SNOW HILL – County officials agreed to seek grant funding for a variety of projects, ranging from wastewater infrastructure to internet connectivity, following discussion this week.
The Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday reviewed a list of potential projects and ranked their top priorities in order to seek Rural Maryland grant funding through the Tri-County Council.
“There’s a lot of great stuff in here,” Commissioner Josh Nordstrom said.
Melanie Pursel, director of the Worcester County Office of Tourism and Economic Development, advised the commissioners that through the Tri-County Council, the county could seek $3.2 million in Rural Maryland grant funding. She said the commissioners simply needed to rank and select which projects they wanted to pursue funding for.
While presented with a list of 16 potential projects, Nordstrom was quick to share his preferences. He said he wanted to seek funding for commercial harbor dredging, Main Street internet connectivity, an economic development study for Pocomoke, a Snow Hill bikeways projects and Lower Shore trail planning.
Commissioner Jim Bunting said he was appalled with Nordstrom’s recommendations.
“We have things on this list that affect health, safety and welfare,” he said.
Nordstrom said the funding was meant to be used for economic development, which the projects he’d supported addressed. He added that many of the projects were in the north end of the county, and he wanted to see funding used in the southern end of the county as well.
Commissioner Joe Mitrecic asked if the various projects tied to the Department of Environmental Programs would get done if they didn’t get grant funding.
Bob Mitchell, director of environmental programs, said they might not be accomplished otherwise. He pointed out public works projects were on the list too.
“These are necessary infrastructure improvements,” he said. “We have to come up with capacity. We can’t pass all the costs to the customers. They just can’t bear it.”
He said improving water and sewer infrastructure laid the groundwork for more commercial growth.
“This is for economic development,” he said, adding that the projects were in areas where growth would occur.
Staff noted that the county was seeking $3.2 million in grant funds and the projects Nordstrom proposed funding only totaled about half of that. The commissioners unanimously agreed to add a handful of the infrastructure projects to the priority list and pursue the $3.2 million funding opportunity. As approved, the list includes West Ocean City Commercial Harbor dredging, Worcester Main Street connectivity plan, Riddle Farm Wastewater Treatment Plan membrane replacement, Riddle Farm water tower rehabilitation, Riddle Farm sewer engineering, Ocean Pines-Greater Ocean Pines regional water and sewer engineering, Riddle-Mystic Harbour regional water engineering, Pocomoke economic development feasibility study, Snow Hill bikeways projects and Lower Shore trails infrastructure planning.