LEICESTER, Mass. — Funds from a federal grant could potentially help the Town of Leicester make improvements to its Town Hall, including installation of an elevator to allow more accessibility for seniors and disabled residents.
The project is one of three for Leicester that the town will apply for in the Fiscal Year 2013 Community Development Block Grant, which could also support installation of a generator for Leicester's Housing Authority as well as a housing rehabilitation assistance program.
With the help of Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC), Leicester has partnered with Charlton to apply for the grant.
For the town hall accessibility project, the funds would allow the town to hire an architect to evaluate the building and design improvements to make it more compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, according to Andrew Loew, PVPC Senior Planner.
"Most likely that would include adding an elevator and related improvements," he said.
In December, the town held a meeting at the town hall with the Leicester Commission on Disabilities as well as the Friends of the Elders to discuss the project and identify accessibility difficulties in the building.
To further get feedback from the community, the town has also set up a survey that is available on its website as well in the lobby of the Town Hall.
"We'd love to get feedback from people, especially seniors and disabled folks, so that they can highlight which parts of the building they find most challenging," said Loew.
The grant would also allow the town to restart the regional housing rehabilitation program, which allows low-to-moderate income residents living within a target area in Leicester to make improvements to their homes.
Ranging from a new roof or furnace, replacement septic tank or new windows, Loew explained the improvements could include "any kind of code-compliance project, or healthy and safety project, or even energy-efficiency project," up to $30,000.
If residents don't sell their home for 15 years, the loan for the project "effectively turns into a grant," said Loew. "If they were to sell their home halfway through that period, they would have to repay half of the project cost."
Last year, the program allowed for projects in 22 homes in Leicester.
"It was very successful and we were able to help a lot of families do work on their homes that they wouldn't otherwise have been able to do," said Loew.