In 2021, the Town of Normal was awarded more than $2.79 million in grants to improve the community through resurfacing and trail enhancements, educational programs, citizen safety and more.
“The entire Town benefits from these grants ... which wouldn’t be possible without Town staff who dedicate themselves to stretching dollars,” said Mayor Chris Koos. “Employees research and apply for grants, following up with necessary documentation to ensure dollars are used wisely. The entire community and each and every resident benefit from this time well-spent.”
Notably, Town staff secured 100% funding for the Gregory Street Trail extension between Adelaide Street and Parkside Road. This extension will provide a safe link between neighborhoods on the west side of Normal, Maxwell Park, the Collegiate Branch of the Constitution Trail and the Illinois State University campus. All told, nearly $2 million ($1.955 million) of the 2021 monies secured will be used for roadway and trail enhancements.
$800,000 supports learning, education and employment
The Children’s Discovery Museum (CDM) and the Normal Theater secured more than $675,000 to recoup funds lost because of the pandemic and to enhance programming for children and families in our community.
“Young learners in our community haven’t experienced a normal school year for three academic years in a row,” said Cultural Arts Director Beth Whisman. “The pandemic has really taken a toll. Nationwide studies indicate children have fallen behind academically and developmentally. This can create a ripple effect over a child’s lifetime, limiting options for continuing education and leaving them earning less over their lifetime. These funds keep our doors open and our staff available to local families and schools who need early childhood support.”
Informal learning environments like the CDM have been called on by teachers and families to provide science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) programs to supplement formal learning. The Normal Public Library procured more than $125,000 in grants to benefit residents, some of which will be used to provide skill-enhancing education for successful post-pandemic employment.
Additional monies not listed in the table “Summary of Grants Awarded to the Town of Normal in 2021” include the $10.8 million the Town of Normal will receive over the course of two years through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The Normal Town Council will consider potential uses for these monies at a Dec. 6 work session.
Also not included in the table, but of note is $22.25 million in additional funding secured for the completion of the Normal Uptown Connector Underpass Project. This includes a $13 million BUILD grant (Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development) which was awarded to the Town for this project in 2019. Other federal and state funding was finalized this year.
These grant awards represent nearly 93% of the total $23.9 million underpass project funding. The Town of Normal will invest $1.69 million, or about 7% of the total cost, into this project. This effort will provide access beneath the Union Pacific Railroad and connect Uptown North and Uptown South, ultimately providing a safer passage for Amtrak passengers and Constitution Trail users, while also promoting development in the area.
And, in cooperation with the City of Bloomington and the McLean County Regional Planning Commission, the Town of Normal was part of the group which was awarded a $100,000 RAISE Grant, which will fund a safety study of Veteran’s Parkway.
“Grant dollars such as these could go to any community across the nation,” explained Koos. “I’m proud Town staff works to bring these dollars back to Normal to enhance our community and provide for residents.”
Summary of Grants Awarded to the Town of Normal in 2021