Block grants aimed at improvements

Township applied for grants to improve Pfeiffer Community Center, assist with affordable housing and infrastructure improvements on Black Horse Pike

Council recently passed a resolution to allow for community grant applications to be sent out. If awarded the $50,000 grant the township will make improvements to the Pfeiffer Community Center, namely making the bathrooms handicap accessible and adding a chair lift to the second floor. (Anthony J. Mazziotti III/The Sun)

In the movie “Aladdin,” the title character rubs a magic lamp and accidentally reveals a genie ready to grant him three wishes to the tune of “Friend Like Me.” The genie, in turn, grants Aladdin’s wishes making his wildest dreams come true. Council loosely followed the plot of the aforementioned Disney film when it passed three resolutions to apply for community development block grants to improve different aspects of the township.

The difference? The three “wishes” council had were to upgrade the Pfeiffer Community Center to be more handicap accessible, beefing up the market to affordable housing program and infrastructure improvements, specifically water and sewer, on the Black Horse Pike. The similarities? Both have a brand of magic that never fails.

In years past, council has used community block grants to add handicap doors to the Pfeiffer Center. This time around, it’s looking to use the $50,000 grant to replace the bathrooms, making them handicap accessible, in addition to installing a wheelchair lift to the second floor.

“We want to make improvements to Pfeiffer,” Councilman Cody Miller said. “We want to make sure we’re making immediate improvements. We have a lot of seniors there and a lot of residents, we want to make sure our buildings are handicap accessible. With Brandee [Derieux] doing all that she’s doing, we want to make sure everything is great for the residents.”

Next on the list is adding to the market to affordable housing program. This program is in place to provide affordable homes for low- to moderate-income families in town. If approved, the township will receive $50,000 to put toward rehabilitating or purchasing homes.

“I’ve always been a firm believer in using community development block grants for this purpose,” Miller said. “Using it for market to affordable is more worthwhile for the dollars. If we can provide home ownership to residents while getting $50,000 to help, it’s a great effort.”

He continued, saying the township is close to having a home rehabilitated and sold.

“We’re ready to continue to do more. This money will help us fund that initiative,” he concluded.

The third and final “wish” is to improve infrastructure, primarily water and sewer, on the Black Horse Pike. The first two projects would be completed through community development block grants. This project, if approved, will be completed through the Pinelands Commission Pinelands Infrastructure Trust Fund. This effort will entice commercial development, according to Miller. He said by providing water and sewer it could help offset costs for businesses that want to come to town.

The community development block grants and Pinelands Commission Pinelands Infrastructure Trust Fund are not guaranteed funds – council is merely in the application stage now. If approved, the money is free to use to improve the town so long as they stay within guidelines. Council should have an answer on whether the projects were approved for the grants and trust fund this summer. Check future issues of The Sun for updates.