CDBG funding hopefuls submit proposals

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Bridgton organizations seeking a piece of around $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for 2013 include the Bridgton Community Center, the Rufus Porter Museum, Rick and Julie Whelchel and Ann Ruel, founder of On Eagles Wings.

Here’s the rundown:

• Bridgton Community Center — seeks $19,544 to replace the windows of the former National Guard Armory building on Depot Street. The application states that the existing windows of the 1951 armory are not energy-efficient, causing unnecessary operating expenses due to heat loss. The Community Center received CDBG funding last year to replace its undersized kitchen.

• Rufus Porter Museum — seeks $39,970 to restore the façade of the historic Webb-Gallinari House on Main Street, built in the 1830s. The application states that the building, which the nonprofit purchased last year, needs extensive work on the outside to keep its architectural heritage intact, and that the CDBG funds would be supplemented by $7,700 to be raised by the organization. The organization intends to eventually relocate the North High Street museum building to the Webb-Gallinari lot, located beside Stevens Brook.

• Henry O. Moses building — Owners Rick and Julie Whelchel, who recently sold the Noble House Inn on Highland Road, are seeking up to $75,000 in CDBG funding to restore the clapboard-sided façade and roof of the historic mixed use building at 311 Main Street, across from another recently-restored historic building, the William Perry House. The Whelchels propose to invest $50,000 of their own money in the project, which they say will “breathe new life into the Main Hill neighborhood” and preserve a building used for both commercial and residential purposes dating back to 1873.

• On Eagles Wings — Harrison resident Ann Ruel seeks $30,000 to support initial operating expenses of her organization that provides massage and reflexology treatments for breast cancer survivors. Led by a board of directors, On Eagles Wings proposes to be in operation by March at the Wellness Center in Bridgton. The application noted that 25% of the women receiving cancer treatment do not have insurance.

Anne Krieg, director of planning, economic and community development, said an ad-hoc committee will be formed and will meet soon to consider each of the requests. Each project must demonstrate that it will accomplish any one of three objectives, which are to benefit low and moderate income persons, prevent or eliminate slum and blight conditions or meet an urgent community need.

The town of Bridgton has already earmarked a portion of the town’s yearly CDBG funding to furthering the ongoing sewer system expansion project and making sidewalk and other improvements to the downtown, particularly in the Depot Street area. Last year the town received an allotment of around $235,000, of which around $45,000 is used to fund Krieg’s position.

Because Bridgton’s poverty rate is among the highest per capita in Cumberland County, Bridgton is one of only two municipalities (the other is South Portland) that receives an annual allotment from the CDBG program, without having to compete with other towns by submitting specific project proposals. Although the town government uses the bulk of the money on infrastructure improvements, independent local organizations are encouraged to compete for remaining funds.

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