On Centre: Around Bellefonte | Borough seeking local property owners interested in facade improvement

mmorgan@centredaily.comDecember 31, 2013 

Vana Dainty hasn’t submitted a grant application to improve facades in Bellefonte’s downtown and waterfront districts yet but interest is already pouring in.

The former councilwoman turned Keystone Development community coordinator is still collecting formal letters of interest until the end of the week. Any property owners in the designated areas will get a chance to apply for the funding if the $50,000 grant is approved. She said she received about six calls on just Monday.

Each project can be funded up to $5,000 and requires a $5,000 match from the property owner. The letters are nonbinding and don’t require a future application.

“There is a lot of interest that is being generated for this and as it's talked about more, there will be more interest,” she told a small group at a preliminary meeting.

The state funding must be used for exterior projects, but it does include things such as building signage.

If the grant application is successful, a yet-to-be-formed, independent review board will select projects from interested applicants, and if the property falls in the Historical Architecture Review Board area it must also go through that body before final approval.

Dainty expects to know if the grant is approved by April.

She resigned from council last month to accept this newly created, contracted position with the borough, designed to promote the downtown and search for grant funding. It replaces the zoning officer position that was open, and 40 percent of the job will be related to zoning.

She is enjoying the job so far and is pleased this grant became available to get her feet wet.

“I love the fact that that I have this to get (involved) immediately, she said, “so I had something to start making things happen.”

She is hoping to get the town a Keystone designation in the next six months, which would open up even more opportunities for grant funding. Her goal is to fill the downtown storefronts and make the community more vibrant.

Anyone wishing to sign a letter of interest before the grant application is submitted Friday can contact Dainty by email at vdainty@bellefonte.net. The letters are not required but could help Bellefonte receive the funding, she said.

Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.

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