October 22, 2004
When Maria Schutt heard about Chandler’s neighborhood matching grant program, she immediately knew what she had to do.
Just down the street from her Tremaine Park neighborhood are grassy medians in desperate need of trees, curbs and other landscaping.
Schutt got together with other neighbors who live near Elliot Road and Arizona Avenue, put together a grant proposal and submitted it to the city.
"We just want to make it more upscale instead of looking at a neglected area with missing trees and where people have cut through and made paths," Schutt said.
The matching grant program began four years ago, said Crystal Prentice, Chandler neighborhood programs administrator.
Every quarter, traditional neighborhoods and homeowners associations can apply for up to $5,000 in matching grants, Prentice said.
Over the years, neighborhoods have paved sidewalks and streets, done rock wall repairs, created entryway signs, added landscaping and improved lighting conditions, Prentice said. Last year, nine neighborhoods received grants.
Traditional neighborhoods, such as Tremaine Park, can match grants by volunteering a certain number of hours to a project, while HOAs must match 35 percent of the grant, Prentice said.
Once an application is received, it’s reviewed by a grant committee, a neighborhood advisory committee and, ultimately, the City Council, Prentice said. The process usually takes about six weeks.
Residents in the Tremaine Park neighborhood have donated dozens of hours toward their project by doing such things as taking measurements and writing up the grant proposal, Schutt said.
The whole neighborhood will rack up more volunteer hours the fun way on Oct. 30. Everyone in the area is invited to a Halloween party complete with a costume contest, cake walk and snacks.
"One of our goals is getting neighbors out so they can get to know each other and their celebration is one of the ways to do that," Prentice said. "We want neighborhoods to get organized so when issues come up, they can deal with them head-on."
Sherry Simon’s children Cory, 7, and Jordan, 4, will likely play at the party with Schutt’s children Jamie, 9, and Skyler, 8.
"I think the grant program is awesome," Simon said. "I didn’t realize there was money available for improvements, and I think if people realize it, they’d take advantage of it.
"Too many people think of the city or the bureaucracy as the enemy or the enforcer, but this program has a positive impact on people."