Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Westside Groups Put City Grants to Use; More Than 60 Neighborhood Organizations Get Funding from a City Program

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Westside Groups Put City Grants to Use; More Than 60 Neighborhood Organizations Get Funding from a City Program

Article excerpt

Byline: SANDY STRICKLAND

Some Cedar Creek condominium owners are reclaiming land lost to erosion, thanks to $5,000 from the Mayor's Neighborhood Matching Grants program.

Other Westside groups are using their grants to build new fences, install a fountain in a neighborhood lake and beautify their neighborhood's entry point.

They are among 61 neighborhood associations and other groups that received grants totaling $271,923 for 2006-07. Since it began in 1996, the program has funded 567 projects at a cost of $2.4 million.

The groups could apply for grants of up to $5,000 if they have been in existence at least six months and match the awards with cash, in-kind services and volunteer labor. Projects focusing on physical improvements received priority.

The grant money comes from the city's general fund and Community Development Block Grant funding.

"This is such a wonderful way for communities to get money to make improvements to their neighborhoods, especially improvements that people can see," said Lorrie DeFrank, chief of the city's Neighborhood Services Division, which administers the grant program.

The Cedar Creek Landing Condominium Association, which got two grants, will use $5,000 to pour a concrete cap over its existing bulkhead and $1,875 to place fill dirt in an eroded area near the creek.

The condos, which are on San Juan Avenue, lost up to 2 feet of land to erosion several years ago, said Jerry Deutsch, who heads the association's board. When the buildings' roofs were replaced, the old shingles were used to build a levee around the property, Deutsch said.

But they need to be covered for safety and aesthetic reasons, he said. The shingles could wind up as projectiles during a hurricane, and children could be hurt playing on them.

In addition, the land behind one of the buildings is "really low," Deutsch said. Truckloads of dirt will be brought in to raise the level. It will then be topped with sod.

"That area is a lake half the year," said Deutsch, adding that the work will be done after the rainy season.

It will be done by residents who want to express pride in their community and increase the value of their property, he said. …

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