Waterman To Get ‘Safer Routes’
Public Hearing Set On Plan To Redirect Funding
Posted: November 23, 2012
Scott Sellers, an auxiliary Harrisonburg Police Department officer, stops traffic at West Gay Street and Chicago Avenue to help Monica Carlson walk her kids home from Waterman Elementary School on Tuesday. The city wants to build more sidewalks around the school as part of a Safe Routes To School initiative. (Photo by Preston Knight)
Harrisonburg City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposal at 7 p.m. Tuesday in its chambers at 409 S. Main St.
A 30-day public comment period will then begin before the city makes a decision and notifies the Department of Housing and Urban Development of its plans.
The hearing is basically a “housekeeping effort” because the public must be informed when the allocation of grant money is moved, said Ande Banks, the city’s director of special projects and grants management.
Harrisonburg received $488,106 through the grant program this fiscal year, which began July 1. Officials already had plans for spending the money, but the Public Works Department has since found that the “more pressing issue” was the Waterman project, Banks said.
The plan is to shift almost $115,000 that had been allocated for sidewalk construction on Green, West Washington and East Gay streets to the Safe Routes To School effort. The city received a $499,798 grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation in 2010 for the Waterman project, said Thanh Dang, the project manager for public works.
Those two grants will pay for the entire improvement.
“That’s the versatility of Community Development Block Grants,” Banks said. “Why use general fund dollars?”
The city sent a newsletter about the project to Waterman neighbors earlier this week. Construction is set to begin in March and will include new sidewalks on several streets, such as on the west side of Chicago Avenue between Second Street and Rockingham Drive, plus a new pedestrian signal and bike lanes near the school.
Banks said some sidewalk projects, such as on East Gay Street, will be scaled back while the city seeks to shift funds around.
Also at Tuesday’s hearing, council will receive comment on moving about $6,500 in grant funding to purchase a new handicap chairlift for Westover Pool. The money had been planned for a Green Street sewer project and a handicap-accessible door at Westover Park.
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or email@example.com