CDBG Update – Fort Mill officials, residents plan Paradise improvements

New sidewalks, water system upgrades and new entrance signs are among the improvements Paradise residents hope to see if a committee working to improve the neighborhood gets the grant it needs.

Fort Mill received $25,000 from the Community Development Block Grant program to put together its plan for improvements, which committee discussed with residents in a meeting Thursday.

Proposed improvements include water system and street upgrades, sidewalks on Steele Street, blight removal and two new entrance signs, said Robby Moody of the Catawba Regional Council of Governments, which was contracted by the town to put the application together.

Fort Mill is one of a number of municipalities around the state vying for the block grant. If the community gets the grant, improvements will be done in two phases, Moody said.

The first phase will use $375,000 of the block grant, a $45,201 match from the Town of Fort Mill and $148,475 in York County C-funds. The $568,676 total will fund sidewalk installation and beautification, to be completed from 2014 to 2015, Moody said. The CDBG money comes to states from the federal government through the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The second phase is planned from 2016 to 2017 and is budgeted for $570,418 in grant and fund money, Moody said.

Fort Mill Mayor Danny Funderburk told residents that the grant application process is a complicated one, but that the committee and town are working hard to put Paradise in the best place it can be.

“We’re committed to finding and identifying these types of grants,” he said. “It’s going to take a partnership.”

Committee member Rudy Sanders reminded residents of the origins of Paradise.

“It was a community born out of neighbor helping neighbor,” he said.

That philosophy will continue, he said.

The block grant does not cover personal home repairs, but the committee members said they hope to partner with local groups and community members to provide needed assistance.

Tim Veeck, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of York County, said the housing organization would be interested in partnering with Paradise if residents want them to.

“Our mission is to build homes, communities and hope,” he said.

Habitat works with residents to build new homes or improve existing ones. The residents are expected to pay a portion of the repairs cost and work with the Habitat volunteers to complete the project, Veeck said.

The committee’s next steps include gaining Town Council approval and submitting its plan to the S.C. Department of Commerce and the York County C-fund committee, Moody said.

Those steps are planned for completion in October and the committee will apply for the block grant next August.

“The block grants and all these (improvements) are necessary in this community,” said Fort Mill resident Ernest Monroe.

Paradise resident Alma Kisterait said she is happy the process is moving forward. “We have to start somewhere to get where we are trying to [go],” she said.

By Amanda Phipps, reporting for Fort Mill Times