The health of the historic resort community is not in doubt. But a streetscape master plan project begun in January wants to identify parts of the downtown that can be improved. And planners want more public opinion.
Salem is synonymous with witchcraft, Concord with the revolutionary war. But what is the identity of Oak Bluffs? The question was put to community members and state officials recently at a public discussion.
Five of the six Island towns are applying for Community Development Block Grants for the 2011 fiscal year, with more applications than ever expected this year from needy residents. At their meeting Tuesday, Aquinnah selectmen praised the block grant program, which this year includes funds for rehabilitating homes and child care assistance for income-eligible residents. Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Tisbury are all applying for grants.
Over the past eight years the Massachusetts Community Development Block Grant program has funneled more than $14 million toward vital housing needs of Martha’s Vineyard residents. Thanks to concerted last minute lobbying by Island leaders over recent weeks, it will continue to do so.
Edgartown selectmen voted Monday to reapply for a housing rehabilitation program under the federal Community Development Block Grant that allows eligible homeowners to borrow up to $35,000 for critical home repairs.
Under the grant, homeowners who make 80 per cent or less of median income are eligible for the no-interest loans, which are forgivable over a period of 15 years.
A proposed change in the guidelines for the state Community Development Block Grant program could spell a doubly whammy for the Vineyard, which has already lost out on $2 million in block grant money this year due to a clerical error.
The guideline change, which is still proposed and has not been adopted, would restrict communities who receive grant funding from applying for the program the following federal fiscal year.
After a clerical error in this year’s community development block grant application saw the Island miss out on $2 million in money for child care assistance and housing rehabilitation, Oak Bluffs residents in need will still get some relief from an overlooked program account.
Ralph Gross stood in his brand new living room one afternoon this week, the freshly painted yellow walls and new furniture a far cry from the room that once held two bunk beds for his five sisters and mother.
“We washed the clothes over there,” Mr. Gross, 74, said pointing to the new red bathroom, once a washroom and now a full bath and handicap accessible.
“It’s pretty much the same, but so much better,” he said with a warm smile.