-By Cary Shuman
Town grants administrator Peter Lombardi told the Town Council Tuesday night that the town has been able to secure $684,000 in grants since he began in his part-time position last July.
Lombardi made his presentation during the Councilâ€™s spring financial forum held at the Cummings School.
The reaction to Lombardiâ€™s response to the question posed by Councilor Russell Sanford about how much grant money he had brought in to the town could be summed up with the words: â€œGee, thatâ€™s a lot of grant funds,â€ – or at least thatâ€™s the reaction we can draw from the facial expressions of Councilor-at-Large Larry Powers and others who seemed to be visibly pleased by the large amount.
Police Chief Terence Delehanty had set the stage for Lombardiâ€™s presentation by telling the Council that, â€œOver the next year with the assistance of Peter Lombardi of the grant office, weâ€™re looking for ways to increase the number of [police] officers without increasing the burden to the taxpayers.
â€œPeter has been a valuable asset to me â€“ to have a police officer write the grants and have to run out on a call and do a follow-up report, and then do that grant â€“ itâ€™s just not efficient,â€ said Delehanty. â€œWith Peter, heâ€™s there for us to rely on, to make sure weâ€™re on the ball and make sure that all our reports are in and our grant application is done properly.â€
Town Manager James McKenna praised Lombardi while introducing him for his presentation to the Council.
â€œWhat I hope to do is to be able to compensate this guy in the future because he does a lot of work for us on his own dime,â€ said McKenna.
The manager added that Lombardiâ€™s salary for his 25-hour position is paid through a stipend from the North Shore Home Consortium, a board on which Lombardi is the town representative.
â€œItâ€™s only fair to try to get a little funding back so that Peter can continue to bring us home that bacon that heâ€™s doing such a wonderful job at doing,â€ said McKenna. â€œHaving a grant officer here consistently applying for all the resources that are out there and bringing the discipline to that effort is crucial for us to be able to optimize all the opportunities that are out there for this town.â€
Lombardi said the grants have been used for such projects as the town hall boiler/energy saving project, municipal planning, and bicycle racks. He said that the town is waiting word on an additional $1 million in grants for applications that have been filed for such agencies and projects as the Police Department, the E.B. Newton School (renovations), Larsen Rink (energy-efficient ceiling), and Walk Winthrop.
Lombardi, a graduate of St. Johnâ€™s Prep (Danvers) and the University of Vermont, will receive a Masterâ€™s Degree in Public Administration from Suffolk University in May.
Lombardi said in an interview following his presentation that some federal grant applications can be 30-50 pages in length. There is substantial grant money available, but the process is highly competitive for each grant.
â€œSeeking grants is a matter of doing a lot of research and networking with different communities on a regional and state level and accessing the information that way,â€ said Lombardi.
Asked if he would consider a full-time position as Winthropâ€™s grant administrator if the opportunity were offered to him, Lombardi replied unhesitatingly, â€œabsolutely.â€