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Board approves CDBG priorities

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The 16 projects submitted for fiscal year 2018 Community Development Block Grant funding represent about half the applications received during the previous funding cycle.

The Hot Springs Board of Directors adopted a resolution Tuesday night that prioritizes the projects based on recommendations from the Community Development Advisory Committee, which ranked the historic preservation of the porch and porte cochere at the John Lee Webb House as the top capital improvement priority.

The Pleasant Street home of the late African-American community leader and philanthropist was assigned $62,000 of the roughly $350,000 the city estimates it will receive during the current funding round. Congress has yet to agree on a spending plan for fiscal year 2018, and the stopgap measure it reached to fund the government beyond Oct. 1 expires at midnight Friday.

Planning and Development Director Kathy Sellman told the board Tuesday night that the uncertainty affecting the budget process has kept the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from computing the current fiscal year's funding formula.

The population, housing stock and income statistics HUD uses to parcel out CDBG money among the more than 1,200 local governments that qualify for funding provided the city $389,355 and $367,000 during the two previous fiscal years.

Congress appropriated $3 billion in CDBG funds for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, but Sellman told the board it's possible that no money will be appropriated for fiscal year 2018.

Grant amounts the advisory committee recommended for the 16 projects submitted earlier this year total $439,483. Sellman told the board the city's estimated CDBG share can fund 11 of the requests. The 31 projects submitted for fiscal year 2017 consideration totaled $809,940, with fiscal year 2016 grant requests totaling more than $900,000.

The prioritized list the board approved Tuesday night will be included in the annual action plan HUD requires as part of the funding process. It explains how the funds will be spent and must be submitted within 60 days of the announcement of the city's allocation, the city said.

The $7,000 for a bus shelter at Central Avenue and Crestwood Street, located in board District 5, is the lone request not specifically assigned to districts 1 and 2. They typically receive most of the city's CDBG allocation, which is directed toward low and moderate income areas.

In addition to funds for the Webb House, District 2 was also assigned $34,205 for the revitalization of Malvern Avenue. Sellman said the money will be used for Malvern's Complete Street Master Plan, which envisions making the city-maintained segment from East Grand Avenue to Spring Street more inviting to pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

District 1 was assigned $23,903 for sidewalks and lighting at David F. Watkins Memorial Tunnel Park. The $63,000 and $38,938 in CDBG funds the park received in the 2016 and 2017 funding cycles were committed to building a retaining wall for the Park Avenue tributary of Hot Springs Creek and an amphitheater.

The board approved the following CDBG priority list. The city hopes to fund the first 11.

1. CDBG planning and administration -- $70,000.

2. John Lee Webb House historic preservation of porch and porte cochere -- $62,000.

3. Spot blight nuisance abatement -- $30,000.

4. Malvern Avenue revitalization -- $34,205.

5. David F. Watkins Memorial Tunnel Park sidewalks and security lighting -- $23,903.

6. Infrastructure improvements for neighborhood revitalization and economic development -- $20,000.

7. Garden Street sidewalk improvements from Mound Street to Malvern Avenue -- $26,790.

8. Cedar Street sidewalk improvements from Whittington Avenue to Glade Street -- $10,261.

9. Bus shelter at Central Avenue and Crestwood Street -- $7,000.

10. Linden Park bathroom replacement -- $42,500.

11. Park Avenue Phase 5 revitalization -- $27,774.

12. Ouachita Children's Center roof replacement -- $22,500.

13. Homebuyer education classes -- $10,000.

14. Habitat for Humanity Oma Street acquisition, survey and clearance -- $4,350.

15. Habitat for Humanity Cones Road lots five and six acquisition, survey and clearance -- $10,200.

16. Pleasant Street Pocket Park Playground -- $38,000.

Local on 12/07/2017

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