Applications for a chunk of the $3 million open May 16. Up to $10,000 can be granted per applicant to go towards changes to cameras, lights, doors and more.
AURORA, Colo. — If you step inside Casa Soccer, soccer jerseys of clubs from across the world fill the space, while cleats and other gear fill the shelves.
The business, a longtime staple on Colfax Avenue in Aurora, has been embedded in both the soccer and small business communities.
“Lot of Latinos here lot of African guys and they play – they love soccer,” owner Omar Castillo said.
While the name will soon undergo a change and be called Meta Soccer, the location will stay the same, right where they’ve been for the last decade.
But the family owned-and-operated business has seen its fair share of break-ins in recent years.
“Many people, drunk people most, they come in and break the windows, get in, try to get something, they [leave].” Castillo said. “Sometimes when we are in business right now, they [come] in, they go around, grab stuff and run. We don’t have the time to follow him to see what happens, you know?”
Last month, Castillo said someone took a rock and smashed in one of the windows of his store, which cost $800 of his own money.
Despite having a total of 12 cameras inside and outside of the store, he says it isn’t solving the problems.
It’s why he says he’s planning to apply for a new grant program from the City of Aurora that will fund security upgrades for small businesses, nonprofits and community groups.
“We need it, you know?” he said. “To get more safety for my daughters because you know this is a family business.”
The Safety and Security Grant Program is $3 million of funds received from the American Rescue Plan Act, and eligible businesses, nonprofits and community groups go through an application process to receive it.
Up to $10,000 worth of security upgrades would be funded per applicant that is approved.
$500,000 of the total money in the grant program is set aside for eligible applicants located along Colfax Avenue between Yosemite Street and Peoria Avenue and between 14th and 16th avenues, according to a release.
The application period opens May 16 at 8 a.m. and stays open until June 30, 2023, or when the funds run out. Click here to apply once the application period is open.
“Funds allocated to eligible applicants may be used to make physical changes related to lighting, alarms, cameras, windows, entrance doors and mirrors, allowing law enforcement to more efficiently and effectively respond to public safety issues,” a release from the city explained. “The installation work will be awarded to city-approved, local contractors that can answer a call to service that has been posted.”
Applicants will go through a Safety and Security Assessment with the Aurora Police Department to approve the changes.
Ineligible businesses include “Marijuana (medical and recreational), businesses offering adult services or products, multi-level marketing/pyramid, real estate investment firms, speculation-based businesses, businesses engaged in any illegal activities, gambling, and businesses/nonprofits primarily engaged in political or lobbying activities,” according to an FAQ from the city.
Castillo said he hopes for more professional cameras to be installed in order to help detect the face of a thief that may break in, to help police with the investigation.
He also hopes for more lights in the parking lot, in order to sway potential thieves away from his store.
“To be honest, it’s not only me, you go and ask my neighbors around here, they want to do the same,” he said.
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