CENTER, Tx. (KSLA) - An East Texas town is starting off the new year with a little bit more money to help improve its historic downtown.
The Texas Department of Agriculture recently notified Center, Texas city leaders that the town was approved for a $350,000 grant through its 2019 Downtown Revitalization Program.
“We were quite excited about it,” said Center Mayor David Chadwick. “(I) really couldn’t believe that we had lucked into such a timely opportunity to get a grant like this.”
This grant money will go towards reconstructing side alleys and extended sidewalks at four different locations adjoining their downtown square. This will help to improve pedestrian access, safety and more handicapped accessibility without impacting the city’s budget or taxpayers.
“To be able to find dollars that can go back in an enhance the area that they are investing in and their livelihood comes from,” said City Manager Chad Nehring. “It is really rewarding to be able to find some of these dollars and then put them back into this portion of the community.”
Nehring put together the city’s application for the grant and applied back in September and in December they were notified that they had won. He and the mayor both agree without this money they might not have been able to get this project done.
'Sometimes it’s just that extra incentive that is needed for us to be able to accomplish some things that we need to provide that a larger city may find it easier to find the resources we struggle at times with," Chadwick said.
Right now the city is currently undergoing a revitalization and streetscape project that began construction last October.
Connie Belgard currently owns Central Floral and the Coffee Cup located downtown. She’s had her business there for the last four years and admits the current construction right now has had an impact on things.
“We’re hoping that it’s a major improvement to draw people into the community, but as of right now this under a year-long construction it’s making it a little inconvenient but most of our loyal customers find a way to get to us," she said.
She knows it’s temporary though and believes once everything is done it will all pay off in the end.
“Everything about our little town is historical so we’re hoping that when people drive through, it’ll make them want to stop and stay for a little while and just hang out and get to know the people of Center,” Belgard said.
The city’s current streetscape project is anticipated to be completed before the annual Poultry Festival in October. The additional project that the grant money will pay for is anticipated to be completed by the end of this year.