Tamaqua Borough has begun discussing its allocation for the 2014 Community Block Development Grants. Although the total sum has not been released for the year, borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt said that the amount should be in the neighborhood of last year's grant, which was approximately $104,000. Community Development officer Dan Schroeder said that there could be a possible increase in the funds this year.
During the first public hearing, which was held this week, several projects were discussed. Eighteen percent of the total allocation is automatically directed to administrative costs. Additionally, the borough can use funds to demolish buildings. Steigerwalt said that he anticipates that two to three properties could come down next year.
The women's bath house at the Howard D. Buehler Memorial Pool was also discussed as a possible project. However, David Mace, chairman of the recreation and youth committee, said that there will be funds available for a larger project which would renovate both the men's and women's structures under the Marcellus Shale Impact fee allocation.
The application for this project would not be submitted until next year, and the project, if approved, would not begin until July 2016.
"It's my opinion that we need to put a lot of money into potholes," said Councilman Brian Connely, who was running the meeting in place of President Micah Gursky, who was absent. Citing the rough winter weather and the East Broad Street bridge project as the stressors, Connely said that many roads in the borough are in bad shape.
Schroeder reminded Connely that the funds can only be used in areas that have been designated as lower-income areas. "We're not going to find anything big that they're going to pay for," he said.
Council is asking anyone who has ideas for projects to submit them to the borough. Eligible activities include the acquisition of real property; acquisition, construction, reconstruction or installation of public facilities; code enforcement in deteriorated or deteriorating areas; boroughwide clearance, demolition, removal of buildings on a spot basis, special projects directed to the removal of architectural barriers which restrict accessibility of the elderly and handicapped; provision of public services, activities necessary to develop, payment of reasonable administrative costs; and activities carried out by public or private nonprofit organizations.