Tag: Grants

District grants disputed $46 million tax abatement to Adams Morgan hotel

The audit also concluded the developer did not meet a mandate to grant all its apprenticeships to District residents.

The Bowser administration approved the abatement “after a confidential mediation with the Office of the Attorney General, review of additional documentation submitted to the OAG and updated legal guidance,” a spokeswoman for the Department of Employment Services said in a statement Friday.

The granting of the tax subsidy was first announced by the Line, which has long contended that it met all requirements. Jake Lamstein, the managing partner of the Sydell Group, which developed the Line, said in a statement that the hotel had been “vindicated.”

“In a time of such uncertainty it is nice to see that facts and law still prevail over the self interest of a very few,” he said.

But council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), chair of the council’s Labor and Workforce Committee, said she wants to review the new information the hotel presented to the District.

“I’m surprised and angry the council was not alerted to this redetermination,” said Silverman, who had been unaware that the District had granted the subsidy. “We want to understand what changed to meet these milestones.”

The spokeswoman for the employment services agency did not respond to a request for additional detail on why it issued the subsidy.

Michael Robbins, a Line spokesman, said the hotel gave “the same” documentation it had previously submitted to the District. He said the employment services agency “failed to properly review” that documentation when it was turned over in 2019.

Unique Morris-Hughes, the agency’s director, wrote in an October letter to the District’s chief financial officer, that her office had “conducted a compliance review” and concluded that the Line had met its hiring requirement.

Morris-Hughes also wrote that her agency, guided by a “legal opinion” from the attorney general’s office, had concluded that the hotel had met the requirement of reserving all apprenticeships for D.C. residents “because no District resident who requested an apprenticeship was turned away.”

A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office declined to comment, citing attorney-client privilege.

Of the project’s 31 apprenticeships, 14 went to District residents, according to the March audit. That total fell far short of what community leaders were expecting, said Bryan Weaver, a former advisory neighborhood commissioner who helped conceive the tax abatement legislation.

“They didn’t try to get people in the neighborhood, which was the whole idea behind it,” he said. “Everything about this was, how are we going to get local people jobs?”

Weaver was the first to question whether the developer had met the requirements of the tax abatement legislation, which the council passed a decade ago.

In 2019, the employment services agency recommended that the Sydell Group pay a $600,000 fine instead of losing the abatement. But Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) advised at the time that the legislation required strict adherence to the requirements.

At one point, the hotel created a website that included a list of what it said were

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Kaleigh Wilday Fund Supports Youth, Recreation, Ellicottville and Cuba-Rushford with 2020 Grants

Ellicottville is a place beloved by the Wilday family.

It is also a place that was important to young Kaleigh Wilday during her life.

The Wildays are avid skiers and outdoor adventurers and spend much of their time during the winter months in Ellicottville, and according to Skip Wilday and Greta Wilday, that time spent in Ellicottville has led to deep relationships that have lasted over the years.

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When Kaleigh Wilday tragically passed away in 2002, support for the fund that Skip and Greta established to honor the legacy of their daughter, the Kaleigh Wilday Endowment Fund at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation, came from long and far, but a significant part of that support, then and now, came from Ellicottville, said Skip Wilday.

In honor of that early and lasting support of the Ellicottville community, this year’s grant distributions from the Kaleigh Wilday Fund, made every year around Kaleigh’s birthday, Nov. 10, will provide support to community organizations that support recreation and youth, this year with an added focus on organizations in the Ellicottville community.

This year’s grants include: $1,000 for the Cuba-Rushford PTA, $1,000 for the Cuba-Rushford Central School Alaska Trip Fund (CRCS Outdoors), $1,000 for the youth programs at the Cuba Circulating Library, $2,000 for the Kaleigh Wilday Every Kid Deserves a Y Fund at the YMCA of the Twin Tiers and $500 to sponsor a Cattaraugus Gives prize for an organization that serves youth.

Additionally, the fund will make possible three new grants for organizations in Ellicottville: $1,000 for the Ellicottville Skate Park Fund, $1,000 for the Ellicottville/Great Valley Recreational Trail Fund and $200 to the Nannen Arboretum Society.

This year’s grants total $7,700.

The fund also supports two annual scholarships: the Kaleigh Wilday Scholar Athlete Award for a Cuba-Rushford Central School graduating senior who has played on a scholar-athlete team and an annual $1,000 scholarship for a Cuba-Rushford graduate attending Jamestown Community College.

For Skip and Greta Wilday, who recommend each year’s grant recipients, this year’s grants represent a very special tribute to the Ellicottville community.

