City efforts to replace its antique, crumbling water and sewer pipes received a $250,000 boost Tuesday from a Texas Department of Agriculture grant.

That money, part of a Community Development Block Grant, will match $250,000 the city already allocated to rebuild century-old water, sewer, and drainage pipes in the downtown area.

The city has paid an engineering firm $30,000 to assess how to move the project forward. Once that assessment is done, city public works crews will start replacing pipes.

No timeline for the project has been set, but the entire project will take up to ten years – and millions of more dollars – to complete, Palestine Economic Development Corporation Director Gayle Cooper said Tuesday.

PEDC applied for the competitive grant last year.

“I'm grateful the Texas Department of Agriculture was able to join our efforts to help Palestine grow,” Mayor Steve Presley told the Herald-Press Tuesday.

The project will provide downtown building owners with more remodeling options, Presley said, after pipes are replaced and roads and sidewalks subsequently repaired. The mayor hopes those improvements will help draw small “mom and pop” businesses downtown.

“Downtown is perfect for small businesses,” Presley said. “The rent is cheaper than on the Loop. Investors will see that the city of Palestine is as committed as they to investing in downtown.”