GAITHERSBURG – The City of Gaithersburg awarded Neighborhood Improvement Grants to 14 neighborhood and homeowner associations on Aug. 20.
The grants, provided through the city and the Frederick J Felton Neighborhood Matching Grant Program, totaled over $40,000.
The program is meant to give neighborhoods an incentive to improve their communities and beautify the Gaithersburg area. The funding can go toward such aspects as sidewalk enhancement, lighting upgrades, fence replacement, parking lot enhancements, community block parties and other improvements.
“This program is a unique program and serves as an incentive for HOAs, COAs and other community groups to improve the appearance or safety of their neighborhoods,” said Monica Marquina, who serves as the legislative affairs manager for the city of Gaithersburg. “In addition to community events and professional consultants, this year in an ongoing effort to go paperless, where we can get started implementing a portal for seamless processing of these grant requests.”
Marquina explained that out of 17 applications, 14 will receive funding once the mayor and council approve it.
“A team with representatives from the city manager’s office and neighborhood services carefully reviewed these applications and are recommending that 14 grants be awarded,” Marquina said. “Those that were not approved were deemed to be maintenance. As (the council) knows, the city budget is $50,000 for this year and the staff is also recommending announcing a second grant period toward the remaining funds. This is a very popular program.”
She explained that the second round of funding would go toward other communities and maximize the funding budgeted. Given the total funding for the first round came to about $60,000, there is still money budgeted that could go towards more neighborhood improvements.
“Many people are doing well, and they don’t need our assistance, which is always a good thing. But we also want to make sure that we’re using our resources wisely (that) we budgeted for (these grants),” she said. “So, we think that it’s best to announce another round or a second round of grant opportunities for these communities.”
Mayor Jud Ashman noted that the program is beneficial and helps to improve the city.
“This is a good program, named after a good guy who believed very strongly in the strength and upkeep of our neighborhoods,” Ashman said.
Gaithersburg’s City Manager Frederick J. Felton oversaw the program, according to Marquina. The program was named for Felton back in 2010, according to a report in The Town Courier.
“He had formed many strong relationships with members of the various communities and enjoyed helping them in any way that he could. The program was named for him in memoriam,” Marquina said.
Marquina explained that she, along with Ashman, like to see how neighborhoods make their improvements with the extra funding. In the past, neighborhoods have improved and added upon community entryway signs, landscaping and tot lots, which are small playgrounds for children.
“It’s nice to see some new communities on the list, and I think that people are understanding what our intent is and how they can use it,” said Councilmember Michael Sesma. “Everybody understands that we’re not funding 100% of any of these requests, that funding is partial; you know, it’s a matching fund. But it’s good use and very creative.”
The council passed the resolution allocating the grant funding unanimously. Marquina explained that recipients of the grant funding will receive a letter in the mail outlining the amount of money allocated and authorizing the organization to proceed with their projects.
You can find a list of the neighborhood associations that have been awarded funding at: https://www.gaithersburgmd.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=6252