3 Upper Valley Groups Set to Receive Grants from Northern Border Regional Commission
Enfield — Three Upper Valley organizations are among 14 in New Hampshire that are slated to receive federal grants from the Northern Border Regional Commission, the state’s congressional delegation announced this week.
The matching grants, which approach $3 million this year, are aimed at encouraging economic growth in rural Grafton, Sullivan, Coos and Carroll county communities, according to a joint news released from the delegation.
About $135,400 of the funds will be used to build a pavilion at Mascoma Lakeside Park, a roughly 3-acre lakefront property that Enfield is hoping to soon purchase from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.
Other grants include about $154,300 to expand services and purchase equipment at Mascoma Community Health Center in Canaan, and $250,000 to help the Dartmouth Regional Technology Center purchase a laboratory-grade air handling system.
“We’re very excited about the grant,” said Enfield Town Manager Ryan Aylesworth, who is working to secure the park near Main Street and the Northern Rail Trail.
Mascoma Lakeside Park is managed by the town, and officially opened in 2016 with picnic benches, a maintained shoreline and non-motorized boat launch. However, Enfield officials hope the property someday can become a second town beach.
Enfield has gathered $128,600 in private donations needed to purchase the park from the state, and final approval by the Executive Council is expected sometime later this month, Aylesworth said.
The Northern Border grant would then be used to pay for a phase of construction and improvements at the park, Aylesworth said, adding the idea of building a pavilion was born from a 2015 community charrette.
“There are a lot of local officials and town elders who believe strongly that a high-quality pavilion would not just provide a nice shelter, a place for people to get out of the elements, but to be used for seasonal group outings,” he said. “(But) we want to collect more information, more feedback from residents before any final decisions are made.”
At the health center, grant money will be used for a mix of immediate upgrades and future expansion, said Canaan Town Administrator Mike Samson, who sits on the nonprofit’s board of directors.
The health center likely will purchase its own propane tank and generator to serve the facility off of Route 4, he said. Money also will be set aside for a pharmacy as well as physical therapy and radiology equipment.
The Northern Border Regional Commission has awarded grants to New Hampshire communities since 2010, with past Upper Valley contributions including $150,000 to finish renovations at River Valley Community College’s Lebanon campus, $150,000 to refurbish the Charles Beaman home in Cornish and $150,000 for revitalization of 10,000 square-feet of historic space at Opera House Square in Claremont.
Overall, more than $30 million in funding has so far been distributed among 155 grants in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and upstate New York.
President Donald Trump proposed eliminating the commission’s funding as part of a $1.15 trillion budget proposal released in March 2017. However, the organization was ultimately given $15 million in the 2018 fiscal year.
New Hampshire’s congressional delegation also has sponsored a bill that would expand the commission’s mandate for another five years and expand its mission to two additional Granite State counties.
“The Northern Border Regional Commission has been an essential player in spurring growth and opportunity in rural communities throughout the Granite State,” Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., said in the release, in which all four members of the congressional delegation reiterated their support for expanded grant funding.