City of Norfolk Receives $1.125 Million Grant

The City of Norfolk announced the receipt of a $1.125 million Civic and Community Center Financing Fund (CCCFF) grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) to support the further enhancement of Norfolk’s downtown and riverfront areas. This grant, in conjunction with matching funds, will fuel a series of projects aimed at improving pedestrian safety through enhanced lighting, creating navigational signage, fostering connectivity, enhancing outdoor recreation, and creating safe, walkable spaces for residents and visitors alike.

Working hand in hand, the City of Norfolk, River Point Creative District (RPCD), and downtown stakeholders explored a variety of activities and initiatives to present to the DED for consideration. The implementation activities include the planning and implementation of an over-the-street downtown district sign, along with enhanced lighting initiatives that focus on alleyway lighting, enhanced lighting at intersections along Norfolk Avenue, and corridor lighting along walkways and trails leading to the river.

The alleyway lighting component will infuse vibrant, colorful lighting along several blocks in alleyways adjacent to the main thoroughfare of the district. This not only creates a positive and enjoyable atmosphere but also enhances connectivity to parking lots within the district, ensuring ease of access for all. Meanwhile, enhanced lighting at intersections along Norfolk Avenue will not only illuminate the main corridor but also enhance safety, particularly in areas with bustling nightlife establishments.

“The River Point Creative District's advisory committee is excited to launch our work in downtown Norfolk with this amazing project. The improvements made possible by this grant will continue to push our community to the forefront of this statewide creative district initiative,” said Kara Weander-Gaster, Director of the River Point Creative District. “We appreciate the cooperative effort between the Nebraska Arts Council’s and DED to recognize and promote the important role the arts play in economic development efforts. Our success is largely due to our collaborative partners, city officials, and city staff who have worked alongside us in these efforts.”

These enhancements are not merely aesthetic; they are integral to fostering connectivity between the downtown district and the riverfront redevelopment project. By weaving together elements such as enhanced lighting, walkways, playgrounds, new restrooms, and a sports court complete with an ice-skating rink, this project aims to create a seamless link between urban amenities and natural landscapes.

"We are tremendously grateful for the support of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development in funding this transformative project," said Mayor Josh Moenning. “We’ve continually, and successfully, sought to leverage grant resources to initiate community betterment projects, and this is the latest example.  This assistance, awarded to us on a competitive basis, will make our public spaces safer and more inviting, help guide motorists to accessible public parking, and further enhance a lively and active parks and downtown environment.”

It is noteworthy that the CCCFF grant funds were specifically designated for creative districts for the 2024 funding year, underscoring the innovative and collaborative spirit of the projects proposed. Moreover, to meet the matching fund requirement, the City strategically utilized existing projects associated with the Riverfront Development project, leveraging existing funding to maximize project goals.