Vibrant and Walkable Streets
October 26 2017
Edith Gilliard Canty
Small Block Grants
Elizabeth reviewed what was submitted to the state and the questions the Committee needs to answer.
The Southwest Partnership has received $75,000 from the State of Maryland as part of the BRNI (Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative). This money can be used to fund small community projects. The money is from the capital grants program, and it looks as though only capital projects (installations, etc) will be eligible. Elizabeth will confirm this with the state grants staff and get back to the Committee.
Scott: not sure how long he can stay, but thinks the application process should be as simple as possible and engaging. He also suggested having people outside of the neighborhood judge the applications.
Grant Program Goals
The Committee discussed the types of projects they would like to see funded with the money.
Nancy: would like to see signs for the neighborhoods, Edith would like to see seniors have solar lights in front of their house, also a program for minor repairs to the outside of homes. Also shutters and doors and lights on abandoned buildings.
Because the goals of the grant program are to reduce and prevent blight and increase vibrancy in public spaces, all projects should take place in public spaces. The Committee discussed what they meant by public space. They decided that installations and decorations should be visible from the street/other public spaces and that events (if they are eligible) and other similar projects may take place inside, if they are open and accessible to the public.
The Committee agreed with the goals that were submitted with the grant, and will add a goal about increasing community engagement and collaboration, as well as language about preventing blight.
The Committee discussed whether or not to allocate a certain amount of money per neighborhood to be fair. It may make sense to allocate a certain amount per community–if an eligible application is submitted neighborhoods can be guaranteed up to x amount of dollars per round–if no applications are submitted that money is rolled into the larger pool.
Who should be eligible? Neighborhood associations, church groups, business groups? We do want community groups to get the support of the neighborhood association–should we require it?
The Committee discussed whether or not to require community groups who are not the neighborhood associations to get association approval, or to just notify the association, before. There was some debate, but the Committee decided that there would be a bonus in scoring for neighborhood association approval, that notification would be required and that the SWP could facilitate that as necessary and that it will be required that the people being affected have been informed and that those most directly affected are in support.
What makes an eligible project? Do we want to stick with what Elizabeth submitted? Yes (see attached draft information sheet)
The Committee made the following edits to the grant/application requirements:
Changed the budget requirements to ‘well considered, itemized budget’
Show evidence of awareness of the permit process and are moving forward as needed
If a contractor will be used they should be licensed and preferably local–and there may be other state requirements which will also need to be clarified.
No match will be required
Gaps in project costs to be covered at the time of application
Do have to to have evidence of an organizational bank account. SWP could be the fiscal sponsor
The Committee discussed the best way for the applications to be scored. There are concerns that there would be overlap between the applicants and the reviewers if the Committee or the SWP Board did the reviewing. A suggestion was made that a neutral party score the applications, if someone could be found who was familiar with the area.
A clear scoring rubric will help with some of the conflict of interest issues–Elizabeth will work on a draft. If there is a clear scoring rubric then the Committee will score, with the requirement that a scorer has attended at least one previous meeting.
The first grant cycle will start March 1st, and awards will be up to $5,000.