|Gering downtown revitalization grant rejected by state|
|May 18, 2012 Jerry Purvis|
Gering’s initial application for a $30,000 planning grant to help with downtown redevelopment has been turned down by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development through their Community Development Block Grant program.
In a letter to Gering Mayor Ed Mayo, the selection committee cited “the lack of a bottom-up organized approach to revitalization; led by the business community.”
The letter continued that “The city should consider a strategic planning effort that identifies downtown stakeholders and includes them in the planning process.” The committee also encouraged the city to continue working with downtown business owners and the community if it chooses to reapply for funding. The next application cycle begins Oct. 19, 2012.
According to Gering City Council member Julie Morrison, a number of cities across the state were competing for the block grant funds. “Any plans we had on the drawing board are probably on hold for right now,” she said. “Without funding, I don’t know where we can go from here.”
Mayo said he was obviously disappointed. “We had a lot of people spend a lot of time on this and get the information to the state. I sincerely believe we’ll get accepted in the next go-round. I’m not ready to give up on it because we really did have a good application.”
He said part of the reason for the rejection was probably because another city of similar size in the same location, namely Scottsbluff, had already been awarded a grant.
Mayo said city staff will meet with state officials to determine what needs to be changed and then do more brainstorming before resubmitting the application.
“I feel bad for the community because they put in a lot of effort for this application,” he said. “Things like this happen, so now we need to pick ourselves up and take another shot.”