CDBG applications reviewed at county level

By Kelsey Kimbler -

PREBLE COUNTY — Applications for Community Development Block Grant awards are currently at the county-level, for the Preble County Board of Commissioners to approve before moving to the state-level of the application process. On Wednesday, March 21, commissioners held a public hearing in which they reviewed all projects submitted to them.

On Wednesday, March 28, commissioners reviewed the information they had received from the public hearing, in order to rank the projects and decide which ones to send to the state. At press time, no decision has been made on which projects will receive funds.

To start this process, the commissioners reviewed previously awarded CDBG projects in Preble County.

In 2015, West Elkton received $51,000 to improve sidewalks, curbs, and storm sewers and $300,000 for Main Street Neighborhood Revitalization Improvements. Also in 2015, Lewisburg received $40,000 for downtown improvements.

In 2016, Lewisburg received $30,000 for Downtown Improvements and $300,000 for Downtown Revitalization Improvements. Also in 2016, Gratis received $58,000 for storm sewers and $100,000 for critical infrastructure for an Ada Doty waterline replacement.

The only fund information shared for 2017 was Critical Infrastructure project recaps. In 2017, New Paris had $300,000 awarded for East Cherry Street Improvements and College Corner had $300,000 awarded for Eaton Street Improvements.

During the meeting, Commission President Chris Day noted, “Preble County has been very fortunate to get a lot of dollars, thanks to everybody and our staff here. This has been a great program, I know that we have a lot of projects. The toughest job is awarding money.”

Every project had an opportunity for a representative to discuss their project with the commissioners and to explain, in fuller detail, what they want to accomplish with the federal funds, if awarded.

On Wednesday, March 28, the commissioners began by discussing the competitive projects. These include FY2018 CDBG Neighborhood Revitalization Projects from the Village of Camden, the Village of West Alexandria, and the Village of West Manchester, as well as an FY2018 CDBG Downtown Revitalization Project from the City of Eaton.

The commissioners are only allowed to forward one of these applications onto the state.

For a little more information on the CDBG funds, Administrative Assistant Kim Keller explained, “The CDBG money is coming through the state, but it is actually federal money. It is built into the budget through a HUD overseen funding stream. This part is usually for infrastructure improvements. The State allocates it out to the Counties and in some instances there are some cities that receive a portion, depending on their low-to-moderate income in the county and city.

“Based on how much funding they get for the state, the state brings it down for county. The counties are what they call allocation programs. Preble County then goes through the process of making all of our entities aware of all the money that we have and ask for applications. The applications have the meet the CDBG criteria, which is eliminating slum and blight or benefiting 51 percent low to moderate income,” she continued.

“Based on that the county will rank the projects and choose based on how much funding we get,” Keller added. “We have to submit it to the state by June 15. For the most part, for the allocation money as long as your project fits, they very rarely question an allocation project. The competitive projects are competitive. They are open to the whole county and the State sets aside a certain amount of money. The state reviews them based on criteria, like how many people are affected, population income, and how much leverage you are willing to put forward.”

She recommended commissioners first decide which competitive project they wanted to submit first, because normally to get more points toward the projects they put allocation money towards the competitive program. If they chose the competitive project, they will also support that allocation project, in order to use the leverage to get extra points.

The Board of Commissioners began by reviewing the Neighborhood Revitalization project submitted by the Village of Camden.

This project purposes the removal and replacement of deteriorated and non-functional catch basins throughout the entire village and construction of approximately 1,525 liner feet of new curb and sidewalk on the north side of West Central Avenue, from Sugary Valley Drive west to Hendricks Street; construction of approximately 330 l.f. of curb and sidewalk on the north side of Saint Clair Street from Liberty Street east to Lafayette Street, and construct curb, sidewalk, storm drainage and asphalt overlay on South Street from South Depot Street.

Additionally, the project will be used to construct parking, add a gazebo, playground equipment, picnic tables, benches, and trash receptacles at the proposed park on the west side of Lafayette Street adjacent to the school.

