New State Grant Enables City Of Wilmington To Proceed With Riverfront Study

By Jenny Callison, posted Oct 2, 2014
City officials can move ahead with a riverfront improvements study, thanks to a new grant from the state. The $45,000, in tandem with another $45,000 grant already received, will be matched by $90,000 from the City of Wilmington and used to fund a plan for enhancing portions of the two-mile downtown riverfront, deputy city manager Tony Caudle said Thursday.
The grant was one of 10 that Gov. Pat McCrory’s office announced in a news release Wednesday.
In late August, the Division of Water Resources awarded the city $45,000 to support the riverfront study – half of what the city had requested in an application this past spring, said Dylan Lee, a city spokesman. This second $45,000 grant means that the city will have the entire amount it asked for.
In a memo to Wilmington City Council members on Tuesday, deputy city manager Tony Caudle told them of the grant notification and reminded them that, in the spring, they had authorized the application for $90,000 in grant funds, and had also authorized a city match of $90,000.
“It now appears as though we have a total State allocation of $90,000; as a result we shall be working with the Resource Institute to develop a contract, complete with a scope of work, that will allow us to consider moving forward with the proposed plan,” he wrote. “I hope to have that on the Oct. 21, 2014 agenda for your consideration.”
The Resource Institute, Caudle explained in a telephone conversation Thursday, is a Winston-Salem-based non-profit consulting firm that works with organizations to address issues of water quality and economic development. The firm will undertake the study.
The resulting plan, Caudle said, will “lay out our needs, and we’ll use it as a road map with regard to funding the projects we have identified.”
The projects that will be contained in the plan, according to Caudle, include stabilization of bulkheads at several points along the downtown waterfront, improvements to the Riverwalk and Riverfront Park, development of the new city park at the north end of Water Street near PPD headquarters, and some streetscape aesthetics, notably along Water Street.
“We need a plan that pulls all of this together,” he said. “These projects have been in different people’s heads, but being able to show them to prospective funders is difficult when they’re in different heads. We need to put it all down on paper, in much the same way as we developed our Comprehensive Greenway Plan, and say ‘This is our vision.’”
Caudle said he hoped that such a document could be complete within six months, but the plan development will involve public input, which could slow down the process.

McCrory’s announcement Wednesday said that the total funding package for water-related  projects added up to nearly $1 million.
"These grants will further our goal of improving the quality of life and our environment for all North Carolinians," McCrory said in the release. "These projects throughout our entire state will make significant improvements possible for storm cleanup and water quality protection, conservation and restoration.”
The only other award for a project in eastern North Carolina was a $25,000 grant to Wallace for a stormwater system upgrade.
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