BURLINGTON COUNTY The state has awarded Burlington City $600,000 in federal housing, urban development, and other grants, funds that would help the redevelopment efforts of the struggling community along the Delaware River.
The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) this week announced that it would distribute $6 million in Small Cities Block Grants statewide, including the grant to the depressed city and an additional $700,000 to two other Burlington County municipalities. Pemberton Borough will receive $300,000, while $400,000 will go to Wrightstown.
"The Small Cities grants give incentives to local communities to focus on housing rehabilitations, urban renewal, and other public services. It is the best way for us to give maximum benefits to some of our most vulnerable citizens," Richard E. Constable 3d, the department's commissioner, said in a statement.
Some of the other grants will be used to reconstruct handicapped-access ramps destroyed by Hurricane Sandy at the Jersey Shore last year.
Among the more unusual awards is a $285,000 grant to Cape May County for the purchase of "beach badge-making equipment." The job is handled by the Jersey Cape Diagnostic Training and Opportunity Center, which employs 110 disabled people, according to the DCA. An additional $400,000 is earmarked to demolish an unsafe grain mill in Pittsgrove, Salem County.
In Burlington City, $400,000 will be used to construct handicapped-access ramps at the City Hall, improve sidewalks and crosswalks along North Fort Dix Street, and install 20 pedestrian-oriented streetlights. The project "will make crossing the street easier and safer for residents," said Tammori Petty, DCA spokeswoman.
An additional $200,000 will provide financial assistance to up to 10 low- and moderate-income Burlington City residents to rehabilitate their single-family homes. The homeowners will apply for interest-free loans to bring their homes up to code and would have to be repaid upon sale or title transfer, Petty said. "This will stabilize and improve housing stock throughout the township," she said.
In Pemberton, grant money will be used to replace failing sewerage equipment and a main sewer line on Hanover Street. The grant to Wrightstown will pay for infrastructure, including curbs, crosswalks, signs, streetlights, and storm water drainage improvements on and near Fort Dix Street.