By John Chambless
West Grove Borough has been awarded $1,111,000 by the Chester County Commissioners to fund the construction of 40 affordable homes in the borough.
The award, which is part of the 2013 Community Revitalization Program funded by the commissioners, was announced on Aug. 14. The money will pay for infrastructure improvements for the 6.8-acre tract at the southwest corner of Willow Street and South Guernsey Road, including a new storm water management system, storm sewer system, public water system, new street construction and the widening of existing streets.
Habitat for Humanity of Chester County is scheduled to build 40 affordable homes on the property, working in partnership with families earning between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income.
"For more than 10 years, these CRP grants have helped to improve communities across Chester County, focusing on urban areas," said commissioner chair Ryan Costello. "Not only do they help to improve the public health and safety of our community, but over the years, the CRP funds have helped to significantly increase the taxable assessments of our urban centers, in some cases, by more than 15 percent."
Also on the list of awards is Oxford Borough, which got $225,000 for the third phase of the Market Street Streetscape Project. The money will be used to remove existing curbs and sidewalks and install new curbs and sidewalks, landscaping, crosswalks and painted traffic lines. Also part of the project is the removal of existing parking meters and installation of new meters, trash cans, planters and streetlights along Market Street, stretching from below South Third Street to Niblock Alley.
Other grant recipients were Modena Borough, which got $52,000 for 51 new streetlights; Spring City Borough, which got $125,000 for storm water improvements along Hall Street; Downingtown Borough, which got $450,000 for refurbishing a drinking water storage tank; Malvern Borough, which got $500,000 for a streetscape project on South Warren and First avenues; and West Chester Borough, which got $293,000 for 60 new solar-powered compacting trash receptacles to be installed on poles in the borough. The receptacles will save the borough about $259,000 in costs over the next five years.
The total award amount from the commissioners was $2,756,000.
"These projects are all in line with our strategic plan and with Landscapes2, the county's land use plan that bridges growth with preservation," said commissioner Kathi Cozzone. "CRP grants have contributed greatly to the success of community revitalization in Chester County, helping to spur additional economic development along our main streets. This year's list of grants is no exception, with many streetscape and infrastructure upgrades that will help encourage more commercial and residential growth in our boroughs."
Commissioner Terence Farrell added, "The CRP grants are structured to help our 16 urban centers undertake infrastructure improvements through direct funds that have, over the years, leveraged millions more in investment. It is an efficient program that encourages the urban centers to review the needs of the community and develop plans to make the changes happen. Often these changes are the slightly-less-glamorous, but very important upgrades to water, storm water and sewer systems, and with every completion, residents and businesses really benefit."
Since the Community Revitalization Program began in 2002, the county has awarded more than $51.5 million in Community Revitalization program and Community Development Block Grant program grants to the 16 urban centers (the City of Coatesville and the 15 boroughs) for infrastructure improvements, according to Pat Bokovitz, director of Chester County Department of Community Development.