During discussion, the commissioners noted this project is the “closest” to serving the entire village, instead of just one part of the village, since the project does propose storm drainage and a park area.

For allocation, Camden is asking to construct approximately 900 l.f. of 5-foot wide concrete sidewalk on the east side of Main Street beginning at the Dollar General Store and continuing north to the entrance of the Quail Creek Mobile Home Park.

Next, the board reviewed the Village of West Alexandria’s application to remove and replace existing curb and sidewalk on Voge and West Third Street, beginning at West Dayton Street to Main Street (Ohio 503). The project will widen the streets, plane and repair street where needed and install new storm inlets and storm sewer and pave the streets with asphalt.

The project will also build a picnic shelter at Peace Park, install picnic tables and benches at the baseball and soccer park, and install trash receptacles throughout the village.

For allocation, West Alexandria requested to improve Third Street from end of previous project proceeding east to Stotler Road, approximately 200 l.f. The project includes the removal and replacement of 400 l.f. of curbs and sidewalks for both sides of the street, installation of 50 l.f. of storm sewer and 3 storm inlets, and paving of street area with new asphalt pavement.

This is the fifth and final phase of the ongoing road project in the village.

The Village of West Manchester hopes to reconstruct East Street from Maple Street to Jefferson Street with the construction of new curb, walk, ramps, storm sewer and water line, then new asphalt overlay of the street. The project will also widen the street from Jefferson Street to North Street.

Additionally, the project will be used to remove and reconstruct dugouts at the ball park and place picnic tables, benches and trash receptacles at various locations throughout the Village. The approximate length of the project is 1,200 l.f. Project also includes the cost for engineering for the project.

For the allocation portion, the village wants to replace the existing 200 water meters throughout the entire village with an AMI Remote Read Water Meter Reading System.

The City of Eaton took a different route and did not apply for an allocation project. Their Downtown Revitalization Project seeks to improve Eaton Downtown District, identified as Main Street (Ohio 35) from approximately Beech Street to Maple Street and Barron Street (U.S. 127) from Somers Street to the first alley south of Main Street.

The project will include placement of signage to identify public parking areas and street-scape items, i.e. benches and trash receptacles, improvements to approximately 800 s.f. of sidewalk decorative pavers that have become uneven and are a tripping hazard and assistance to building owners to make improvements to the building facades and to correct code violations.

Keller commented, “They have no allocation request to go along with this, so if we choose to go this route, in order for them to get points we would have to go back to the city and give them extra money, but that is only going to cover 50 percent of the cost of doing more rehab. If the city is coming up with 10 percent match, they would have to come up with additional match also.”

Day said, “But they did not apply for that. To get the leverage of that project, they should have submitted an application.”

“Like I said, I don’t think they’re ready yet [for this project]. They haven’t put it all together,” Keller said.

“We need to take into consideration if we think we have a good project to submit, we can submit one out of four. That will determine, as we review the allocation projects, because if we’re going to submit one of these, we need to leverage an allocation project to score good,” Day said.

Other allocation projects include:

•The Village of Eldorado wishes to purchase and install a new influence screening devise and replace existing blowers and mechanisms.

•The Village of Gratis wishes to purchase and install an emergency back-up generator at the Water Treatment Plant to replace current, failing emergency generator.

•Harrison Township wants to pave approximately 3,295 l.f. of streets within the unincorporated area known as West Sonora with a 1.5’ layer of asphalt surface and placement of stabilized aggregate berming to protect the new edges.

•Home is the Foundation requested $20,000 to purchased a new vehicle, replacing their old one.

“We can do two, maybe three, of these projects, depending,” Day said.

Keller added, they have roughly $140,000 to work with, although they might be allotted more or less. If more, Keller will increased the administrative cost she is taking from that amount.

“This is going to depend on what we want to do. We need to look at the competitive projects and decide what we want to do. We need to determine if we think there is a good project to submit, as we can submit one,” Day 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