Six resident-owned communities have won grants to fund neighborhood improvement projects and spur increased Member participation in the process.
The ROC Association awarded six grants through the Better Together Community Grant Program, now in its seventh year. Association Directors chose the winners during their spring meeting in Washington, D.C., from a field of 20 applicants – the most ever submitted.
Kim Capen, ROC Association Director for the New England region, said choosing from among so many applications proved difficult.
“It got so hard we ended up having to add another grant,” Capen said.
Indeed, more than one successful applicant requested less than the full $2,000, so the Directors voted to put the remainder toward a sixth grant and successfully lobbied ROC USA’s President to fund the remainder.
“We had to whittle 20 down to five,” Capen said. “We got to six and couldn’t in good conscience pick one over the other. These projects were so similar we said, ‘Let’s see if we can stretch a little.”
The Grant winners were:
- Deer Estates Cooperative of Milan, N.H. Deer Estates will install a set of eight speed bumps in the 18-site community whose residents purchased in 2015. In Deer Estates’ application, Samantha Clark wrote that drivers “continue to neglect our 10 mph speed limit even after several attempts of requesting they slow down.” The $1,880 award will cover the purchase of speed bumps and installation hardware, the Clark said she hopes to have them all installed within two weeks of their purchase.
- Dover Point Cooperative of Dover, N.H. Dover Point will add heat to its community center. The 74-site ROC has been busy since purchasing in December 2016, having already completed a major road repair, converted a vacant building into a community center and installed a new sign. Project leader Richard Davidson wrote in Dover Point’s application that the ROC has already held a few community events, but the unheated building would mean an abrupt end to those this fall. “When done, the community center will be open to everyone at Dover Point Co-op,” he wrote. The $1,925 grant will cover the purchase and installation of a heating system and gas piping, with work beginning as soon as possible.
- Northwood Community of Ronan, Mont. Northwood will purchase and install a fenced-in playground for children in the ROC. There is an urgent need for safe play space at Northwood, where a child was hit by a car in November. “There needs to be a safe and healthy space for children to spend times outdoors within their own community,” Mary Sherman wrote in Northwood’s application. The $2,000 grant, along with donated fencing from a local company, will pay for a swing set, gravel, weed barrier, and other materials needed for the installation. Sherman said she expects the project to be completed by the end of August.
- Pepperidge Woods Cooperative of Barrington, N.H. Pepperidge Woods will repair and upgrade its playground, including installing a covered, locking sandbox following recent vandalism that had the Board considering removing the sandbox entirely. “A chemical was spilled in the sandbox which necessitates removing sand and blocking that portion of the play area off,” until the EPA could investigate, wrote Jane Astley in Pepperidge Woods’ application. The 44-site ROC is home to 26 children and the playground “is the most used area in our park,” Astley wrote. “We believe this will go a long way toward making the playground and park look more appealing particularly through the eyes of a child.” The $2,000 grant will go toward new playground equipment and supplies for installation.
- River Acres of Missoula, Mont. River Acres will install speed bumps in an effort to curb widespread speeding in the 31-site community purchased in February 2014. In River Acres’ application, Susan Villerreal wrote, “By installing three banks of speed bumps in the community, it will force motorists to slow down drastically and observe the posted speed limit in the community. This will increase safety for all residents, their children and pets.” The $1,660.59 grant, in conjunction with another grant from NeighborWorks Montana, will pay for the purchase of speed bumps and installation supplies.
- White Rock Cooperative Estates of Tilton, N.H. White Rock will build a bus shelter and repair a mail house that was damaged by a snowplow. The 28-site community, which residents purchased in 1991, sits along a busy road and Project Leader Kathleen Gray wrote in White Rock’s application that children and their parents wait for school buses unprotected in all weather conditions. “They need a safer and more comfortable place to wait,” she wrote. “Also, the mail box ‘house’ is a little crooked and no longer has the enclosed bulletin area.” Gray wrote that the ROC has secured donated labor from a local contractor and needs only to pay for supplies. The $2,000 will fund the purchase of materials for a 32-square-foot bus shelter and repair and beautification of the mailbox structure, including a new bulletin board.
The ROC Association also made a $50 donation to each non-winning applicant and encourages each Board of Directors – and all Boards for that matter – to celebrate the volunteer efforts.
Capen offered a few suggestions for future applicants. He said the Directors dismissed a few applications early in the process because they were incomplete.
“With so many compelling projects, that was an easy way to narrow it down,” he said. “It’s also important to have actual quotes for the work to be done. Some were just guesses, and others needed additional funds that weren’t accounted for so there was no guarantee the project could even get done.”
The Better Together Grants have been awarded since 2011. Stay tuned for the next round of grants, expected in spring 2018.