UCB Awards 20 Development Grants

    GRAND RAPIDS — The Urban Cooperation Board on Aug. 7 announced 20 grants totaling $233,013 in its second annual round of such awards.

    The coalition of nine municipalities uses member dues to support regional development initiatives and projects that have impact across municipal boundaries, said Walker City Manager James Hatch, a facilitator for the UCB grant process.

    UCB is comprised of the cities of Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Walker, and the townships of Ada, Cascade, Grand Rapids, Tallmadge and Wright.

    The mayors and township supervisors compose the board whose communities are customers of the Grand Rapids utility system.

    The board focuses on eight areas: housing and human services; recreational and cultural activities and facilities; planning activities; brownfield redevelopment; transportation; disaster recovery; and emergency services.

    Eligible applicants include units of local government, nonprofits, and regional organizations serving UCB members or working in the same areas of emphasis.

    The 2002 awards are:

    • Indian Trails Camp, $15,000 for nursing costs.
    • Friends of the Library of East Grand Rapids, $8,000 for the East Grand Rapids History Room.
    • Salvation Army Booth Family Services, $10,000 toward transportation for clients.
    • Grand Valley Metro Council, $25,000 for natural resource management. Total award of $75,000 to be distributed over three years.
    • Reformed Bible College, $5,000 for “Connecting with Community” program.
    • The Recuperation Center, $10,000 for expansion.
    • Kent County Emergency Medical Services, $8,163.50 for communication support for disaster response.
    • MSU Extension-United Growth for Kent County, $10,000 for citizen planner and urban neighborhood planner.
    • MSU Extension-United Growth for Kent County, $5,000 for farmland preservation. Total award was $8,000; remaining $3,000 to be distributed in 2003.
    • Porter Hills Retirement Communities & Services, $2,850 for wetlands restoration and educational programming.
    • Inner City Christian Federation, $10,000 for the Wealthy-Jefferson development initiative.
    • The Delta Strategy, $13,000 for dialogue/action groups for reducing poverty initiative.
    • Friends of the Walker Highland Trails, $30,000 for the Grand-Walk Trail.
    • Interurban Transit Partnership, $30,000 toward a major corridor study.
    • Grand Rapids Cable Access Center, $7,500 for wireless planning network.
    • YWCA, $10,000 for emergency shelter transportation.
    • Grand Rapids Area Center for Ecumenism, $5,000 for Faith in Motion: community organizing and education.
    • Senior Meals Program Inc., $13,000 for emergency meals.
    • Christian Counseling Center, $2,500 for Project Hope.
    • Global Enterprise for Water Technology, $13,000 for the Clearwater Plaza water research facility.

    Many grants are for partial funding of projects.

    Seven of the 20 grants awarded this year were for the full amount requested, Hatch said.

    Total payments this time around were actually $323,013, which included two second-year payments on multi-year awards the board made in 2001.

    Hatch said there were 27 applications this year totaling more than $600,000 in requests.

    Last year, the UCB’s inaugural year, it handed out awards totaling $281,000 to 21 applicants.

    Applicants that didn’t receive a grant this year can reapply next year.

    A grant request that would benefit just one community is not looked at adversely, Hatch explained, but those that have more regional impact are stronger candidates for grants.

    “There’s a lot of debate that goes back and forth on the strength of the applications and the strength of the programs — and the amount,” he added.

    “If somebody is asking for $2,500 it’s likely they’ll get funded at 100 percent; if somebody wants $100,000, it’s very unlikely. We try to accommodate as many applications as we can.”

    Dues for UCB members go up every year by 25 cents. They started last year at $1 per capita and are $1.25 per capita this year.

    When it hits $2.50 per capita, Hatch said, the annual increase will be based on the Consumer Price Index. If the CPI is 3 percent, for example, dues will increase per capita by 3 percent.

    Hatch noted that the only customer community that is not a member of UCB at this point is the North Kent Sewer Authority, which encompasses five communities — four townships and the city of Rockford.

    If they become a customer to the new water and sewer service agreement, they must become a member of the UCB, Hatch said.

    “But they’re in the process of pursuing their own wastewater treatment facility so that they can sever their relationship with the city of Grand Rapids for utility services. Consequently, they would not be a member of the Urban Cooperation Board.”           

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