By GIB SNYDER
OBSERVER City Editor
The city of Dunkirk has come up with a plan for use of Community Development Block Grant funds for 2013-2014, but it's not too late to have a say on that plan. Comments and suggestions are welcome on the proposed use of 2013-2014 CCBG funds as time winds down for the final submission of the city of Dunkirk's plan to use the federal funds.
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
Dunkirk officials are looking to use Community Development Block Grant funding to pay for part of a rebuild of Plover Street between Fifth and Sixth streets. Pictured are Dunkirk High School students walking on Plover toward Fifth Street after school Monday.
The 2013 plan, covering the period from April 1 through March 31, 2014, is based on the 2013-2017 Consolidated Plan identifying activities which will address the priority needs in the community. In a change from prior years, the entire city is considered to be in the low- to moderate-income bracket for 2013-14.
According to the proposed plan, the city will target the poorest of poor areas of the city for CDBG funds if possible, thus eliminating blight and improving the housing stock.
The city also plans to put together a slum and blight study to outline the areas most in need. This will be included as an addendum to the Consolidated Plan in the future.
In addition, the city plans to more closely monitor the use of CDBG funds.
City officials had input from a steering committee composed of non-governmental city residents. The committee will remain in place to "help guide government officials and grantees in terms of what needs to happen, and where it needs to happen."
The city has set year-to-year priorities over the five-year plan.
Improving housing stock around the waterfront district area is year one's while in year two the priority is to improve housing stock in the central business district, and the area around the waterfront district. Improving the area around the central business district is for year three; including focusing specifically in the Washington Park and Academy Heights neighborhoods. Year four will see more improvement around Washington Park and Academy Heights while year five's priorities include improving housing areas on the border of Fredonia, encouraging potential home purchases for students, faculty and staff from SUNY Fredonia.
Fair housing education, addressing lead-based paint hazards, assistance for energy conservation and weatherization are also in long-range plans.
The city's plans for the 2013 CDBG funds include $109,815 for streets improvements; $75,000 to the Dunkirk Local Development Corporation; $50,000 for demolition in the target area; $25,000 for code enforcement; $10,000 for Meals on Wheels under senior services; and $90,000 for administration.
Streets improvements will allocate $60,000 toward the Plover Street Reconstruction Project, which will involve a total reconstruction. Plans call for new drainage, sewer and water lines, and sidewalks. State and local money will also be used to upgrade Plover Street between Fifth and Sixth streets.
Mayor Anthony J. Dolce said Department of Public Works officials have wanted to get Plover Street done for some time.
"We have a good amount of these around the city and this is one of those we can get knocked off this year. Ruggles is also on our list, that's another long-standing one," Dolce added. "We decided we wanted to get these done right once and for all; so let's dedicate as much as we can to one street this year and one street next year and go from there."
Dolce said a total cost estimate is still being put together.
The remaining $49,815 of CDBG streets improvements will be used on streets in the first-year target area with a goal of repaving three city blocks. Dolce was asked if those streets have been selected.
"We have a preferred area. HUD has asked us to come up with some sort of system each year for our five-year plan. This year additional points will be awarded for areas around the lakefront, but that doesn't mean we won't do other areas. It just means our preferred area for that year would be near the lakefront," he replied. "It does not eliminate other areas from contention and we're going to dedicate a large chunk to the whole city because of the carryover of CHIPS funds. We'll have two years of CHIPS funds plus another, almost I'd say $50,000, from CDBG funds to hit the rest."
The DLDC's allotment of $75,000 will see $50,000 go to a loan payment for the Bertges Building site, noted as "an important piece of property in the heart of the city." Brownfield cleanup at DLDC-owned properties will get $20,000 with the remaining $5,000 in this category allocated to administration and operating costs within the DLDC. According to the report, the DLDC is set to receive some $20,000 in program income in 2013 that will be used for economic development projects.
The $90,000 for administration includes $75,000 allocated toward city employee salaries, $13,000 for CDBG-eligible contracted services and $2,000 for operating costs.
Dolce thanked the Development Department personnel for their efforts.
"One of the main objectives for us was to limit the amount of projects that we did. A couple years ago we were just over 20, which was simply too many. HUD expressed they wanted us to get into the five and six range," he added. "We were thrilled to get it at seven projects. HUD was thrilled with that; we're thrilled with that. Again, the negative is you can't help as many applicants, but when HUD sets a guideline it's in our best interest to follow that guideline.
"With a great deal of discussion internally and externally weighing the needs of the public with what we felt would best serve the public, we were glad with the end result."
The plan is available online, and in the Development Department and City Clerk's office. Written comments are accepted until Friday, Feb. 1. The link to the proposed 2013 CDBG action plan is www.dunkirktoday.com/wp-content/uploads/First-year-AAP.pdf.
The city will host a presentation on details of the plan on Jan. 28 at 10 a.m. in City Hall.
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