City approves $1M grant application for Lincoln Street project

The Winchester Board of Commissioners took the first step on redeveloping Lincoln Street this week as they voted to apply for a $1 million federal grant.

The commissioners also approved four related resolutions during their meeting Tuesday night.

The city is pursuing a federal Community Development Block Grant for the first phase of redeveloping Lincoln Street. According to the submitted urban renewal plan, the funds would cover installation of new water and sewer lines, widening the street itself, demolishing 10 houses, construction of seven new homes to meet current codes and relocation benefits for current residents.

“I’ve spoken to several members of the Urban Renewal Board (Tuesday),” Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner said. “It’s a good thing for us to move forward.”

The city has previously demolished several houses on the street and converted the narrow street to one-way for traffic.

Consultant Kriss Lowry said there was no opposition to the project during a public meeting last week. The application for the grant is due Aug. 1. Burtner said the city likely wouldn’t find out if is is approved until early 2018.

The plan also states about 17 parcels of land would be obtained, including the 10 houses, to allow for street widening and property consolidation to meet current zoning standards. Renters would be moved to safe housing and given the opportunity to purchase a lot to rebuild a home for $1, according to the plan.

The city also agreed to donate its lot at 20 Lincoln St. to the project. Presently, there are nine occupied homes on Lincoln Street, all of which were deemed to be substandard. Two structured on Hickman Street would be included, because of the street widening. Those homes are only three feet apart, the plan said.

When completed, new sidewalks, curbs and drains would be installed as well. On those lots bordering the railroad tracks, new homes would be built farther forward on the lots to reduce noise from the trains.

In other action the commissioners:

— approved the crack fill and seal program and paving and milling program for city streets for fiscal year 2018.

— appointed Tim Smith and reappointed Robert Blanton to the Main Street Winchester board of directors for a three year term beginning Sept. 1.

— voted to appropriate budgeted funds for the Generations Center, Community Education and Winchester-Clark County Farmers’ Market.

— approved an order to hire Bradley J. Danner as a paramedic patient transfer specialist.

— approved a 2 percent raise for crossing guards.

— approved an order employing Rose Mary Gibson as a crossing guard.