Paradise improvement plan taking shape

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comSeptember 13, 2013 

— A resident-inspired master plan for the Paradise community of Fort Mill is taking shape, with town officials looking to make their pitch for needed funds as competitive as possible.

Robby Moody, senior planner with the Catawba Regional Council of Governments, outlined proposed improvements in Paradise last week for Fort Mill Town Council. A state Department of Commerce grant will be applied for this month and a county C-funds grant next month. A federal community development grant of up to $375,000 is due about this time next year.

“We are in advance,” Moody said of the federal grant. “We’ve done our homework.”

The presentation last week included water system upgrades, sidewalk repairs, entrance signs, demolition of vacant homes and clearance of overgrown properties. The first phase of improvements would include $568,676 coming from the federal grant ($375,000), county C-funds ($148,475) and the town ($45,201). It would take two years to complete, beginning in 2014.

A 2016-17 phase would include $570,418 for continued water and sewer improvements. But all those figures are dependent upon approved funding, particularly the federal grant.

“It’s a competitive process,” said Mayor Danny Funderburk. “We’re competing against any number of towns and cities who are applying for the same pool of money.”

Water and sewer improvements make up 59 percent of the coming phase budget and 84 percent of the following phase. Blight removal would be $71,000 and sidewalk improvements, $60,000. Two entrance signs to the community would cost $20,000. The rest of the money would be for project administration.

“The water system upgrade was the No. 1, big ticket upgrade,” Moody said.

The sidewalk improvements would, among other things, increase access to Steele Street Park. Demolishing vacant properties was a concern for residents, though Moody didn’t find too many instances where it would be needed.

“The good news is, there’s not a lot,” he said.

One request from many within the community was home repair. The grants being applied for can’t, by rule, be used to repair homes. Moody’s group did speak with churches like Philadelphia UMC and Unity Presbyterian, along with Habitat for Humanity to help residents in need make repairs and did get a positive response.

“We reached out to some community partners,” Moody said.

The Paradise community runs along Steele and Joe Louis streets, from Tom Hall to Juniper streets. A community meeting was held Aug. 29 at Jerusalem Baptist Church where residents provided feedback on what is needed there.

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