(This story has been updated to clarify details about the funding of the Warm Up Warrenton grants.)
The Northern Piedmont Community Foundation last month approved a $18,900 grant to Miller Carpets to produce customized outdoor carpeting for the 25 parklets along Main Street. The funds were part of $200,000 in federal Cares Act funding that the town of Warrenton asked the NPCF to distribute. (This funding must be distributed through a non-profit agency. The NPCF reviewed the applications and decided on the funding; no town of Warrenton taxpayer money is used for the grants.)
With the funding, Ike Miller, the store owner, plans to “roll out” the weatherproof carpeting over the coming weeks. The project, however, is dependent on supply chains that have experienced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Miller, who recently moved Miller Carpets to Main Street, came up with the idea “as a way for us and the town to say thank you to businesses.”
The funding was provided through the Warm-up Warrenton Small Business Grant program, which was established earlier this year to provide financial assistance to businesses impacted by the pandemic. To date, the Warm-up Warrenton initiative has handed out 28 grants, totaling $193,015, according to Michael Potter, Warrenton Emergency Services manager. The grant application is currently closed.
Several Warrenton businesses applied for warm-up grants earlier this year to pay for equipment or alterations that allowed them to adapt to social-distancing protocols, said Potter. Warrenton Center Cleaners, for example, used grant money to install a drop box where customers could pick up and drop off their dry cleaning. Drum & Strum Music Center used their grant to purchase equipment that allowed them to offer lessons virtually.
The town is also considering whether to temporarily remove the parklets this winter, said Potter, citing potential difficulties with snow removal as one reason. They would be reinstalled the following spring, depending on what the Warrenton Town Council decides.