INDIANAPOLIS — Third time’s the charm.
Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) announced Thursday that Ligonier was awarded the grant it needs to repair the city’s drainage.
That means Ligonier gets $450,000 in the bank for the project, and it only has to pay out $150,000 from city funds.
Ligonier Mayor Patty Fisel got the news early Thursday morning and saw the entry for Ligonier on OCRA’s website.
“I’m elated. It’s awesome,” Fisel said. “I have to keep looking at it and making sure it’s still there.”
This grant cycle was different for Ligonier, since it used a different grant writer, Shannon McLeod of Priority Project Resources, rather than Matt Brinkman, the executive director of Region 3A.
McLeod was the same grant writer that Kendallville used to secure its $600,000 OCRA grant for downtown development after five previously failed attempts.
Fisel commended McLeod on her work with the grant, and also everyone else who worked to get the application through.
“She did an awesome job. Just fantastic,” Fisel said.
The city’s drainage system has been outdated for years, and is actually required by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to be fixed. However, the city has not had the money until now to do so.
Failing to comply with that requirement results in a fine. Since Ligonier had been in noncompliance before Fisel was elected, she walked into her office in 2008 to a $174,000 fine waiting for her on her desk.
Partial progress replacing old sewer lines has helped stop more fines from coming, but the project hasn’t been completed yet.
Having deteriorated lines creates sewer back-ups and ponding of water, not only making repairs costly and complicated, but creating a sewage smell in the homes of people who are hooked up to the old lines.
The length of new storm drainage lines to be added totals to 2,173 feet, or the length of about six football fields.
Also, 16 new inlets and standard manhole castings will be added.
“This funding will support projects that are crucial to their continued economic development efforts, and will ultimately improve the quality of life for residents throughout the community,” Crouch said in a press release.
Other projects that are awarded through the OCRA block grant include infrastructure improvement, downtown revitalization, public facilities and economic development.
From here on out, the city will meet with McLeod on specifics of securing the money.
And Fisel knows that actually fixing the lines, and the construction that will rip up the roads, won’t be popular. But it is necessary.
“We will more than likely have a lot of complaints,” Fisel said.
But, maps of where construction will happen will soon be available, so people can plan their routes accordingly.
“I’m hoping that we get some buy-in from our community and they can pay attention to what the whole plan is,” Fisel said.