County swaps block grant projects
Written by ALEX ASPACHER, Sentinel Staff Writer
Saturday, 14 June 2014 01:45
Straying from the planning commission's recommendation, Wood County commissioners swapped out two block grant projects before giving their approval Thursday.
Bradner and Weston are now slated to receive part of the $155,660 available this year, while Haskins' and Tontogany's proposals were relegated as alternates after being initially recommended for funding by the planning commission last week.
The writing appeared to be on the wall that adjustments to the recommendation were possible. The planning commission measure passed 8-3, with two of the no votes coming from commissioners Doris Herringshaw and Joel Kuhlman, and final approval falling to the commissioners.
The board agreed Thursday that their shift had more to do with the merit of the Bradner and Weston projects than anything wrong with the other two proposals.
"These are all good projects, and unfortunately the state keeps cutting the amount of money we get, so it makes our decisions a bit more difficult," Herringshaw said.
"The process itself of comparing - these are like comparing apples and oranges and rhubarb and bananas - it is very difficult for us, I think, to discuss these and really try and compare them."
Kuhlman agreed with Herringshaw's comments and added his respect for the commission recommendation, even if it was only half-granted.
"Although we're deviating from the recommendation of the planning commission a little bit, I don't want anybody to think that that's because we don't take their recommendation seriously. That's what they're there for, and I think that discussion was very productive last Tuesday," Kuhlman said.
Since the four requests don't total the available $155,660, the remaining portion will be split evenly, bringing the award amounts to:
• Bloomdale: $31,237
• Bradner: $47,367
• Pemberville: $52,367
• Weston: $24,687
Wood County's pool of money totaled $181,000 this year and could only be awarded to four projects; splitting the sum among more communities was not an option. The total to be distributed is calculated by removing 14 percent for administration, of which $15,000 goes to the Fair Housing program.
Thirteen applications were received this year.
Weston's project involves demolishing its abandoned water treatment plant building, something that commissioners noted reflects the goal of CDBG projects in benefitting low- and middle-income households and preventing slums and blight. The site has reportedly been the target of break-ins and mischief by youth in the village.
Bradner proposed completing the final stage of a sewer project that will give firefighters access to proper water pressure by replacing a water main on Main Street.
Haskins and Tontogany both sought funding to install curb ramps compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The other two to receive funding, which were recommended by the planning commission, are Bloomdale, which will replace catch basins, clean a storm sewer and install adjacent sidewalk, curb and lawn; and Pemberville, which is working on a project to renovate its town hall and opera house by installing an elevator and handicap-accessible restrooms.
Before the planning commission settled on its recommendation, Weston and Bradner were among those put forth for the first suggestion by Rob Black, chair of the commission.
Herringshaw acknowledged that it's frustrating for communities to spend so much time proposing their projects only to not be funded. She mentioned Thursday, and Kuhlman has said previously, that all would benefit from more detailed guidelines regarding the intent of the CDBG program.
"I know it takes time for people to put these proposals together ... and if you come up with no money for several years in a row, it's really frustrating."
Last Updated on Saturday, 14 June 2014 02:12