After her re-election as Rockland’s Mayor on Nov. 21, 2022, Louise MacLellan-Ruf stated that one of her goals is to focus on the need to receive more grant money. One of the most popular programs available to non-metropolitan municipalities, such as Rockland, for receiving grants is the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program funded by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In Maine the CDBG program for non-metro areas is administered by the Office of Community Development (OCD). In the years 1998 thru 2011 the City of Rockland applied for and received 26 CDBG grants for a total of $4,082,000 in grant revenues. This is in addition to the Municipal Investment Trust Fund and the Commission on Maine’s Future grant revenues received from OCD in the amount of $861,000 for a combined total of nearly five million dollars. Most of these grants ranged in size from $100,000 to $400,000. These revenues were used for the following city projects: stormwater and sewer separation in the South End; installation of a stormwater interceptor on lower Summer Street to alleviate downtown basement flooding; new downtown sidewalk, curbing, and crosswalk installation along with a paved plaza and tree plantings and new street lighting; the substantial rehabilitation of 10 affordable apartment buildings; major facility renovations to the Flanagan Recreation Building; Sandy Beach Park improvements and harbor trail pavers; and for Thorndike parking lot lighting.

In contrast, for the period between 2012 and 2022 the city only received four CDBG grants for a total of $530,000. Three were pass-through business assistance grants and none were for the city. During this period the city’s inactivity in applying for CDBG grants potentially resulted in the loss of several million dollars in grant revenues. However, in 2023 the Council and the staff can begin to turn this around. Provided they can meet the eligibility requirements, the city has the opportunity to initiate a robust process for applying for funding assistance for future stormwater management projects; for the rehabilitation of affordable multi-family housing units by an approved developer; and for Main Street sidewalk improvements south of Limerock Street.

In most communities the community development director or the town or city planner is responsible for writing CDBG applications. In Rockland we have both. For this reason, there is no need to contract for outside grant writing services.

Rodney Lynch