With $300,000 in Community Livability grants available for the Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area (URA), as well as in the Lents Town Center URA, which includes the stretch of Foster running through Foster-Powell, Mt. Scott-Arleta, and a part of Creston-Kenilworth, Mt. Scott Learning Centers will be the sole beneficiary of grant money in the neighborhood.
Compared to the Interstate Corridor URA, which received $273,495 in grant money, the project at Mt. Scott Learning Centers will account for only $65,000 of the $300,000 that was available. The project will improve interior space at the alternative middle/high school, located at 61st and Holgate, while increasing space for computer labs, workforce training, and meetings.
While it is a score for the neighborhood to improve upon an educational facility in the area, it begs the question: Did we miss an opportunity for more?
The Community Livability Grants are designed for real property improvements to “public facilities and neighborhood and cultural amenities that meet the needs and honor the diversity of area residents,” as stated on the PDC’s website. Naturally, SE Foster and 92nd could use such improvements, as well as the many other streets scattered within the URA boundary.
Along Interstate, nine projects were awarded grants that totaled over $273,000. So why only one project in Lents-Foster area? Is this a question of lacking applications? Insufficient proposals? Inequity in distribution?
It is unknown how many applications were received within the Lents TCURA, but the money was certainly there. With an abundance of need in the area, both for improved public facilities and cultural amenities, it will be important moving forward that we take advantage of such opportunities for city assistance. Along Interstate, for example, neighborhood groups were able to secure grant funding for such projects as a community cycling center, a playground, ADA improvements in multiple buildings, and a “small orchard and perennial food forest in the Overlook neighborhood.” Such improvements would all be welcome to this part of Southeast, and we’re fortunate to see Mt. Scott Learning Centers receive a boost. Perhaps next year, though, we can organize a more concerted effort to ensure more projects receive funding locally and get the full share of the pot.