The Ely City Council held a special meeting last Thursday to narrow down the list of Community Development Block Grant Projects for the City of Ely.
The CDBG Program is a widely appreciated and highly flexible community development tool, and a genuine federal-state-local government partnership.
The state receives its CDBG funds from the federal government, and uses those funds to provide grants to units of local government which implement the projects, typically using local contractors and/or non-profit organizations.
The city held the first public hearing earlier in October where six projects of interest were listed.
The first one was for downtown renovation, and the next five were for 11th street beautification, downtown commercial blight abatement, downtown plaza planning, low-income housing rehabilitation, and Parker Avenue sewer line replacement.
At the hearing in October several people in the crowd stood up and voiced their suggestions. Matt Weiser was one of them, who had three suggestions, two related to the Roger Brooks presentation about commercial blight abatement and downtown plaza beautification, the third was low-income housing rehabilitation.
When the Nov. 8 city council meeting came, City Administrator Robert Switzer announced that he had been notified that the city had 48 hours to decide what projects they would consider for the CDBG grant.
Switzer said, “I was informed Monday afternoon that they had shortened their time frame. Rather than a Nov. 20, deadline, they shortened it to less than 48 hours. So I was able to get four of the eight proposals done and submitted, and so those are in the works, the other four have problems of their own, they’re are all in to higher to lower moderate areas that in fact they would not qualify under the current scheme that’s in place.
“So the four that we did submit, would qualify for consideation,” Switzer noted.
The next step was a public meeting, where two out of the four would be determined.
At the Nov. 15, special city council meeting the council had to make the final selection.
Mayor Melody Vancamp asked the public if anyone wanted to comment
Switzer explained the four that would be the most notable for consideration included low income housing rehabilitation, the Murry Street sewer and water improvement, downtown renovation revolving loan fund, and downtown blight abatement that would qualify to move forward.
Resident Karrie Pintar said, “As to the four possible CDBG grant priorities, I would ask the council to please look at the rehab housing through RNDC and the second project to be Murry Street.
“Blight abatement on commercial properties belongs to those owners, so I think the city spending their money to do that is not fiscally responsible. To make them look better? Yeah that’s great, but that too again belongs to the owner of the building. Please consider consider low income housing, and the Murry Street project.”
Ely resident George Chachas said, “I agree with Kerri Pintar. The low income housing is also a good option and the Murry Street underground to finish it. Downtown will take care of itself, if the business is there. You have to take care of this stuff first.
“How are you ever going to get ahead, your robbing Peter to pay Paul?”
VanCamp recused herself from the agenda item since she resides on Murry Street. Switzer reminded the council that a decision would need to be made that night.
Councilwoman Jolene Gardner, made the motion to select the Murry Street project and the low income housing. Councilman Tony DeFelice seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously.
Since 1982 the city has been able to benefit from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development Community Development with 39 projects totaling to $3,977,044.92.