Matching neighborhood grants helping communities pay for public - | WBTV Charlotte

Matching neighborhood grants helping communities pay for public safety projects


From speeding drivers near an elementary school to crime and public safety projects, local communities are getting improvement projects done  - not by city departments but through neighborhood matching grants.

"I don't care where the money comes from" says Diane Langevin. "I'm just happy the city told us how to go about getting it. There's another way to do it."

Langevin's Winterfield Neighborhood Association just won a $3,782.00 matching grant from Charlotte's Neighborhood and Business Services.

The money will pay for a community and public safety project that includes a speed hump near Winterfield Elementary School, safety signs near the school and Sheffield Park, and support a Safety Week event.

Langevin says drivers heading to and from the elementary school ignore the posted 25 miles per hour speed limit.

"So far we've been very fortunate - no child has been hit" says Langevin. They're installing the speed hump because "we just want to prevent an accident from happening. We want to slow down the traffic. So we're going to get our speed hump."

Residents have to match the grants with funds they've raised, donated materials, or volunteer hours to complete the projects.

But are neighbors upset that they have to help pay for public safety projects?

Langevin says "what frustrates me more is people don't read speed limits. Parents don't teach their children proper walking etiquette. That's where the problem comes."

In June, seven local neighborhoods won neighborhood matching grants from the City's Neighborhood and Business Services. Organizations match the grant money with funds they've raised, or donated materials, or volunteer time.

City officials say "to ensure the completion of the projects, and to track the progress of the organization's match, we pay the vendors through a third party check as the organization requests grant disbursement."

Neighborhood and Business Services says "checks for the total amount are not distributed up front so that we can maintain the continuity of the program, which is that as they document their match of the project, submit invoices as needed, complete monthly reports, and then receive payments to vendors or reimbursement when requested."

Over at Steele Oaks-Braddock Green Homeowners Association, residents are about to install a 6-foot steel fence to help fight crime.

There's an overgrown brush along the property line. Residents say people from outside the community cut a trail through the brush to their backyards.

"What they used to do was go into neighborhoods, break in, and store property in here{brush} till police leave and go back and get it" says Ayana Moreland, who is the project monitor for Steele-Oaks Braddock Green Homeowners Association.

CMPD says between June 2012 and June 2013, there were 7 residential burglaries, 6 vandalism cases, and 5 car break-ins in the Steele Oaks area.

Police recommended a fence be installed. But the city is not paying for the whole project.

The home owners association was awarded a $9,100 matching grant to install a 6 foot fence, and some signage.

Moreland says "the city is trying to help organizations fight crime and do projects by helping their communities."

For Steele Oaks-Braddock Green, the project is a "crime preventative measure. It will make the community feel safer knowing that you're keeping out outsiders, unwanted traffic. You are keeping people from trespassing. You are keeping people breaking into houses" says Moreland.

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