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Thanks a million! Somersworth makes most of grants
By Judi Currie
SOMERSWORTH — More than a million dollars in grant funds have come to the city of Somersworth over the past year thanks to the efforts of staff and department heads.
According to City Manager Bob Belmore, all of the grants involve some level of writing, coordination, and implementation, but is time well spent.
In a report to the Somersworth City Council in December, Belmore said the totals reflect the past 12 months or so of “our City staff working to pursue grant funds for infrastructure improvements and to assist in a more efficient and effective delivery of municipal services to our community.”
Belmore said the grant funds awarded total more than $1.1 million and there is more where that came from, as the pending grant funding applications total approximately $1.1 million as well.
According to Police Chief David Kretschmar, his department was awarded Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) for approximately $15,000 in 2015, 2016 and 2017, rounds. He said the department purchased laser training caps, a duty weapon and software upgrades to network servers, cruiser modems and replaced patrol rifles.
Somersworth Police also received grants for DWI Enforcement efforts, Operation Safe Commute and Seat Belt Enforcement Patrols, and Distracted Driving Patrols.
According to Fire Chief Keith Hoyle, his department received a SAFER Act grant for from FEMA for $99,068 and added 10 new call firefighters. It included the cost of their medical exams, protective gear, uniforms and some training.
Another FEMA grant, called FIRE Act is for $250,000 to replace the nearly 30-year-old SCBA refill van used for the Community Mutual Aid Association. The new vehicle will be a first-in-the-nation combination of SCBA refill and firefighter rehabilitation unit.
A grant for active shooter equipment from NH Homeland Security will provide up to $6,000 for equipment to protect firefighters accompanying police officers into warm zones for active shooter situations. Firefighters’s role in active shooter events is to accompany police and EMS into the “warm zone” to remove possible victims after police have confronted the shooter.
Mike Bobinsky, director of public works and utilities, identified seven grants covering projects including LED lighting, sidewalks and preservation of the city’s historic treasures.
A Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) grant is for $699,000 with a local share of $139,800 and involves the replacing and upgrading of traffic control equipment at all signalized intersections along the High Street Corridor from West High Street to the Dover Weeks Crossing. It also includes new equipment to interface with the City of Dover Central Avenue/Weeks Crossing Intersection for improved synchronization and traffic flow through the High Street corridor.
A grant for Drinking Water Interconnection with the City of Dover for $1,300,000, involves the engineering and construction of a new water main to connect the two cities. A new pump station will allow water to be transferred to either Somersworth or to Dover in the event either community faces a water quality emergency.
Another project involves the replacement of approximately 750 city streetlights with new LED light fixtures. The city entered into a contract with Affinity LED for the replacement work. Return on the city’s investment after receiving the Eversource Incentive funds will be paid back after two years.
At the historic Forest Glade Cemetery off Maple Street, a Moose Plate grant of $10,000 will result in replacing panels and restoring the granite pillars that form the formal entrance to the cemetery.
A grant funded by the NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) will pay for conducting a structural assessment of the Furber Chapel at Forest Glade Cemetery.
A Transportation Alternatives Program-TAP Grant for $789,200 involves constructing new sidewalks on High Street, upgrading crosswalk access on High Street, constructing a sidewalk on Memorial Drive and Cemetery Road and constructing a multi-use path between the elementary school and middle school.
Shanna Saunders, director of community development, was involved in the TAP and CMAQ grants alongside public works. She also listed a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant for $45,000 for upgrading the Jules Bisson playground and park including a new play structure, ADA upgrades and possibly new parking.
In addition to the proposals put together by police, fire, public works and development, the city completed work on a $500,000 CDBG award to the Somersworth Housing Authority, $60,000 for the Eddy Bridge rehabilitation project, as well as $187,000 NH DES Brownfields Grant awarded for the former Breton’s Cleaners cleanup project.