New Paris seeking funding for Cherry St. improvements

By Kelsey Kimbler -

EATON — Preble County Commissioners held a second public hearing for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) critical infrastructure project for the Village of New Paris on Wednesday, May 10.

New Paris is seeking funding for improvements on East Cherry Street in the village.

In February, Susan Laux of Mote & Associates attended the New Paris Village Council meeting with bad news for the village: while Phase I of the East Cherry Street revitalization had its funding, part two was going to be funded with a Neighborhood Revitalization grant through Ohio Development Services Agency. Laux’s news pertained to that funding — the state had changed to regulating the grants on a biennial basis and Preble County would not be permitted funds until 2018, an even year, instead of odd-numbered.

Next year, the county will be allotted twice as much money — enough to cover two years of work, but until 2018, no funding through a Neighborhood Revitalization grant will be granted.

There was a silver lining, however, Laux added, the Critical Infrastructure Grant is open to all counties, no matter what year they are designated to apply for most grants.

She explained, this grant is on a first-come, first-serve basis, and is for a max of $300,000. This is a decrease of $200,000, so the village will have to come up with the difference.

Another issue with the grant is that all counties are only allowed to have two Critical Infrastructure projects open at one time and Preble County already has one open.

However, according to officials, this seemed to be the only option for funding on Phase II of the East Cherry St. Project. During New Paris’ February meeting, New Paris Village Council approved a resolution authorizing application for the grant and waived additional readings.

Now that the village has submitted the application to the Preble County Commissioners, the board has to decide whether to send it to the state for the lengthy application process.

During the public hearing, Laux spoke on behalf of the village. After thanking the commissioners for considering the application, she said, “This application is basically the second phase of a two phase project, the first phase has already been funded through the Ohio Public Works Commission with funds to be received in July. This will be the second phase of East Cherry Street. That will run from Spring Street out to the Water Treatment Plant.

“Basically, you can see that, part of the problem through this area with the second phase has to do with a water line that was put into the water plant in approximately 2002. Obviously, 15 years have been hard on that trench path that’s there. It’s unraveling significantly and therefore that is part of this project, to repair the base material there where the trench is unraveling.

“There’s also poor sidewalk and curb and gutter in that area. No storm drainage whatsoever. The village has been proactive in trying to facilitate a storm drainage outlet and did a project on West Cherry Street two years ago to put in a new outlet. That project had come before you, but they ended up being able to get enough money through Ohio Public Works Commission that they didn’t have to facilitate funds through the CDBG program.

“They were able to put in that outlet, which brings them up to Washington Street. The first phase that will be funded by Ohio Public Works on the east side will continue that storm sewage from that point to Spring Street. Then Phase II will go from Spring Street to the east court, in order to facilitate storm drainage all along that area that has none.”

Laux added, with the Critical Infrastructure it is “open round,” which means entities can submit applications year-round. The $300,000 cap remains the same, with a 10 percent match. The village will be proposing a 48 percent contribution through the $300,000 and a 52 percent match.

Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) requires a pre-application be sent in (including a letter of interest), and then depending on their reception, a full application will be required from the county.

According to Laux, the funding will come in September. Most likely, she added, ODSA will come back with consultation on how to improve the project.

“With that being the case,” she said. “We would like to request that the commissioners pass a resolution to submit the application to the Critical Infrastructure program so that we can facilitate the funding with you.”

When commissioners asked for questions, Administrative Assistant Kim Keller said noted, “There is one thing I would like to make you aware of. You have set aside $3,000 for grant administration. Previously when we have done competitive applications they have gone in with our formula and basically I have taken the bare minimum for administration, because I just use the allocation administration to cover everything. Since this is the only thing that Preble County could get in this program year, I am going to be requiring to be allowed the top amount I can get in admin, which for Critical Infrastructure is $20,000. So, you’re going to have to adjust your cost estimate, because if this gets funded, I have to have money to administrate it. The $20,000 is still going to be tight. I’ve got to plan into that — that will need to be adjusted.”

Laux agreed they would look at the numbers again before sending in the full application, if asked to continue to that point in the application process.

In relation to timing, Keller said, “The big thing right now is the letter of interest. We’ve already submitted the one for College Corner, so this would be the next one that goes in. So we would just wait until they review them and let us know which ones they want us to complete a full application for. They should let us know by the end of June or first of July, because then the full application has to be submitted by mid-July. From those, they’ll determine which ones will actually be funded.”

The letter of interest is due at the beginning of June, but Keller said she will send it out soon.

“I would like to extend my appreciation for everything the commissioners, staff, and Kim [Keller] does. For trying to get as much money as possible for Preble County and whoever is fortunate enough to receive this benefit, we thank you very much for your hard work,” New Paris Mayor Rick VanWinkle said.

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH