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Town of CB reapplying for revitalization grant

Colonial Beach Business District Revitalization Management Team is working feverishly to tie up loose ends for the town’s second application for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

The CDBG grant, if awarded, could net the town as much as $750,000 to focus on giving the boardwalk a much needed facelift, as well as making pedestrian traffic safer and more enjoyable for the public.

In an effort to help localities recover from the economic pitfalls and gradual blight over the last few decades, the DHCD has offered revitalization grants. Localities compete each year to be awarded money from these funds. Revitalization grants are meant to jump start communities in revitalizing their businesses to allow the town to see a return for the money spent. So winning a grant is largely dependent on a locality’s ability to show an active interest in revitalization from both citizens and business owners.

Colonial Beach is seeking a CDBG to help fund the revitalization of the boardwalk area of the town. The boardwalk area was chosen as the first site for rehabilitation because it is not only the main focus of tourism in the town, but was once the hub of business in Colonial Beach. With economic hardships, and past councils’ removals of buildings they considered to be eyesores to the community, the boardwalk has become a barren area that many visitors (and residents) find boring.

The town cannot continue to rely on the natural beauty of the riverfront beach alone. It must revitalize the business community along the boardwalk to attract, and keep, more tourists within the town limits to create revenue. If awarded, the grant will be used to repave and implement erosion control of the boardwalk surface.

As well as adding curb appeal, controlling the buildup of sediment will be accomplished by using silt fencing, the planting of trees and plants, providing sod areas, and irrigation. Trash receptacles, benches, bicycle racks, and signage will also be added.

In response to the efforts to revitalize the town, the Colonial Beach Business District Plan was created. The plan covers the main thoroughfare leading to the boardwalk; the intersection of Colonial and Washington Avenues, and the property between Washington Avenue and the river.

After Colonial Beach’s application for a community development block grant was rejected last year, Carol Rizzio of Lands Studio, and Colonial Beach Building and Zoning director Gary Mitchell met with the DHCD to review the application.

One of the key reasons for the denial was a lack of information provided in the application from the Business District Revitalization Plan.

This year’s application will be modified to include more items from the Business District Revitalization Plan (BDRP). Items to be included are recent improvements, a complete list of events, private investments, and information from a recent market study conducted by the Revitalization Committee.

In order to provide this information in the grant application, the group had to update these items in the BDRP. By meeting with property/business owners to discuss connections between future business improvements and requested public improvements, the revitalization committee is hoping to generate more community interest in the revitalization efforts.

Officials from the Northern Neck District Planning Commission and the Virginia Main Street program visited the group last year to discuss the positive actions that the neighboring town of Montross used to help win their CDBG of just over one-half million dollars.

The team is currently in the process of organizing a real estate fair for the focus area. The idea is to bring in potential developers and talk about plans for the area.

This event would showcase the town’s vision and plans for the area, to potential developers and business entrepreneurs.

There will be a public hearing on the CDBG Feb. 21 at the Town Center starting at 6 p.m.

Anyone who is interested in joining the Colonial Beach Business District Revitalization Management Team or the Virginia Main Street program can contact Carol Rizzio at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Linda Farneth

 

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