The Vision Iowa board Wednesday approved grants for eight community projects around the state, awarding a total of more than a million dollars. Board member Marvin Berenstein questioned whether it’s fair to give out money before reviewing twenty more applications that are still pending. He says some of the projects haven’t been “scored” yet, one in Cedar Rapids has been deferred, and he doesn’t want to give away all the money. But board member Mary Ellen Chamberlain of Davenport said it would be unfair to hold up projects while they review other, newer applications that have come in. Chamberlain says the eight communities chosen already raised their matching funds. They’re waiting for Vision Iowa to become “the last dollar in” so they can take advantage of the construction season underway now, and Chamberlin says waiting to see if the next 20 meet criteria before awarding any money isn’t fair to those who successfully applied because they knew what the board wants. Cedar Rapids, which lost a Vision Iowa award after voters rejected a bond issue to help pay for it, will try again, and Vision Iowa chair Michael Gartner says they’ll file an amended application, changing details of the project and the amount of money they request, and he’s told them the board would welcome it. Cedar Rapids voters would have to give their approval to the amended river development project. With this week’s vote, Vision Iowa gives more than a million dollars to eight community projects, leaving less than five-million in its CAT fund, the Community Attraction and Tourism program, and seven and-a-half still in the Vision Iowa fund for larger, more expensive projects.
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