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County closing books on repairs

The public will have a chance to speak at the Board of Supervisors meeting this morning about two local projects that the county is looking to close the books on.

The public hearing for the projects, which include repairs to Crescent City Harbor and Redwood Cove Senior Apartments, is the final phase in a public participation process that’s required for Community Development Block Grant-funded endeavors.

“This is the last step in the citizen participation process of the grants,” said Toni Self, administrative analyst for the county who handles all the CDBG grants. 

 

The CDBG program requires public participation, which in regard to these projects took the form of three citizen participation meetings, Self said — one during the design phase, one before the grant application and the public hearing today.

“They’re allowed input throughout the entire process,” she said. 

The two projects trace back to July 2009 for the harbor repairs, when a $5 million CDBG grant was awarded for the port’s 2006 tsunami repairs, and May 2013 for Redwood Cove Apartments, when a program income fund waiver was granted to use $70,000 to assist with “significant structural damage,” according to county documents.

For the harbor, which was deemed blighted after the 2006 tsunami damaged floating docks there, the grant eventually went toward a larger $54 million reconstruction of the inner boat basin that was necessary after the 2011 tsunami.

County supervisors declared the blight eliminated in February, and a subsequent ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the reconstruction project was held in March.

“The boat basin has been repaired and restored to a safe and healthy place for the general public,” the county staff report reads.

As for the apartments, those renovations last year came as the result of significant structural damage to the elevator tower of the facility, as well as second and third story support structures surrounding the tower, all of which had fallen into severe disrepair due to weather and water damage. 

“The national objective for this project has been met with the facility being available to low/moderate income residents over the age of 62,” the staff report reads. “Improvements have been completed with a favorable result.”

Charlaine Mazzei, executive director of the Del Norte Senior Center and the Redwood Cove Community Center, agreed with the report’s findings and said that the apartments now have vacancies to be filled.

“We’re really, really glad that we got those repairs done,” Mazzei said, adding that repair work had been going on since before she began as executive director in 2011, but it turned out to be more expensive than anticipated. “We were very happy that the county was willing to help.”

Alongside the public hearing for those projects, county staff is also using the public hearing as a chance to present a change in state CDBG Program Income rules to supervisors.

The new rules, which went into effect on July 1, say that Program Income must be used “prior to requesting a drawdown of grant funds from any contract.”

“CDBG basically was slapped on the hands by the feds for not properly monitoring Program Income,” Self said. “Program Income now has to be used prior to drawing down of any grant funds.

Program Income is money received by the grantee, in this case the county, that is directly generated by a grant-supported activity or project.

“Say, for instance, we have a $250,000 public service grant and we service the Senior Nutrition Center,” Self explained. “We receive monthly statements from the Senior Center drawing down that $250,000. So if we had $20,000 of Program Income on hand, we’d have to use our Program Income prior to being able to draw down from the grant.”

The new rules don’t affect either the harbor or the apartment repairs, since those projects have been completed and their funds spent, Self said, but they do affect current  county CDBG programs that involve the Del Norte Reads literacy program, CASA and the Del Norte Senior Center.

“When I receive statements from either the Senior Center, CASA or Del Norte Reads, that program income will have to be utilized prior to being able to draw down from the rest of the (2012–2013) grant,” Self said, adding that there’s $50,000–$60,000 in the Program Income fund. “If you have any program income on hand, you have to utilize it first.”

The City of Crescent City in June also grappled with the new rules when it sought quick state approval for Program Income eligible projects so a potential $2 million CDBG grant would not be delayed. That money, which will be awarded this month if the city gets the grant, will go toward a new sewer project on B Street.

The Board of Supervisors meets at 10 a.m. today in the Flynn Center, 981 H St., Crescent City.

Reach Aaron West at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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