Mt. Vernon Register-News

March 5, 2014

Council seeking grants

The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — The city has submitted applications for work on the former armory building and to create a new industrial park.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Park and Recreational Facility Construction Grant is rarely offered, but the timing is right for the city to take advantage of the program, according to City Manager Ron Neibert.

“There is a pool of $25 million available,” Neibert said. “The maximum grant allowable is $2.5 million.”

The grant is a three-to-one matching grant, which will be used to for work on the former armory, which has been the site of the outdoor Market Days last year.

“We want to be able to use the armory for recreation again,” Neibert said. “With this grant, basketball will be played on the floors again.”

The building, which was obtained by the city from the state when the Armed Forces Reserve Center was opened on Shiloh Drive, has already undergone asbestos abatement, received a new roof and window installation is ongoing. According to City Projects Manager Nathan McKenna, the second floor windows have been installed and work is beginning on the first floor windows. Public Works employees are doing some demolition work on the ceilings of first floor spaces.

According to IDNR, the grant program availability was announced at the end of January.

“The program will provide grants to eligible local governments for acquisition, development, construction, rehabilitation or other capital improvements to park and recreational facilities in Illinois.”

The grants will be accepted by IDNR through March 10, but the city plans of having its application submitted by March 7.

“The PARC will reimburse grant recipients up to 75 percent of approved project costs,” information states. “...the PARC program is specifically designed to include support facilities and encourages infrastructure work.”

Infrastructure is the key word in the second major grant the city is pursuing for infrastructure of a new industrial park.

The city approved an option to purchase 100 acres for $1.75 million from Barnard Farms and Barnard Soil Service, LLC in December 2013. The existing city industrial park only has 25 acres left for development.

At the time the council approved the option, it was announced the city would be looking at applying for the Federal Economic Development Administration grant program.

According to Neibert, the grant application is for infrastructure only, such as streets, water service and sewer service. The city is requesting $3.25 million, with a match of $3.75 million — with the city’s match already allocated in a reserve fund.

The grant does not include land acquisition, however, the funds for the property have also been allocated in the budget, Neibert said.

“We are very hopeful of receiving this grant,” Neibert said. “We haven’t received funding from this agency in 25 years.”