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City reapplies for a ‘safe routes’ grant

The city of Perham is making another attempt to secure grant funding for some Safe Routes to School improvements.

After a grant application submitted last year failed to produce funding, city councilors agreed at a meeting Monday to repackage the application and try again this year.

The grant application requests funding from two possible sources: Safe Routes to School (SRTS) and Transportation Alternatives Projects (TAP).

The SRTS grant would cover 80 percent of the total project cost, while the TAP grant would cover 80 percent of the total construction cost.

Remaining costs would be split between the city and the Perham-Dent School District. Otter Tail County is also involved, acting as the project’s ‘sponsor.’

The proposed plan calls for pedestrian safety improvements near Perham’s public schools and community center. Sidewalks would be added to stretches of 3rd Ave. SW and 9th St. SW; a raised crosswalk would be added across 2nd Ave. SW, outside the elementary school; a one-way bus exit would be added between the elementary and middle schools; and a bike path would be constructed from the schools to 9th St. SW.

In all, the improvements would cost about $270,000. If the city is awarded a SRTS grant, the grant will cover all but $54,000 of that cost, which would be split between the city and the school district. The TAP grant would cover all but $83,000.

The improvements are based on recommendations made in Perham’s Safe Routes to School Plan. The plan was put together after a nine-month-long information-gathering and planning process that involved city and school leaders, and was headed up by West Central Initiative.

“We thought the project has a lot of merit,” said City Manager Kelcey Klemm of why councilors and the school district decided to reapply for grant money. “It would improve safety and accessibility for students.”

If grant funding is awarded (the city should receive notification within the next few months), the improvements would be implemented in 2015.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Perham Focus more than five years ago, and has since worn many hats as writer, editor and page designer. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their one-year-old son, Simon, and their yellow lab, Louisa. 

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