At a special meeting Tuesday, the Crescent City Council voted unanimously to reallocate already-granted money that was to be used for Rural Health Services and seek grant money for a project to keep the city from flooding during winter storms.
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is a federally funded program through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“The principle objective of CDBG is the development of viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for persons of low-and moderate-income,” according to staff reports. “On August 21, 2017, the City Council voted not to contract with RHS for those services and to hold a public hearing to select alternate public service programs.”
At the Aug. 21 council meeting, City Finance Director Linda Leaver said the city reached out to many agencies to inform them of CDBG opportunities and received 12 proposals.
The council unanimously reallocated already-received 2016 CDBG money to the Community Food Council. The $316,280 allocation gave $239,147 to the Community Food Council, along with $77,133 for the Literacy Program.
Leaver said the City’s CDBG consultant had spoken with officials at Housing and Urban Development, which oversees CDBG funding, and was told CDBG is not going to want to fund food banks from this point forward.
“They’re looking for projects where you fund the project and the person no longer needs service, she said. She said staff spoke with the Community Food Council, informing them of the news that while they may be funded through 2106 moneys, it may not be possible after that, depending on state and federal regulations. It was also determined that other submissions, such as youth and school programs, would not be a good fit for CDBG funding.
A new application
Leaver noted the maximum 2017 grant allowance has been increased from $2 million to $5 million. However, the number of projects to be funded is to be reduced, she said, meaning “we can do fewer projects but for more money.”
One qualifying project, as outlined by City Public Works Director Erik Wier on Aug. 21 would improve storm drainage, control winter flooding and by proxy, result in new pavement on much of Front Street.
According to Wier, yearly rainstorms flood many areas of the city and require work by all city agencies. The flooding is so predictable, he noted, that public works, police and fire officials meet before storms to allocate resources. Wier showed a collection of photos of flooded home, yards, streets and buildings.
Wier said the reason for the yearly flooding is that much of the city’s stormwater is conveyed by a single collector line at the end of K Street. He said public works proposes to make drainage improvements by adding two new 48-inch pipes along Front Street to improve the outflow before it backs up and floods. Other improvements would be made along 5th Street, and along C Street to Front Street to increase capacities.
“We’re not going to do any work down in the commercial area where we have the downtown flooding,” he said. “What we’re doing is taking the pressure off of it.”
Wier said the project would involve digging up the centerline of Front Street’s north half, meaning it would essentially have to be reconstructed and repaved.
The total project cost is estimated at just under $4.1 million.
The council unanimously approved the application for $5 million in grant funding of the $4.1 million Storm drain Project, along with $243,982 for Code Enforcement, $221,134 for the Rape Crisis Team, $465,116 for the Workforce Center.
Leaver said city staff will need to work with CDBG staff to reallocate the funding and will have to submit the 2017 application by Dec. 1.
Reach Tony Reed at email@example.com