SOUTHBRIDGE – Residents will have access to a forum to discuss proposed projects for the 2019 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and to provide feedback on previous CDBG programs and projects.

The forum will be held Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 6:30 p.m. at Southbridge Town Hall, 41 Elm Street in the Economic Development and Planning Office on the lower level. At the meeting, residents may provide comments and receive information on the proposed activities and associated areas that are to be included in the town’s application for the 2019 Community Development Grant program.

The public meeting will be held for any person or organization so wishing an opportunity to be heard. Suggestions for potential activities for future grant applications and comments on the outcomes and effectiveness of previous CDBG programs/projects awarded to the town are encouraged. The town encourages broad spectrum of participation by residents and other interested parties in order to better understand and serve the needs of the community.

The hearing location is accessible to persons with physical disabilities. If you require a translator, an accommodation for a hearing impairment or other accommodation, contact the Economic & Planning Office no later than 10 a.m., Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, by calling (508) 764-5402

The following proposed activities and descriptions for the fiscal year 2019 CDBG grant application have been listed by the Town of Southbridge:

Main Street Resurfacing and Traffic Signal Improvements

The downtown section of Main Street suffers from deficiencies in rideability and traffic flow. The condition of the road surface is worse in the eastbound lane approaching Goddard Street, where stopping traffic has “shoved” the pavement and formed deep waves. The four signalized intersection between South Street and Elm Street have a number of factors that negatively impact traffic flow. To address the poor ride quality, the road surface would be milled to remove the top layer of asphalt, eliminating the bumps caused by shoving along with any surface cracks. A new layer of asphalt pavement would then be applied to the road surface, with a mix designed to better withstand the shoving forces applied by stopping vehicles to avoid the same problem in the future. Concerns regarding the flow of traffic through the downtown area will be addressed with the replacement of the existing traffic signal system. The existing system will be replaced with a video detection system which can provide more detailed information to the traffic signals. For example, instead of knowing only if there is a car waiting for a signal, the video detectors can tell if there is traffic backing up on a certain street and adjust signals accordingly. The replacement of the traffic signals at these four intersections would also allow for the signals to be programmed to coordinate with each other, lowering the travel time through the downtown area and reducing stop-and-go.

Code Enforcement Officer – Inspections Department (Part-Time)

The Code Enforcement Program provides a proactive approach to code enforcement in the Downtown area, Worcester-Henry neighborhood, Morris-Coombs neighborhood and Globe Village. By holding landlords accountable to repairing and maintaining their buildings, the Code Enforcement Officer helps in eliminating slum and blight. The Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards requires municipalities to take various actions to ensure building safety. These actions include that buildings that are places of assembly (i.e., schools, churches, nursing homes and motels) be inspected annually. The State Board also requires that the exterior and common areas of multifamily buildings (3-family and larger) be inspected once every five years. The Code Enforcement Officer will ensure projects in the Town of Southbridge meet compliance in regard to local ordinances and regulations involving health and housing codes. Funding this part-time position would continue this critical blight prevention activity.

Code Enforcement Officer – Health Department

The Code Enforcement Program under, the Board of Health office, is different in that this code enforcer responds to complaints from tenants, including the interior of the properties. This position is being paid with Program Income funds that were added to the FY18 CDBG grant. The Town will fund 40 percent of the cost and CDBG will cover 60 percent. This position is crucial to effectively ensure compliance with 105 CMR 410.000: Minimum Standards for Fitness for Human Habitation.

Commercial Rehabilitation

Financial assistance will be provided for signs and/or awnings in the form of deferred payment loans that are forgivable after five years, if a business is still active at that location (or in the Downtown or Globe Village area). The applicant would owe 20 percent of the loan for each year (short of five years) that he/she moves or closes the business. A façade project will require a 25 percent deposit from the property owner. The 75 percent balance will be considered a deferred payment loan, forgivable after 10 years.

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