West Orange receives $440K in federal grant funds

Federal grants to fix roads, support mental health, outreach

Photo Courtesy of Glen Frieson
From left are Essex County Director of Economic Development, Training and Employment Anibal Ramos Jr.; Steve Margeotes from the Main Street Counseling Center, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr., James Williams from the township of West Orange; and Essex County Public Information Director Anthony Puglisi, who also serves as county liaison to West Orange.

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Thanks to the Community Development Block Grant and Emergency Solutions Grant programs, 13 Essex County municipalities and 36 nonprofit community organizations will receive approximately $5 million.

On Feb. 8, the county announced the grant winners; the CDBG and ESG programs are funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered through the Essex County HUD.

With a total of $5,037,376 allocated by the federal government to Essex County through the grant programs, West Orange will receive $440,000.

West Orange’s funding will go toward several projects, including roadway improvements, the Main Street Counseling Center and the Bethany Center for Champions. Main Street Counseling Center, which provides accessible and affordable mental health care, will receive $10,000 and the Bethany Center, which conducts outreach for the at-risk youth, will receive $50,000.

The remaining funds will go toward roadway improvements, including road reconstruction, sidewalks, curbs, driveway aprons and repaving, according to John Sayers, the West Orange business administrator.

According to the county, $146,000 will go toward roadway improvements for Chestnut Street; $115,000 will go toward roadway improvements for Samuel Street and $119,000 will go toward roadway improvements for Ridge Avenue. Sayers elaborated that all the improvement work will be done on the roads between Whittlesey and Watchung avenues.

“It’s a great program and we usually get money every year to do street resurfacing and for Main Street Counseling,” Sayers told the West Orange Chronicle in a Feb. 10 phone interview.

While the grant recipients are grateful, so is the county, as these programs allow federal funding to benefit the county’s municipalities, which in turn benefits the entire county.

“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 in a press release. “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.”

And Essex County Department of Economic Development, Training and Employment Director Anibal Ramos pointed out that, thanks to these federal grants, recipients can address the chosen issues without having to divert funds from elsewhere.

“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,” Ramos said in the press release. “This is a great example of a tax-relief program that benefits all county citizens.”

The individual municipalities that received funds certainly agree.

“It’s great to get grant money for programs that are helping out West Orange taxpayers,” Sayers said.