Madison’s Board of Public Works on Monday gave its blessing to the largest quarterly grant allocation in the history of the city’s Preservation and Community Enhancement Grant (PACE) program.

The Board followed through on weeks of applications and two days of scrutiny by the PACE Review Board by approving 18 applications for more than $208,000 in repairs and renovations with a focus on salvaging dilapidated and dangerous structures in three targeted neighborhoods.

In the past, the PACE program granted funds of up to $7,500 to help property owners and investors make exterior improvements to structures in the downtown historic district but the program was expanded earlier this year to allocate up to $25,000 to assist and motivate property owners to go even further and tackle dilapidated and dangerous structures.

Seven such properties were included in Monday’s first round of the expanded program.

“I’m thrilled with the work that is going to be done on Walnut Street,” Public Works board member Karl Eaglin said. “They’ve been waiting for someone to invest and for the city to invest with them.”

Mayor Bob Courtney, who championed the proposal when he ran for office last fall, said the first dangerous and dilapidated properties approved on Walnut are just part of big improvements to that neighborhood, which also has a major grant proposal in the works for a new city park to be developed there. However, he noted that the projects approved Monday are from across the city and he hopes the program only continues to grow.

“It’s all across the city,” Courtney said. “It’s not just Main Street but it’s side streets, too.”

Courtney noted that the city’s Preservation Office and City Planner-Preservation Coordinator Nicole Schell have worked hard on the project as did the Historic District Board Of Review. He said efforts have been made to streamline the application process and that additional changes could be forthcoming to make the process even easier.

The grants, which all require a 50/50 match, in many cases are still only a fraction of what some of projects will cost to complete. Courtney said based on the applications, the city’s $208,000 investment will be met by another $500,000 investment by the property owners and investors in the current round and that the benefits to property values and public safety in the neighborhoods make the projects worth even more to the city.

Projects receiving grants must be completed within one calendar year so the impact will be seen and felt sooner rather than later, especially for some properties that have sat decaying for decades after being gutted by fire of left to rot by abandonment.

In other business, the Board of Public Works approved a $19,110 bid by Pittsburgh Tanks and Tower Group to conduct detailed inspections of all six of the city’s water tanks prior to the end of the year.

Madison Utilities Manager Brian Jackson said the inspection most likely will be completed sooner but that each tank must be drained prior to being checked by workers. Jackson said even with the draining of tanks, Madison water customers should not experience any loss of service or pressure during the project.

The tank inspection, the city’s first in more than a decade, is the first stage in an overall project to make repairs and improvements to any deficiencies found during the inspections. Jackson said those improvements would most likely require a “significant capital investment” and maybe even financing to fund the work.

“Asset management is extremely critical,” said Courtney. “If we don’t have a management program in place we’re not going to have regular maintenance and that’s when you get hit with larger unexpected costs.”

The Board of Public Works held Monday’s meeting in the City Council chambers but with no audience present. Courtney noted that with the next stage of the state’s reopening plan set to begin Friday, the public could be allowed back into meetings by the Board’s next session on Monday, June 1.