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A million dollar rescue

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West Perry is the focus of a $1 million grant proposal for community rehabilitation.

By Jessica Singleton

West Perry Street won the battle for a facelift. The city is applying for a $1 million grant to rehabilitate a section of the street.

Brian Kirby, president of Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA), is spearheading the project. CEDA representatives went door-to-door to assess the needs of the each home on both West and East Perry.

Although the Owenton City Council voted to concentrate its efforts on West Perry, the site selection is not final until a public hearing is held. Once the community voices are heard, the city council will vote on its final choice.

The grant can be used to renovate homes to bring them up to code with new roofing, plumbing or electrical work. Homes considered beyond repair will be torn down and rebuilt. A home is condemned if it has more than three code defects. Some small lots could be cleared and merged into larger lots. It is also possible to improve the infrastructure, like adding sidewalks and improving storm drains. However, if money is spent on infustruture, it will affect the overall budget.

“A million dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to,” Kirby said.

This is just the first phase of the project. Once 80 percent of the funds are spent, the city can apply for a second million dollars, which could be used to improve the rest of the properties on West Perry or homes on East Perry.

Participation in the program is mandatory. If a property owner refuses to sell a home or piece of land, the city will be required to enforce eminent domain.

If a rental home is demolished, the renter will be relocated to another rental property. They will be given moving expenses and the difference in rent for up to 60 months. The renters may also qualify for a home loan and become first-time home owners.

“We are not trying to kick anyone out,” Kirby said.

The program also allows for temporary housing for residents while their homes are under construction. If a lot is clear and ready for a new home to be built, that lot will be sold for a dollar. They will only be sold to low/middle income families who intend to live on the land. The family must qualify for a home-loan program and build a home on the land.

The preliminary grant application will be comlpete in January with the full application submitted in February.

If the grant is approved, the city should have the funds by May and construction could start next summer.

“We still have a lot of work that needs to be done,” Kirby said.