AURORA | Business owners along the Colfax corridor and elsewhere in Aurora could soon get help keeping their property safe, after the city council voted Monday to move forward a grant program backed by $3 million in federal aid.
Nonprofits and community organizations are also eligible to apply for the American Rescue Plan Act funds, which include $500,000 earmarked specifically for properties on Colfax between Yosemite Street and Peoria Avenue. Organizations can apply for up to $10,000 each in improvements.
Councilmember Curtis Gardner sponsored the project, which was moved out of study session in December. On Monday, it returned for a vote, with added language that extended the grants to non-business entities and excluded businesses with more than 500 employees.
“That will exclude some of the largest employers in Aurora,” he said. “However, it will still allow some of the smaller franchisees and national chains to participate, if possible.”
Councilmember Francoise Bergan, Danielle Jurinsky and Dustin Zvonek thanked Gardner for bringing the grant program forward, mentioning the endorsements of business owners on East Colfax Ave. specifically.
“I don’t care if it’s security cameras, bars on their windows, I don’t care what it is,” Jurinsky said regarding what business owners might seek grant funding for. “This is a fantastic proposal. … What I want to see from city staff is that you get this money out as fast as possible.”
After she was told that the funds would be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and expire in June 2023, councilmember Crystal Murillo said she was concerned about the city giving new and established businesses an equal shot at the money.
“I’m feeling a little bit torn,” she said. “I’m just concerned that’s not going to give equity to folks who heard about it last.”
“I do have some concerns that all we’re really going to be paying for at the end is security cameras. I’ve heard rumors that people want to hire private security … and that’s something that I definitely don’t want to see,” she added. “We’re going to have to monitor from a staff perspective what the outcomes look like, because to me that’s not really providing safety.”
Zvonek echoed Murillo’s desire to spread the word widely about the available funds, and Jurinsky suggested that a notification be sent to all businesses licensed through the city.
Councilmember Alison Coombs also said she was worried about the program exhausting more of the city’s limited ARPA dollars.
“We’re just kind of chipping away at what we have available,” she warned.
Regardless, council members voted unanimously in support of the grant program.