Rumford seeks money to beautify downtown


RUMFORD – Residents learned of the possibilities of a downtown revitalization project Thursday night during a public hearing on the town’s application for a federal community development block grant.

Due at the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development office by early February is a grant application asking for $400,000. The town will know if the grant will be received in March.

“We’ve had designs done and displayed around town. We could start this summer and complete the project in two years,” Town Manager Stephen Eldridge said.

Voters at last year’s town meeting approved taking $100,000 in road funds to supply the match if the grant is approved.

Eldridge said the funds would be used to fulfill some of the downtown revitalization recommendations made by Brian Kent Associates and the Downtown Revitalization Committee, which has been meeting for about two years.

“If we don’t get the grant, we can’t do anything. We’d have to look for other sources,” said Eldridge.

Projects include new sidewalks and lampposts along River Street, a river park, and improvements to Canal, Congress and Waldo streets.

Other possible projects include establishing so-called pocket parks on Waldo Street, and constructing parking lots in the downtown.

“If we receive the money, the project must be done through federal standards, including competitive bids,” said Eldridge.

Board Chairman Jim Rinaldo asked whether the local committee had prioritized projects if the entire amount was not granted.

Committee Chairman William French said the number of revitalization projects suggested exceeds the maximum amount of the grant.

“We’re still looking for more ideas, but this grant is key to the revitalization committee,” he said.

He said the committee, which meets next at 5:15 p.m. Jan. 29 in the Municipal Building auditorium, welcomes anyone who wants to attend and share ideas.

The committee, which started with nine members, now averages between 15 and 20 people each meeting, said French.

“We encourage people to come,” he said.