WEST ORANGE, NJ — Essex County recently announced that approximately $5.4 million will be distributed to 14 Essex County municipalities and 34 community organizations through the Community Development Block Grant program and the Emergency Solutions Grant program. The township of West Orange received a CDBG for $345,100. The CDBG and ESG 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.
“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.”
A total of $2,089,641 was awarded to 14 municipalities and county programs for infrastructure improvements and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance in the Essex County consortium. Grants ranged in size from $25,000 to Roseland to $370,500 to Orange. Essex County was provided with $1,039,263 for program oversight, monitoring and administration.
West Orange received $345,100, specifically $191,500 for reconstruction of Watchung Avenue, $40,000 for the Main St. Counseling Center, $49,000 for Bethany Center for Champions’ outreach for at-risk youth and $64,600 for walkway improvements from Main Street to Parking Yard No. 3.
“Watchung Avenue from Washington Street south to the municipal border with the City of Orange Township will be milled then repaved with a hot mix asphalt surface course,” West Orange municipal engineer and Director of Public Works Leonard Lepore told the West Orange Chronicle in a Feb. 10 email. “Additionally, the traffic-calming speed tables in this section will be replaced. Also, drainage inlets will be upgraded to environmentally friendly ones that prevent waste such as cans and bottles from entering the township’s waterways. Finally, ADA accessible ramps at intersections will be reconstructed as needed to meet current codes.”
As for the walkway improvements, “The concrete walkway from Main Street next to the Supreme Bakery to Parking Yard No. 3 on Lindsley Avenue will be reconstructed with brick pavers. The concrete has deteriorated from the use of salt for ice control. The brick pavers will be more resistant to the effects of the salt.”
Lepore emphasized the necessity of the CDBG program for West Orange residents.
“These grants are important to the township as they enable the improvement of vital infrastructure without burdening the local taxpayer,” Lepore said.
And it’s not just municipalities that are helped by these grants. According to Main St. Counseling Executive Director Steve Margeotes, the $40,000 his organization received will allow them to hire additional staff and expand mental health services in West Orange and Orange.
“The grants are important because they add to the credibility of the organization, which allows other private and government funders to also invest in our cause,” Margeotes told the Chronicle in a Feb. 10 email.” Obviously, the funding helps pay for staff salaries, but the credibility factor is equally important in our nonprofit operation.”
A total of $1,787,411 was awarded directly to nonprofit community organizations. Grants ranged in size from $7,800 to Jewish Family Services in Livingston to $48,500 to Wynona’s House in Newark. Essex County was provided with grants of $856,399 to repave roads, $79,200 to purchase a handicap accessible senior bus, $91,200 for landlord and tenant counseling and $467,172 for a home improvement program.
Among these organizations, Arc of Essex County received $29,400 for an ADA vehicle; Jewish Family Services received $7,800 for its services to frail, homebound, older adults; the Mental Health Association of Essex County received $9,700 for an ADA vehicle replacement; NCJW/Essex of Livingston received $9,700 for its job-readiness program; Planned Parenthood received $9,800 for HIV prevention, testing and counseling; The Bridge received $11,200 for behavioral health counseling; and Wynona’s House in Newark received $48,500 for Family Resource Center renovations.
A total of $440,579 was awarded to eight local social service agencies through the Emergency Solutions Grant program. Grants range in size from $12,000 to the Salvation Army in Newark to $73,000 to the YMCA of Newark and Vicinity. These funds will support emergency shelter operations, rehousing activities and homelessness prevention. Essex County was provided with a $33,043 grant to administer the program. There is $82,756 available for reprogramming.
“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.
Photo Courtesy of Glen Frieson