February 1, 2023

Essex Seeks $471,500 State Grant for Town Hall Parking Lot and Tennis Court Improvements, Chester Seeks Grant for Main Street Project

ESSEX/ CHESTER—  Essex has applied for a $471,500 state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant for improvements to the town hall parking lot, tennis courts, and children’s playscape on Grove Street, while officials in Chester are seeking a $300,000 STEAP grant to help fund the Main Street project.

A total of $20 million in state funding is available in tre 2012-2013 fiscal year for the grant program that is intended to assist smaller towns with major projects and economic development efforts that also benefit the surrounding region. Chester, Essex, and Deep River have been awarded STEAP grants for an array of projects ranging from road and sidewalk improvements to a new boat launch since the program was first funded in 2002.

Contending the town hall and adjacent Grove Street Park, along with the Essex Public Library across the street represent a “civic campus” that hosts a variety of charitable and tourism-related events, Essex is seeking funding to reconstruct the town hall parking lot, including a reconfigured entrance, and pave an existing gravel parking area to provide spaces for 22 additional vehicles. The application also seeks funding to resurface the existing tennis courts including lighting, and replace an existing playscape with a new handicapped accessible playscape. The town has proposed providing $15,000 in funding and services for the project that is estimated to cost a total; of $486,000.

Chester is seeking $300,000 to help complete the funding package for the long-planned Main Street Project, which includes reconstructing most of Main Street in and near the downtown village. The town already has a $200,000 grant for the project that was awarded in 2009, along with $370,000 in funding set aside by the town.

Town officials are hoping to use about $325,000 remaining from a 2010 grant to construct a new public public water line in the area of Denlar Drive off Route 154 for the Main Street project. The water line extension, which is funded by a total $500,000 STEAP grant, was completed this summer. Combining the requested new $300,000 grant with the available funding would provide the estimated $1.25 million that is needed to complete the Main Street project.

Town officials are expected to receive notice later this year on whether the grant applications have been approved for funding.