04/18/12 — County to seek grant funds to help Dudley area community

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County to seek grant funds to help Dudley area community

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 18, 2012 1:46 PM

A Dudley area neighborhood would benefit from a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant that Wayne County commissioners have agreed to apply for.

Commissioners Tuesday morning unanimously approved the grant application for the Love Drive area at Dudley following a brief public hearing.

The approval included $30,000 in local dollars.

No one spoke during the hearing other than consultant David Harris of RSM Harris Associates.

The state receives the Community Development Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Harris said.

Harris reminded commissioners they had held an initial public hearing several weeks ago to talk about the grant and what it can be used for.

"It was noted that if the county were to apply in any particular category that is available it would conduct a second public hearing and present the specific projects, the amount of money being requested and what the activities of the project will be," he said.

Harris said the purpose of Tuesday's public hearing was to introduce such a project, and to recommend applying for grant money.

The money will be sought through the Catalyst Program -- a new name for the same activities, he said.

"The state has combined a number of different categories from the past -- neighborhood revitalization, housing development and a few others, and put them all in one category," he said.

It was done that way so that towns and counties could apply for which activities meet their needs, he said.

For example, if the primary focus is housing, there are support improvements, he said. Those include water, streets, sewer, drainage.

The county, several years ago, applied for, but did not receive, a community revitalization grant for the Love Drive area off of Arrington Bridge Road in the Dudley community, he said.

The recommendation is to resubmit that application, but with some changes, he said.

"The primary change is the funding has been reduced," Harris said. "Several years ago you could apply for $750,000. They have limited funds for the catalyst program to $500,000.

"In the program before, we were going to do housing, water, streets and drainage work on Love Drive, and then we were going to do street improvements on Quiet Drive. These are two parallel streets in the same neighborhood."

However, there not sufficient funds for Quiet Drive, Harris said. Also, the project area on Love Drive will have to be reduced, he said.

The area will be reduced from about 900 feet of roadway and nine households, to 600 feet with five households, he said. A minimum of three households is required to qualify as a project area.

The project area will start at the intersection of Love Drive and Arrington Bridge Road, and will require that a street be constructed where there is currently a gravel road. It will be built to state Department of Transportation standards so that it can be taken over by the state for maintenance and not be a long-term maintenance issue for the county, Harris said.

An undersized waterline would be increased to six inches.

"Of course all of the houses are severely deteriorated," Harris said. "There is a vacant one to be torn down. Another one would be torn down and the tenant relocated. The majority are owner occupied. They would qualify for housing rehabilitation assistance."

The Love Drive project easily meets all of the grant program criteria, he said.

Harris pointed out the resolution to apply included a recommended county contribution of $30,000 for the project.

"Within the guidelines of this program there is no mention of a match or percentage," he said. "But within the rating and within the consideration of these applications is a factor for local contributions.

"In other words if you want half a million dollars from the Community Development Block Grant program, how much is worth to you? Is it worth investing local dollars in that project as well?"

In the past, such project contributions have ranged from 5 to 10 percent, he said. That would be $25,000 to $50,000 for a project such as the one the county is considering, he said.

There is nothing "magical" about the recommended $30,000 and commissioners can write in their own amount, he said. All it does is get the county above the traditional 5 percent, hopefully making the application more competitive than communities that do the 5 percent match, he said.

The application is due by the end of the month, and the project would take about two and one-half years and span three different budgets. That lessens the sting of providing the $30,000, Harris said.

County Manager Lee Smith said percentage matches the county has made over the years is returned to the county on an annual basis.

The county has set that money aside to draw down for future match, he said.

There is more than $50,000 in that account that could be used to make the $30,000 match, he said.