City intends to eliminate blight, encourage growth

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October 10, 2011

Cumberland Times-News, Elaine Blaisdell

 

CUMBERLAND — Pending approval of a resolution by the Cumberland City Council today, local organizations could receive $635,000 in state funding for Community Legacy projects.

The city will need to approve an application, the project list and potential recipients of funding, according to the city agenda.

The city and its Sustainable Communities Workgroup Steering Committee prepared a prioritized list of projects for this year’s application. No. 1 on the priority list is Cumberland Neighborhood Housing Services Inc. including its partner, Cumberland Housing Authority, for $200,000 to become a designated Land Bank Authority.

The LBA would acquire blighted and abandoned properties as well as vacant land from the city.

The Community Legacy funds would go toward demolition, maintenance and rehabilitation of uninhabitable structures as well as maintenance of vacant lots.

“After being solely responsible for the development and creation of land bank legislation to allow the designation of land banks throughout the state of Maryland, becoming the designated LBA in Cumberland serves as the next step towards fulfilling CNHS’ mission and goals of community revitalization,” stated the project description.

The project’s goals include the elimination of blight, encouraging economic development, elimination of barriers that prohibit the ability to return properties to productive use, enhancing neighborhood viability, creating opportunities for affordable and mixed income homeownership, strategic conveyance of property and aggregating responsibly holding properties for future use.

“Designating CNHS as the LBA would be breaking new ground, providing another tool for local officials to use in stemming the physical decline of property within the city limits,” said Janet Kemmet during a previous council meeting.

“The financial strength and longevity of the organization eliminates a great deal of the normal start-up costs associated with the development of the LBA.”

The city’s land assets would be transferred to the LBA only after no other practical reuse could be determined, according to the agenda.

During the last public meeting, the council agreed informally to continue working with CNHS and the housing authority to develop an LBA.

Second on the Community Legacy priority list is the Canal Place Preservation & Development Authority’s request for $100,000 for phase 3 of the Footer Dye Works stabilization project.

Phase 1 of the project consisted of demolition of the sawtooth structure and temporary wall protecting the building.

Phase 2 will consist of roof repairs to the north side building.

Phase 3 will consist of repairs to the roof, scaffolding, areas of deterioration, windows and addressing adequate ventilation of the building.

The authority obtained possession of the building and a group is being assembled to update the old request for proposals to redevelop the building, said executive director Renee Bone during a Sept. 20 meeting.

Other requests for funding, in order of priority, include $100,000 for the Cumberland Main?Street Mixed-Use Development program, $100,000 for the Neighborhoods Matter program, $85,000 for CNHS’ Commercial RehabilitationCode Compliance program, $30,000 for the Residential Shade Tree Planting Program and $20,000 for the Virginia Avenue Corridor Sign Grant program.

Applications are due by Oct. 26. Community Legacy provides local governments and community development organizations with funding for essential projects aimed at strengthening communities through activities such as business retention and attraction, encouraging home ownership and commercial revitalization, according to the website.

This year, the Community Legacy Program has $4.25 million in capital funds.

Additional items on the agenda for the meeting include issues pertaining to the Baltimore Street underpass, the appointment of Tony Ottaviani to the Downtown?Development Commission and the distribution of $56,215 in hotel/motel tax to 16 community nonprofit groups.

Also on the agenda, are mutual aid agreements between the city and Frostburg police for one year and an agreement between the Allegany?County Sheriff’s Office and the Cumberland Police Department.

The meeting will take place at 6:15 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .