DUR approves funding requests for windows, sidewalk and facade work
The Red Oak Downtown Urban Renewal Board held its regular meeting May 18.
DUR Chairman Roger Vial gave a brief overview of the financial report and said if the board funded its current grant requests right now, they’d be at a negative balance of around $9,900. However, there might be some availability to begin funding the current three projects in the near future.
“With our fiscal year ending right around the corner, I think we’ll be fine to start funding these when documentation comes in on these three open grants. We’ve never really had a deficit before. This is the first year in many where we’d actually have a deficit if we funded every project before the next fiscal year,” Vial said.
The first action item on the agenda was approval of the eligibility of a project at 201 E. Reed St., from Bryant and John Blay, owners of Innovative Investing, LLC, to replace the sidewalk and do some underground work at the building.
“The total cost of the work was $17,500, and the grant request is for $4,375. To me, the only thing needed is approval of eligibility, I have no other information at this time,” commented Vial.
Two projects are awaiting final approval. The first was 317 E. Reed St., owned by Mark Jackson, to replace all of the old single-pane windows. Jackson said he was still waiting on the contractor.
“We’re still waiting on the windows to come in. We haven’t gotten the windows for 316 Coolbaugh St. either. We haven’t filed for that project yet, as we’re still waiting on estimates as well,” Jackson explained.
The last project awaiting final approval was the Red Oak Grand Theatre at 410 E. Coolbaugh St. The project was a holdover from the April meeting. Vial said they received a request from the theater for facade work for $7,186, and the project itself was $28,744. However, there was another funding source to consider.
“The theatre received a grant from the Montgomery County Community Foundation for $17,750 for that same project. In the past, when someone got insurance proceeds, we edited out the insurance payment, then granted what they had to pay out of pocket. This one isn’t exactly like that, but it’s similar, and I believe this is the first time we’ve ever encountered this situation, as I haven’t encountered anything similar, going all the way back to 2002,” advised Vial.
Vial was seeking input from the board as to whether they should go ahead and grant the initial request of $7,186, or revise the grant amount, subtracting the grant from the MCCF.
Board member Mary Barnett felt it wasn’t right to grant the full amount, since they had received a second grant. She’d even suggested an option to the theatre board to make them eligible for the initial grant request.
“My suggestion was to put more money into the building, to be able to take advantage of the $7,186 being paid back to them. I suggested they could increase the project above $28,744 and still be able to apply for the $7,186,” Barnett stated.
Board member Audie Rainey was in agreement with Barnett, from an ethical standpoint.
“While it’s not in our documentation, ethically, the concept we use would be to come up with the net amount to use after insurance or some proceeds were used for that purpose. They’ve got funds that paid towards this project, and ethically, I don’t think that’s responsible,” Rainey said.
Board member Steve Adams advocated for the full amount being paid, as he had experience with non-profits and had handled projects that were funded by up to eight grants.
“The grants offset the cost, but the organizations were still out of pocket for the projects. I don’t have a real opinion on this, I’m just expressing another viewpoint,” Adams commented.
Vial said after the MCCF funds were factored in, the remaining cost of the project was $10,994, and that would lower the grant to $2,748 if the grant were treated as if it was an insurance payout.
Rainey said he would prefer that the MCCF grant be treated as if it were an insurance payout, so they could have the same ethical response to every project moving forward.
The board approved a motion to amend the application to the net amount, with a final grant estimate of $2,748.
Vial said that the issue was a demonstration of a good problem to have.
“Money is being spent, they got their funds, we’re improving the district, and we’ve tackled a situation we’ve never encountered before,” Vial said.