Winchester Earmarks Money Towards Downtown Grant

By Benjamin Cox on January 7, 2022 at 9:28am

A West Central Illinois community took an extra step Wednesday night to increase their chances at a major grant from the state.

The City of Winchester earmarked $25,000 towards their application to the Rebuild Downtowns & Main Streets Capital Grant. The money is going towards a $1.5 million proposal to rehabilitate pavement, utilities, and sewers in the Downtown Winchester area.

Greg Hillis of Benton & Associates told the Winchester City Council that the extra money would help earn their application extra points towards possibly getting awarded the grant through the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity: “There is one piece in the application that the city can put money towards this grant. Like I’ve said, it’s a 100% grant and it doesn’t say that you have to, but if you do put some money towards this grant, you get additional points. That would be up to the city council if you wanted to look at putting some money towards this grant or not to get the additional points. It doesn’t say how many additional points that you get. It just says additional points.”

Hillis says that the grant paperwork doesn’t specify how much of a potential match would be required to get points to move up in the award process. Hillis says that Winchester already has some potential past projects working in its favor in the application: “The cost of the project is $1.5 million. When we went for this grant previously, some time back it was $1.7 million. Since then, you’ve done sidewalks and you’ve enhanced some areas and the lighting’s already in there, so we were able to deduct that out. So, this project is for new concrete [pavement] completely around the square and we are also putting in the new water mains and a storm sewer because this is not just street work only. We are doing it for utilities also. Once you get done with this, you are going to have new storm sewer underneath the street, as well. So you are right at a little over $1.5 million for this grant.”

Hillis says that city would also be eligible to earmark from their federal ARPA money since the project does include water and sewer utility upgrades. Winchester is among several communities in the listening area competing for a portion of the $50 million available in the grant program. The application is due to DCEO by Monday.