Drop-in meeting for paradise improvement discussion is April 23

mharrison@fortmilltimes.comApril 16, 2013 

— For anyone who wants to share ideas on how a potential grant can be used to improve the Paradise community, a meeting scheduled for April 23 is the place to do it.

The meeting will be held at 5 p.m. in Bethlehem Baptist Church, 601 Joe Louis St., Fort Mill. Those who are interested in participating are free to drop in anytime between 5 and 7 p.m., said Robby Moody, one of the officials leading the project.

Moody, a senior planner for the Catawba Regional Council of Governments, said the meeting is informal, but he encourages anyone who wants to get a broad understanding of the project to be there at 6 p.m., when he’ll give a presentation explaining how it works.

The COG is assisting the Town of Fort Mill, which applied for the federal Community Block Grant. It could mean anywhere from $375,000 to $700,000 for neighborhood improvements. The town was awarded $25,000 to study needs and put together a proposal that will compete with other municipalities’ plans for the renewable grant.

Getting input from residents is crucial, Moody said.

“We’re hoping to provide information about improvements that can be funded through the Community Development Block Grant Program, but information flows two ways and we need to get the public’s input,” he said.

The “Paradise Neighborhood Village Renaissance Plan,” as it’s called in the grant application, would launch major infrastructure improvements. Some officials, including Fort Mill Mayor Danny Funderburk, mentioned replacing nearly century-old water and sewer lines as a prime option, but the money could be used for sidewalks, street lighting and park improvements.

An advisory committee of officials and neighborhood residents will get to choose the project, but water and sewer lines appear to be a dire need, Funderburk said. However, Moody said residents’ desires will weigh heavily on the town’s decision when it describes in the final application how the grant money would be used.

“Absolutely,” Moody said.

“Local residents know the neighborhood better than anyone, and we need to make sure this plan reflects the needs of the community. It’s about getting public input and making sure the plan reflects the needs of the community.”

Possible uses for the money include “sidewalks, public safety, availability of water, and the demolition and beautification of abandoned property,” Moody said.

After the April 23 meeting, a grant committee will continue gathering information and finalizing the proposal. Another information meeting will be held “toward the end of summer,” Moody said.

For more information, call Moody at 327-9041 or go to catawbacog.org.

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