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Lettering completed for West End entrance

 

SALISBURY — At the crossroads of Brenner Avenue and West Monroe Street, letters spelling out “West End” went up on a brick entrance sign Thursday.

Through a collaboration of the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation, the city of Salisbury and West End Pride, the signage represents a goal of the West End Neighborhood Vision project to make neighborhood gateways distinctively vibrant.

The Robertson foundation helped pay for the signage, which cost $12,000. A plaque will be added in September. 

Foundation Executive Director Jason Walser said he is excited about the entrance and hopes it will make West End residents proud of the community and excited about more changes to come.

“As long as residents see progress in the community, we will build credibility,” Walser said.

The sign is one of the planned or underway projects for the summer. Another is a housing grant program that Salisbury Community Development Corp. started accepting applications for on July 31.

Chanaka Yatawara, executive director of the corporation, said it has approved five applications and more than 20 other people have picked up applications.

He said the applications differ in requests, including residents who want a new roof, window repairs and other maintenance. He said the applicants so far are all homeowners and not landlords.

At a July 31 informational session on the West End housing grant program, several residents raised concerns. The grants can be as much as $10,000 and are placed with a deferred and interest-free mortgage lien on the property for five years. The lien is forgiven after if the property is not transferred or sold during that five-year period.

Several residents said they were worried about what would happen if they died during the five years and whether the family member who inherited the home would be billed for repayment of the full lien amount.

Janet Gapen, planning director of the city, said some changes were made in the program after the informational sessions. They include:

• The lien will be forgiven after five years provided the owner or landlord continues to own the property.

• The transfer of ownership to an estate or if the property is willed to family or another entity will not trigger repayment of the lien.

• The lien balance will decrease by 20 percent every year.

• The sale of the house in less than five years would trigger repayment of the balance due.

Yatawara said the last two changes mean if someone receives a $10,000 grant but chooses to sell the house after a year, he would have to pay $8,000. After two years, he would repay $6,000, and so forth.

He said the city is not looking to make money off the grant program.

“If they sell it, the city doesn’t want the money back,” he said.

Yatawara said the grant program has frightened people but he is hoping residents will become more comfortable, especially after they begin the five applicants’ projects.

“I hope they see the advantages of this program,” Yatawara said.

The Community Development Corp. will inspect and put out bid requests in the next couple of weeks with the goal of starting projects in six weeks. Yatawara said the agency is looking for contractors to help with the improvements.

Grant applications are still being accepted for the program and will be until the $400,000 is allocated. For more information about the grants or to apply, visit Salisbury Community Development Corp. at 1400 W. Bank St. or call 704-216-2738.

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