SoCo applies for grant to fix Newsoms’ draining, housing issues

Published 10:18 am Saturday, March 28, 2015

With nearly the entire population of Newsoms in attendance to show their support, the Southampton County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an application for the 2015 Community Improvement Grant. The grant would help fund the project to fix standing water, flooded ditches and deteriorated housing issues in the small town.

In early 2013, the Town of Newsoms contacted a large consulting firm to study the effect ways of improving these issues. After extensive research, the firm broke down the town into four study areas and recommended that the town extensively regrade the ditches and replace piping in each.

Serving as a fiscal agent, the board of supervisors subsequently assisted the town in applying for a $25,000 planning grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. This enabled the town to assess the neighborhood’s infrastructure issues and develop a plan to cure the identified deficiencies.

The County was ultimately successful in obtaining the grant, and has since been contemplating the firm’s recommendation of dividing the town into four drainage sub-basins. Within those four study areas, members of the town assessed the houses and graded them on their condition and occupancy. Those grades included excellent, good, average, poor and deteriorated, as well as occupied, partially, unoccupied, boarded or unknown.

Using this data, the town has decided that study areas two and four are in the most need of assistance and will be considered the initial focus area once proper funds are acquired.

With a projected price tag of $1,002,447, the 2015 Community Improvement Grant will not fund the entire venture.

It is estimated that the DHCD has more than $15.8 million available for distribution to communities in need throughout the state, and approximately $10.3 million will be made available for competitive projects, such as that in Newsoms.

The county applied for $1 million from the DHCD, its max allowance, and it is not known at this time whether or not they’ll receive the full amount requested. Seeing as the funds will already fall short of the projected price tag, the board can reapply for the remainder next year.

Of that project price tag, $560,497 will be aimed at fixing the drainage issues and $441,950 will help restore the deteriorating housing.

County administrator Michael W. Johnson said that he expects governor Terry McAuliffe to announce the winners of the grant in June.