“This felt like an important thing to do this year,” said Skip Wilday. “Ellicottville is an important place for us, of course, and it was a place where Kaleigh spent a lot of time.

“From the very first days of the fund, so much support came from Ellicottville that it feels only right to give back to causes that we know Kaleigh would have loved,” he added.

The Ellicottville/Great Valley Recreational Trail Fund at CRCF supports the efforts to build a recreational trail that will connect locations in Ellicottville and Great Valley. The first section of the trail was cleared in 2019.

The Ellicottville Skate Park Fund, also managed by CRCF, supports fundraising efforts to build and maintain a large, concrete skate park in Ellicottville. With the support of the Tony Hawk

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RI’s new $20-million COVID grants won’t help small hotels enough, tourism leaders say

Hotel, tourism and arts officials have until Monday, Nov. 9 to apply for new state grants from a $20-million pool set up to curb the closing of businesses and nonprofits struggling from the coronavirus, and government restrictions meant to stop the spread.

a vase of flowers sits in front of a window: The Graduate Providence, in the location of the former Providence Biltmore hotel, is closing its doors indefinitely due to the coronovavirus crisis. [The Providence Journal, file / Bob Breidenbach]

© Bob Breidenbach, The Providence Journal
The Graduate Providence, in the location of the former Providence Biltmore hotel, is closing its doors indefinitely due to the coronovavirus crisis. [The Providence Journal, file / Bob Breidenbach]

But some say the $20 million is too little to seriously help Rhode Island’s multibillion-dollar travel and tourism industry.

Others say one part of the program that offers up to $1-million grants favors big hotels and leaves out smaller lodgings.

“It’s a start. Nothing’s perfect,” said Dale Venturini, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Hospitality Association. ”It’s the first time hotels will get a shot at getting some money.”

House Minority Leader Blake Filippi, R-Block Island, is critical of some of the grants available to larger hotels.

“There are few, if any, small business hotels that have 200 rooms,” he said, referring to one requirement. “The program is clearly a state bailout to large out-of-state corporate interests, not Rhode Islanders. This program should be expanded to all hotel owners, regardless of size.“

Evan Smith, president and CEO of Discover Newport, a nonprofit that promotes Newport and surrounding towns, said many potential grant applicants have questions that he hoped state officials would answer.

He added, “Travel and tourism is a multibillion-dollar industry. Thanks for the program, but $20 million doesn’t solve a billion-dollar problem.”

He also said if other sectors of the economy, such as manufacturing or health care, were suffering similar losses, the state would put down a lot more to solve the crisis.

Matt Sheaff, director of communications at the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, said that as with all COVID-era programs, the state will explore additional support, especially if there is a new round of federal stimulus funding.

Rhode Island’s leisure and hospitality industry has been hard-hit since the outbreak of the virus in March, and after governments here and across the country imposed restrictions on travel, gatherings and business. 

Since the spring, a typical hotel in Rhode Island has lost 85 percent of its revenue, Farouk Rajab, chairman of the Rhode Island Hospitality Association, told The Providence Journal. He said half the hotels in Rhode Island will close by the middle of next year without “substantial” state and federal aid.

Thousands of workers have been affected.

Jobs in accommodation and food services are down 12,100 from peak employment of 53,000 in February, according to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training. Jobs in arts and entertainment are off 2,300 since the peak of 8,200 in February. 

In a statement, Randall Rosenbaum, executive director of the RI State Council for the Arts, said, “During the pandemic, the arts sector literally ground to a halt. Theaters and concert halls and museums were shuttered and artists and cultural workers lost

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Grant’s Getaways: Visiting Wildwood Recreation Area

You’ll want to bring your camera to capture the steady stream of color along the Salmon River that flows through the BLM’s Wildwood Recreation Area near Welches.

PORTLAND, Ore — Just in time for the weekend that finds most of us preparing to Fall Back – Grant’s Getaway offers an adventure at a place to enjoy hiking trails framed by crimson-colored fall leaves, plus a riverway chock full of fall spawning salmon, and it’s all within easy reach of Portland.

You’ll want to bring your camera to capture the steady stream of color along the Salmon River that flows through the BLM’s Wildwood Recreation Area near Welches, Oregon.

It’s a sprawling site that may find you wondering: “How is it I’ve never heard of this place before?”

After all, the Salmon River is born from glaciers atop Mount Hood and it is Oregon’s last undammed river that flows unhindered from the mountains to the sea.

The Salmon River cuts a beeline through more than 500 acres of designated public recreation land at Wildwood.

