Mar 30, 2011 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
Robert DeMore, director of Onondaga County CDBG, recently asked Marcellus Mayor John Curtin to write a letter of support to Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle, though DeMore says the congresswoman has expressed support for the program.
“[Community Development] is one of the few sources of revenue that remains for the villages and towns in Onondaga County to fund projects that are of such scale that it becomes almost impossible for local residents to finance in their entirety,” Curtin wrote in a letter to Buerkle’s office dated March 10.
Congress proposed a 63 percent cut to federal funding for the Community Development Block Grant program for 2011 in February; the Senate defeated the measure March 9.
Congress is now deciding just how much funding to cut from the program, as it works toward a compromise with the Senate.
Curtin said the program provides “tangible results, and it’s for infrastructure that’s already in place.”
This helps prevent suburban sprawl, he added. In his letter, Curtin said the village has for years benefited from the program, which was started by President Gerald Ford in 1974.
“Twenty years ago, Mayor Martin Sennett first began to use [community development] monies for the reconstruction of Main Street, and he was followed by Mayor Fred Eisenberg, whose vision for infrastructure improvements, sewer lines and streetscape improvements not only complemented those of his predecessor but led to continued efforts to do the same by his successors in the office,” Curtin wrote.
DeMore said Onondaga County’s Community Development budget for this year is around $7.4 million – a 63 percent cut takes that number down to around $2.74 million. The CDBG program aims to ensure decent affordable housing, to provide services to the most vulnerable in our communities, and to create jobs through the expansion and retention of businesses.
“It’s not a program of some huge bureaucracy that doesn’t do something,” DeMore said in defense of protecting the program from drastic funding cuts. “This creates jobs; local contractors do all the work for this program.”
DeMore said at least 15 municipalities in Onondaga County applied for Community Development funding this year; the deadline was Friday March 11.
The village of Marcellus applied for $100,000, and agreed to match at least 20 percent of those funds, in order to rehabilitate 907 feet of the Scotch Hill Road sewage system. Curtin said the project is estimated at $150,000.
Curtin said the northeast section of the village is the only area with an income level low enough to be eligible for CDBG grant funding. The average income level there is lower than the rest of the village because it houses two senior citizen centers.
“We have to do it in this section of the village, and this section happens to have some of the oldest sewers in the village,” Curtin said, adding that the sewers date back to the 1930s.
The town of Marcellus did not apply for funding.
“The application process can be time consuming and we did not have any priority projects this year,” said Town Supervisor Dan Ross.
The village of Camillus also did not apply.
“At this point, because of lack of sufficient funds to even match grants, we did not apply this year,” Mayor Michael Montero said.
The town of Camillus amended its five-year Community Development funding request to reflect the deletion of improvements to Camillus Pool, which the town voted to close on March 29, 2010. The pool had been at the top of the list. In its recent application, the town board prioritized instead a request for $10,000 to install an elevator in the Octagon House.
The town of Elbridge applied for grant funding in order to replace an 80-year-old four-inch water service line on Hart Lot Street in the hamlet of Hart Lot. The grant request was for $95,000.
“The water line has had several breaks over the last few years and needs to be replaced,” said Town Supervisor Ken Bush. “This was the town’s one and only grant request because of the importance to replace the line.”
The village of Jordan applied for CDBG funding for curbing, sidewalk and drainage work on Clinton Street and Landscaping on Clinton Terrace. The village board plans to extend the sidewalk to wrap around Clinton Street to North Hamilton in order to provide a safer walkway for pedestrians.
“The curbing would be stand-up granite curbing to help facilitate proper drainage and alleviate sidewalk flooding,” reads the village board’s resolution. The board wishes to add parking to the existing parking area on Clinton St. near Hamilton Road and fund “appropriate landscaping on Clinton Terrace to correct a blighted condition.”
The village board also applied, as its second priority, for funding to improve Jordan Veteran’s Memorial Pool Basketball Court. The CDBG funding, if awarded, would go to rejuvenating the existing court through drainage and resurfacing. The funding could also be used to replace roofing of the bathhouse and storage facility.