By Debbie Carson, Online Editor
FELLSMERE — With the budget season upon them, city leaders in Fellsmere are anxiously awaiting word more than $5 million in grant funds that could be used for expanding the water plant and sewer service, and hiring two new police officers and a crime scene technician.
City Manager Jason Nunemaker said that the city should hear in the coming months about the status of their various grant requests.
“It’s just hard to tell,” he said of when the city will hear the outcomes of their grant requests. He added that the city hopes to hear by November or December. Two of the grants, if awarded the maximum amount, would more than pay for the city’s planned water plant expansion project. The project is expected to cost $2.8 million and more than double the plant’s capacity from 650,000 gallons a day to 1.65 million gallons a day.
The two grants could come from the USDA and the Department of Environmental Protection. Combined, the grants could equate to a maximum of $3.5 million.
The City of Fellsmere’s police department has applied for two law enforcement grants that could allow the department to retain one officer, hire two more and bring on a crime scene evidence technician – a first for the force.
Other city grant requests include $200,000 from the Rural Business Enterprise Grant, which would allow the city to expand its sewer service on the east side of Broadway Avenue, allowing the Fellsmere Inn and other businesses on that side of the road to connect to the city sewer system. Currently, for those businesses to hook up to the system, they would have to pay for their own sewer line and a lift station.
Nunemaker said that the city is also looking to receive $650,000 in a Community Development Block Grant for paving and drainage projects yet to be determined.
Fellsmere grants at a glance
USDA: Between $700,000 and $1.12 million – for water plant expansionRural Business Enterprise Grant: $200,000 – for sewer service expansion on BroadwayDEP: Up to $2.38 million – for water plant expansionCDBG: $650,000 – for paving, drainage projectsFlorida Recreation Development Assistance Program: $400,000 – for two projects, establish a “water park” out of an “unsightly” stormwater retention pond west of Grant Park to allow fishing, and establish primitive camping and better trails at the Fellsmere PreserveDepartment of Justice “Cops” Grant: $348,000 – for 3 police positions (retain 1, hire 2)Edward Byrne Memorial Grant: $145,000 – for 1 crime scene evidence technician