It may be time for Ligonier to make a change with who is writing its stormwater grants.
The city was shut out for the third time trying to get a $480,000 grant under the State of Indiana’s Community Development Block Grant program in order to continue sewer separation work in the city. It’s a fiscally smart project, that officials state will save the city and its residents money by not having to treat clear water currently flowing to the sewer plant. Certainly, it’s state funds worth continuing to pursue.
But as we all know from our days of playing baseball, three strikes and you’re usually out.
For Kendallville, it took five strikes before the city decided to switch things up with its grant application under the same state program. Ligonier’s eastern neighbor had been utilizing the grant writing firm Region 3A for its grant applications, but after five misses, Kendallville officials opted to seek out a ringer, hiring Shannon McLeod of Priority Project Resources, a firm with a near-perfect record of getting grants.
While it may be coincidence that Kendallville suddenly got its grant on its first try with the new writer, we don’t suspect that it was.
Although it was never said outright, the subtext throughout various public meetings and conversations this spring was fairly clear — Kendallville’s five previous applications had serious deficiencies.
While McLeod’s services came with a $20,000 price tag, which the Kendallville Redevelopment Commission picked up, we expect few city officials would argue that getting $600,000 is a pretty good return on investment.
There are no guarantees in the grant business, true, but after three strikes, isn’t it time to bring a new batter to the plate? At a minimum, it’s important for local leaders to read grant submissions before they are submitted.
We urge Ligonier officials to consult Kendallville officials about its recent OCRA experience, as well as other area leaders in Auburn and Angola — communities that have also been successful in securing state grant funds — if the city intends to go for the stormwater grant a fourth time.