The Town of Smyrna could receive funding for projects downtown and on Route 13, depending on how the state budget process concludes.
Town Manager Dave Hugg announced in a February Smyrna Town Council meeting there’s a possibility of funding for the Route 13 Corridor Project and Downtown Smyrna.
Hugg said its unknown what the likelihood is that Smyrna will receive the funding but it shows the town is willing to do the work.
In Gov. Jack Markell’s State of the State Address earlier this year he included a statewide Urban Redevelopment initiative that would provide $7 million for designated Downtown Development Districts.
Markell further explained the program in his budget overview. He hopes the initiative will strengthen and enhance downtown areas by incentivizing rehabilitation projects in downtowns. The funding incentives would not exceed 20 percent of the total project cost. Up to $1 million of the funding may be used for local downtown grants not to exceed $150,000 per locality in one year.
“We know revitalizing neighborhoods is an important part of making our streets safer,” Markell said in his State of the State. “We can replicate the success other communities have had in strengthening neighborhoods, while also harnessing the attraction that vibrant downtowns hold for talented young people and innovative small businesses.”
Hugg said the proposal is now a drafted piece of legislation in the general assembly. He said the legislation has gotten a lot of support from municipalities. For Smyrna, the funding would be designated for a program such as the town’s Redevelopment Authority.
Mayor Joanne Masten said the town needs the money to do some rehabbing to downtown such as to the Taggart Building on North Main Street.
“Any money we could get for downtown district funding would be very nice,” Masten said.
The proposed legislation suggests the criteria for designating a Downtown Development District includes the need and impact of such a designation, the quality of the town’s District Plan, and the quality of local incentives offered.
Through the Greater Kent Committee, Smyrna along with other county municipalities have requested funding for county-wide projects. Smyrna specifically has asked for money towards the Route 13 Corridor projects.
“It’s important to get us on the radar with legislators to get their support behind us,” Hugg said. “A lot of it depends on how bad or good the state’s revenue is this year.”
The five projects included in the proposal for Smyrna are sidewalks, directional signage, lighting enhancements, Duck Creek pedestrian bridge and trail system, and median improvements. The total cost of all five projects is $4.3 million.
There may be small aspects of the projects the town can start, but Hugg said the town will wait for grant money to come in to do the projects. He said the most important aspect is the directional signage. He hears all the time that people don’t know the town is here. He thinks funding from the state would greatly assist the town in completing the work that needs to be done on the Route 13 Corridor.
“It would definitely contribute to the viability of the economy, enhance the quality of life, make us more attractive and let people know where Smyrna is and this is our story,” Hugg said.