Nearly $20,000 in grants is being used to spruce up Amherst’s historical downtown shopping district, and there’s still more cash available to business owners.
Dentist Michael Musengo has a new $997 awning at his Church Street practice. And this summer, Dave Coffman will get $18,205 toward new roofing of the huge Park Avenue buildings he owns.
The Do or Dye Salon and the row building from Vintage Lighting all the way to Park Bar & Grille (Park Lanes) will get new roofs. Coffman will pay roughly $54,000 for the work and the grants will be used for partial reimbursement.
County commissioners voted earlier this month to OK the use of state grant money for the projects. The grants were won by Main Street Amherst, a nonprofit that works to preserve the traditional character of the downtown area.
The original grant was for $400,000 but a large portion was used by city officials last year to expand parking.
That left $146,600 for business owners, who applied to Main Street for projects. Each property could apply for up to $10,000.
There’s still $87,000 left in the kitty. Main Street director Teresa Gilles said wants business and property owners to act fast to get it, because the grant cash has to be used by September.
Previously, the money has been used by chiropractor Jeremy Watson for new windows and awnings at his Park Avenue practice and neighboring building, which he also owns.
Gilles said she is working to approve a list of projects other businesses want to pursue, mostly siding, fencing, painting, tuck-pointing, and other exterior repairs that will help make the downtown look better.
Almost all projects are approved as long as they fit under the umbrella allowed by the state. They can potentially be rejected, however, by commissioners — Matt Lundy voted against the two-part Coffman roofing project but was overridden by fellow commissioners Ted Kalo and Lori Kokoski.
Certain types of spending — decorative fountains, for instance — simply aren’t allowed.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.