Two towns receive CDBG funding for ADA improvements

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SOUTH ORANGE / MAPLEWOOD, NJ — On Feb. 13, it was announced that Essex County will administer a $168,204 grant to Maplewood and a $105,000 grant to South Orange as part of the Community Development Block Grant program.

According to the county, approximately $5.5 million will be distributed to 12 county municipalities and 33 nonprofit organizations through the CDBG and Emergency Solutions Grant programs — an increase of approximately $400,000 from last year. These programs are funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered by the Essex County Division of Housing and Community Development.

In Maplewood, the $168,204 will go toward improvements to various public facilities to make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Maplewood Business Administrator Sonia Alves-Viveiros did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

In South Orange, the $105,000 will go toward the acquisition of an ADA compliant senior bus.

“This bus will expand our access to the growing number of senior citizens. It will allow us to expand existing services, number of routes driven and open the opportunity for new programs,” South Orange Village Administrator Adam Loehner told the News-Record. “We expect to receive the bus by the end of 2019 and will be putting it to use immediately.”

A total of $3,158,888 was awarded to 12 municipalities and county programs in the Essex County consortium, which is the group of towns that goes through the county for CDBG funding.

“Programs supported through the CDBG and ESG programs are direct investments to provide services that enhance our quality of life and help stabilize our neighborhoods by modernizing our infrastructure and supporting programs that assist vulnerable populations,” Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. said. “These federal grants enable us to upgrade our sidewalks and roads, enhance handicap access, address mental health needs, support food pantries and stimulate the overall development in our communities.”

Municipalities and nonprofit organizations must meet specific criteria established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to be eligible for grant funding. These funds have no impact on the county budget and cannot be used as revenue in the county’s operating budget.

“The beauty of the CDBG and ESG programs is their ability to fund a broad array of projects without affecting the budgets of the county, municipalities or organizations receiving the grants. This is a great example of a tax relief program that benefits all county citizens,” said Anibal Ramos, director of the Essex County Department of Economic Development, Training and Employment.

Loehner agreed that the CDBG program is a boon to municipalities like South Orange.

“The CDBG program has been a wonderful program for South Orange, helping to improve our ADA accessibility throughout the village,” he said. “Essex County does a fantastic job administering the program and working with all of the communities and organizations to help many residents in the county.”

Photos Courtesy of Glen Frieson

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