Adam Milnor said that most people are in a big hurry to reach Mount Hood or Central Oregon and overlook Wildwood.

“Mt Hood beckons to everyone who lives in the Portland area and that’s understandable,” said Milnor. “It’s a popular summertime draw, but not so much this time of year. A great place for families to introduce their children to the outdoors with a rushing river, salmon and fantastic trees in a beautiful forest.”

The trails that wind through Wildwood are marvelous opportunities to explore the parkland.

The Wildwood Wetlands Trail is a one-mile loop of gravel and paved foot-paths plus more than 1,000 feet of elevated boardwalk that gives you access to the heart of a vast wetland area where many different wildlife species live.

Observation decks extend into the wetland at several locations and allow closer inspection.

The habitat is wild and natural so don’t be surprised while hiking the boardwalk if you see blue herons, mallards, teals, turtles or any number of small songbirds.

Pay special attention to the many interpretive signs that describe the wetland habitat and the critters that live here.

“A wetland eco-system is something you have to really see up close to get really fascinated with it,” noted Milnor. “Building this structure really allows you to get up close and personal to it in a way that you wouldn’t otherwise.”

There are more than 1,000 feet to the boardwalk on the Wildwood Wetlands Trail that was built four feet off the ground to keep hiker’s feet dry and limit access onto the sensitive wetlands.

Beginning in mid-October, the boardwalk area explodes to life with a colorful show of brilliant reds, oranges and yellows from vine maple, big leaf maple trees and alder trees.

The Cascade Streamwatch Trail is a barrier-free and paved, three-quarter-mile trail adjacent to the Wild and Scenic Salmon River. Interpretive displays describe points of interest.

The most remarkable highlight of this trail is

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Union County Provides Open Space Grants for Recreation, Trees

This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that grants have been awarded to 19 municipalities for improvements to recreation resources for children, through the Kid’s Recreation Trust Fund. In addition, 14 municipalities were awarded matching grants for planting new trees through the Greening Union County program. Both grant programs are funded through the Union County Open Space, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.

“Since first established in 2000, the Open Space Trust Fund has enabled Union County residents of all ages to enjoy continued improvements in public recreation resources and local treescapes, in addition to historic preservation projects,” said Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella. “The Freeholder Board is very proud to carry on this mission as the Trust Fund attains its 20th year of service to the public.”

The Open Space Trust Fund was established by popular referendum in 2000, with an initial focus on preserving open space and improving the Union County park system. In 2004 the mission expanded to include annual matching grants to municipalities for improving local children’s recreation resources, and matching grants to encourage municipalities to plant new trees.

Since its inception in 2004, the Kids Recreation Trust Fund has provided local communities with almost $18.7 million in funding.

The following municipalities received grants from the 2020 round of the Kids Recreation Trust Fund:

  • Berkeley Heights: $50,000 to install new play area at the new municipal complex 29 Park Avenue, and to resurface tennis courts and bleacher pad at Columbia Middle School Softball field.. As part of the Columbia project, PAL will add gates to dugout fencing.
  • Clark: $16,029 for improvements to the Nelson and Dolan Girls Softball fields and facilities, and for replacing the flooring the Senior Fitness Center.
  • Cranford: $65,000 for renovation of indoor tennis court, upgrades to the Memorial and Centennial Avenue Pool, and resurfacing of basketball courts at the Adams, Buchanan, and Johnson parks.
  • Elizabeth: $115,000 for ADA compliant improvements to the Kellogg Park playground.
  • Fanwood: $40,000 for Master Plans to improve Forest Road Park.
  • Garwood: $3,362 for a deep clean of the turf field at the Garwood Sports and Recreation Complex, and for the purchase of field hockey goals.
  • Kenilworth: $75,000 for removal and remediation of asbestos tile in the recreation building, and for removal of tennis courts.
  • Linden: $70,000 for reconstruction of the tennis courts at Dr. Martin Luther King Park.
  • Mountainside: $30,000 for upgrades to playground, and renovations to the Deerfield softball and baseball Fields.
  • New Providence: $40,000 for modifications to the walking path surrounding the Recreational Complex
  • Plainfield: $90,000 for the installation of new lighting at the basketball courts in Rushmore Park.
  • Rahway: $25,645 for milling, resurfacing, color coating, relining, and adding ADA access to the basketball court at Howard Field.
  • Roselle: $75,000 for Phase II of improvements at Grove Street Park, with new toddler playground that meets State of New Jersey safety requirements.
  • Roselle Park: $50,000for
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