City CDBG Plan Open To Public Input

About $586,000 In HUD Grants Anticipated

Posted: April 15, 2014

Motorists travel west on West Market Street at the intersection with Waterman Drive Thursday afternoon. The fire department wants to use federal Community Development Block Grants to install technology to control traffic lights at the intersection. (Photo by Michael Reilly / DN-R)

HARRISONBURG — The public comment period is under way for the next wave of city projects suggested for funding through community development block grants.

Harrisonburg receives the grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development each year, but it must give the public a chance to weigh in before designating the money. The city expects to have about $586,000 available for the program in the fiscal year that starts July 1: $505,000 in new money and $81,000 carried over from previous years. The city received $1.3 million in requests for various projects from government departments and outside agencies, said Ande Banks, Harrisonburg’s director of special projects and grants management.

A selection committee chose, among other plans, to fund traffic light technology for fire vehicles ($150,000); debt service on construction for the Harrison Heights housing complex ($140,000); sidewalks on the southern side of East Wolfe Street from Sterling to Summit streets ($99,500); and an expansion of the kitchen at the Mercy House’s day care area ($28,000).

Projects must meet one of HUD’s three objectives: having a low- and moderate-income benefit; eliminating slum and blight; or addressing an urgent need.

The traffic light funding should complete the Harrisonburg Fire Department’s outfitting of every signalized intersection with the system that allows emergency personnel to control lights, Assistant Fire Chief Ian Bennett said. The primary stretch that would be paid for through next year’s grant is along West Market Street, he said.

At the Mercy House, the allocation will ensure the North High Street homeless shelter no longer has a kitchen in the day care area, executive director Twila Lee said.

“Kids eat where they play and sleep,” she said.

During a public hearing at City Council last week, two residents urged the panel to fund a $43,000 project that adds fencing around Newtown cemetery in the city’s Northeast neighborhood.

The selection committee did not choose the project because HUD wants to see an organization’s “capacity” to handle a grant, including managing the construction process, Banks said. The cemetery has a small board of trustees.

Residents can view the grant plan at the Municipal Building, at 345 S. Main St., and submit comments to Banks at 432-8923 until May 10. City Council is scheduled to adopt a plan May 13.

Nothing is final until HUD approves the city’s plan.

Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or pknight@dnronline.com



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