It was back to the drawing board for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) allocations for fiscal year 2012 . At the same time, the City of Dunkirk Department of Planning and Development is working on developing a five-year plan for the period beginning April 1, 2013.
Recently about a dozen Dunkirk residents attended two consecutive public hearings held at Iglesia Getsemani Assembleas De Dios. Pastor Carlos Llera, his wife Carmen, and several members of the congregation, including the Youth Program director, were among the dozen participants.
A general outline of the allocations for fiscal year 2012 was available to those attending the first hearing. According to Steve Neratko Dunkirk's Director of Planning and Development, "We had done the allocations last November. However, we do have to make changes. Certain projects had too much allocated to them. Only a certain amount of money can be allocated to specific projects."
OBSERVER Photo by Diane R. Chodan
Josiah Lamb studies his notes and the handout listing allocations from Community Development Block Grant for fiscal year 2012.
The attendees' questions were geared to elicit more detail about the summary sheet provided. One question was who actually provided the services.
Neratko said that some projects are city projects while others are subordinated to non-profit organizations. For example, under senior services, Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals-on-Wheels is allocated funding. Chautauqua Opportunities has handled homeownership education and may do so again this year. In youth services, some of the money goes to the city's youth and recreation program, while other monies are available to non-profits. Since the plan is being redone, he encouraged organizations to contact his office.
"We have some proposals on file and are looking for new ones as well." said Neratko. A specific request for proposal (RFP) has been issued for a housing rehabilitation administrator. The proposal is available on the city of Dunkirk's website. Responses have to be delivered to City Hall by noon on Sept. 14.
Pastor Llera asked whether some of the $15,000 designated for youth services could be allocated to programs provided by his church. After initially saying he didn't think so, Neratko said, "I will definitely check into it."
Money for code enforcement goes to salaries so that there are enough city employees to do code enforcement work in the targeted areas of the city. Neratko said that the $30,000 allocated for demolition would probably cover the demolition of one building while the $100,000 for owner occupied housing rehabilitation would probably be enough for 10 to 15 houses.
Arlene Langendorfer, a member of the Citizens' Advisory Committee (CAC), asked about the $20,000 allocated for sidewalks. She said, "I am a walker, and many sidewalks are in poor condition. I don't think it is fair. Some maintain their sidewalks and some don't. I understand that economics are a problem but something should be done."
Neratko said that the category sidewalk improvement also encompasses providing handicapped curb accessibility, benches, lighting, and planting trees.
As is his custom, Richard Goodman, program director of Spoke Folk, asked about the progress of the bike path in Dunkirk. Neratko replied that CDBG money cannot be used for this project but there is other funding that may be available for the project.
Employment training had a $10,000 allocation. James White, a member of the CAC, expressed the opinion that training should more closely match the types of jobs that are needed in the city.
At the Common Council meeting on Sept. 4, the outline for allocation of the fiscal year 2012 money will come up for a vote. This requires rescinding a previous resolution dealing with allocation of the monies and substituting the new allocations. By mid-September the figures should be submitted to HUD (Housing and Urban Development, a federal department) for approval.
The city has more time to develop the 5-year plan. At this point, development is in the preliminary stages. Travis Gordon, a graduate student at the University of Buffalo and an intern in the Department of Planning and Development, explained the Community Development Block Grant money comes from HUD and is to be used for low to moderate income people. He explained the city has to use the money for specific types of projects such as acquiring real property, improving public facilities, rehabilitation of and construction of property, disposal of property, public services, administrative costs, activities provided by non-profit organizations, and alternate education.
Gordon noted that the process has many opportunities for public input including the initial development of the plan, after the first draft is created, and after the plan is finalized. At this point the department is planning to hold a meeting outside at Washington Park on Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. If it rains, the meeting could be held inside the Historical Museum. Another planned venue is the Senior Center, but the date has not been finalized. The idea is to hold meetings on different days and times and at different locations so that the public has a good opportunity to comment.
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