By Debbie Carson, Online Editor
FELLSMERE — Fellsmere residents who waited to apply for a city assistance program to spruce up their homes have waited too long. The city suspended its Residential Facade Improvement Program at the council’s last meeting.
The city will instead focus more of its efforts on the Commercial Facade Improvement Program to make “more beneficial use of funds,” said City Manager Jason Nunemaker during the meeting.
Nunemaker said that the 10 residences that had received city assistance through the residential program have been completed and closed out.
The city is also working on developing another grant program that would help offset some of the costs for businesses to hook into the city’s water and sewer system.
That program would help pay up to $5,000 to defray a portion of the business’s impact fees or hard costs in connecting to the system, according to Nunemaker.
Businesses located within the city’s redevelopment area are eligible to apply for the Commercial Facade Improvement grant. To date, the city has helped at least eight businesses enhance their curbside appeal by providing financial assistance for replacing signs, painting the outside of the building, planting landscaping, and other such improvements.
Juanita Almanza’s El Ranchito, at 8 S. Lime St., is one such beneficiary of the grant.
“It was terrible,” Almanza said of how the building looked before she received the improvement grant.
The business was in dire need of a fresh coat of paint, replacement of the fascia board and landscaping, she said.
“Her building looks great,” Nunemaker said.
Almanza said that though she did not believe that her building’s condition was keeping business away, she has noticed that more new customers started coming in after the improvements were made.
Many of her customers have complimented the new and improved building, saying they like the color scheme, she added.
“It helped a lot,” Almanza said. “It’s like coming into a new building.”
And, if not for the grant assistance, “it would have stayed the same,” she added.
Other businesses that have received help from the city include Granny’s Grocery on State Street, Shelly Ann’s Beauty Salon on N. Broadway, the Fellsmere Inn, the Lilly Pad next to Marsh Landing, Herndon Second Hand Store also on N. Broadway, and Stick Marsh Bait and Tackle on S. Mulberry Street.