Village secures $500K in grants

Grants to fund parks, museum upgrades


The Rockville Centre Board of Trustees approved the acceptance of two proposed grants at its meeting on Monday, in a move that will bring more than $500,000 in funding to the village.

According to the village’s public relations officer, Julie Grilli, the bulk of the money comes from a grant from Nassau County, and will be combined with $325,000 from the 2009 Nassau County Environmental Bond Fund to pay for renovations at Centennial Park, also known as the Mill River complex.

Village officials plan to widen the park’s western shore walkway into a pedestrian and bike path and extend it all the way to Merrick Road, which will allow residents to reach the park’s northern boundary without having to cross the parking lot at the Department of Public Works. Other possible enhancements include the installation of pathway lighting, exercise stations and new plantings, the replacement of signage and benches and the stabilization of the bank of Mill River.

The improvements will follow recent efforts to spruce up the area, including the refurbishing of basketball courts and the installation of new flooring at the park’s playground.

“We go after everything we can, and this has never been done before like this in the village’s history,” said Mayor Francis X. Murray. “It’s one of my pride and joys.”

Another approved grant, for $20,000, is a Nassau County Hotel/Motel Proceeds Grant, funded by taxes on hotel and motel rooms in the county and intended for the restoration of historic buildings and other cultural enhancements. The money, combined with $90,000 from a Hotel/Motel Proceeds Grant obtained earlier this year, will fund upgrades at the Phillips House Museum, a restored Victorian-era home in the village, including the waterproofing of the basement, the installation of air conditioning and the replacement of windows.

The grants are the latest in a number of acquisitions by the village administration and its grant coordinator, Kathleen Murray. Since Mayor Murray took office in 2011, the village has received nearly $5 million from grants, gifts and private-public partnerships with such entities as Molloy College and South Nassau Communities Hospital.

The administration has been especially successful in obtaining grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, raising over $388,000 for bailout systems, self-contained breathing apparatuses, and radios for the village Fire Department since 2003. Other, smaller donations, like a $10,000 gift from Game 7 Basketball, are being used to fund such projects as the refurbishing of the basketball court at Reverend Morgan Days Field.

Plans for securing new grants are numerous and comprehensive. One key objective is a $933,000 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER, grant. Distributed by FEMA, the grants are used to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters as well as for the development of marketing and training programs, the purchase of firefighting gear and the improvement of disability insurance.

The village also hopes to secure grant funding for new vehicles for the Senior Transport Program, improvements to walkways and sidewalks throughout Rockville Centre, the purchase of more than 3,000 pairs of shoes for victims of Hurricane Sandy and the long-delayed Maple Avenue revitalization project, begun under former Mayor Eugene Murray.

“The village should apply for every grant possible that is available to it, and should use it as best we can,” said Trustee Edward Oppenheimer. “If people want to give us money, I’ll take it. On the other hand, I don’t want to see us put off a necessary project because we didn’t get the grant we applied for.”

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