Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

A $5 million Community Development Block Grant awarded to Crescent City last week will mean a large section of Front Street will get repaved and a second grant may finish the entire street.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, City Manager Eric Wier said the council chose which local projects should be included in the grant application. He said the grant was very competitive, but the city went for the full $5 million since it includes some much-needed projects.

“I believe it was Tuesday of last week when we got the phone call that Crescent City was awarded $5 million,” Wier said. “Definitely a huge win for the community as a whole. This is going to be quite beneficial in multiple areas.”

Where it will go

Wier said $221,134 will go to the North Coast Rape Crisis Team, which serves trauma survivors, provides emergency shelter, transportation, supplies, advocacy and support to victims. $93,000 was awarded for planning and technical assistance.

Code Enforcement will receive $243,982 for local abatement and the implementation of tracking software. Wier said the fund could be used in a revolving manner in the future, with abatement liens replenishing spent grant money.

Drainage, Front Street

The majority of the grant, just over $4 million, will go toward flood drainage improvements that will lead to the rebuilding of about half of Front Street.

Another $348,838 will be used for general administration, legal fees, and other costs.

Wier said drainage improvements will be installed on C to G streets to prevent flooding as has occurred in heavy storms. Showing photos of past flooding, Wier noted that flooded streets require assistance from police and the fire department, causing a strain on public resources.

Wier said the problems have occurred simply because the city’s aging stormwater infrastructure has reached its usable capacity.

Front Street vision

“Once we put in the storm drain, we have to rebuild a section of Front Street,” Wier said. “It’s the vehicular section between B Street and G Street that will need to be done as a result of this project. We’re also teaming up with the Elk Valley Rancheria to submit a build grant right now.” Wier said in a previous application, the city was going to seek funding to fix the entire length of Front Street. However, once the B Street to G Street work is done, the application can be scaled back to complete the remaining work on Front Street. He said that will make the next grant more competitive, lowering the price by about $3 million.

If awarded, the three-phase project will tie together timelines of the two grants, resulting in a new Front Street.

“We are very hopeful for the build grant application and very thankful for the CDBG award and what it’s going to allow us to do for the flooding of those neighborhoods and rebuilding that portion of Front Street,” Wier said, adding many city staff members worked together to create and submit the grant application.

Council members had few technical questions about the project. When asked for the timeline of the projects, Wier said CDBG funding can take time to process, and the additional complication of needing a coastal development permit from the California Coastal Commission.

“We’re hopeful for spring of next year, to be under construction,” he said, of the storm drain project.

Mayor Blake Inscore added the Front Street project could begin in 2020 if the build grant is successful.

“I know that’s hard for everybody to process that far out but when we’re talking about actually getting Front Street done, that’s just phenomenal,” he said, thanking former interim City Manager Mike Young and staff for their work and creativity.

“I can’t say enough about the partnership with Elk Valley and having them come to us and saying ‘how can we work together for the good of our community? You ask anybody here,” Inscore said, “what would be the number one project or something that ought to be fixed, we know what it is. Beyond Last Chance Grade, it’s Front Street. It’s been something that is seemingly undoable for so long, and to actually see a plan, I’m just very thankful for all of us to be a part of finding a solution, so, good work.”