SKOWHEGAN — Greg and Lynette Salisbury said they liked the facade improvement grant program offered by the town to fix up the exterior of their downtown buildings so much that they will consider applying for another round this year to complete the work.

The $150,000 state grant program, if approved, will offer $10,000 to each successful applicant with a dollar-for-dollar match.

A public hearing on the grants, offered under the state 2015 Micro-Enterprise Assistance Program, is set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday as part of the regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen at the Town Office on Water Street.

The Salisburys styled the wooden exterior trim and paneling work at their Hilltop Antiques on Water Street to make new construction appear to be old fashioned in fitting with the nature of their business. They also completed work installing paneling above the entrance at another shop, Lynette’s Cards & Gift, using the facade program.

“It’s all new — the whole thing — I love how it came out,” Greg Salisbury said. “I like the program. I really want to do it again.”

Matt Dubois, co-owner of The Bankery — a former bank turned bakery on Water Street — said the grant program was used for improvements to the front of the building and to fix the original clock mounted outside the former bank.


“It was a success. We did some signage, some clock repair and we did some windows,” Dubois said. “We matched the grant because we did a lot of improvements when we bought the building. I think it’s a great way to stimulate and have business or building owners have the ability to spruce up their building.”

This year’s $150,000 grant program, the third round of facade grants since 2006, will allow any business located anywhere in the town of Skowhegan to apply. Previous facade grants were offered only to businesses and mixed commercial property within the downtown business district.

The catch this time is that those businesses outside of the downtown will have to qualify under the state’s “slum and blight” guidelines, said Economic and Community Development Director Jeff Hewett.

While “slum and blight” is an expression that could make a potential recipient wince, the designation is important to improve the overall appearance of a business, which in turn will attract customers, Hewett said.

“Slum and blight is a term that came out of the early HUD — U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — days,” Hewett. “It’s a deterioration of the area that has a detrimental impact on the businesses to expand and succeed. Applying for the grant means ‘I know I’ve got a problem — I want to make it better.'”

The town’s official slum and blight district is designated from High Street to the Kennebec River and across the first bridge to the Chapter 11 building on Island Avenue.


Hewett said Tuesday’s hearing is an official meeting required by the federal Community Development Block Grant program, which is administered through the state Office of Community Development. A written record of the hearing, including comments from the public, will be sent to the state as part of the town’s grant application process.

There also is a $150,000 required match for the grant if it is approved. The matching money would be paid into the program by project participants, not by town taxpayers.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to do a facade program townwide,” Hewett said. “Before that we had to come under the ‘slum and blight district’ that was done for the downtown 10 years ago. This time we can actually do a spot slum and blight on a building anywhere in town and make them eligible for the program.”

Spot designation for slum and blight is to be based on need for the replacement of windows, painting of doors and trim, new siding, new signage, awnings, health and efficiency, such as the need for an air lock at the entrance of a business.

For businesses outside the downtown to qualify for the maximum $10,000 in grant money, they must also be approved by state historic preservation rules, be current on their tax payments and ensure that wages are paid for the work done to their business according to federal wage guidelines.

“If it looks better, if it looks presentable, it’s easier to bring customers in,” Hewett said. “If we can help efficiency, we can reduce their costs. Plus it’s the comfort level of people using the businesses.”


All the applications for program funding must be in by June 28, providing the town is awarded the grant. Applications can be found on the town of Skowhegan web site.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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