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Public hearing held on block grant projects

Published March 17. 2010 05:00PM

Tamaqua held it's first public hearing for the proposed projects for the 2010 CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funds.

Borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt prepared a list of potential projects, which include administration costs, clearing and demolition projects, work on the parking lot at the Tamaqua Community Center, retaining wall and sidewalk reconstruction at the parking lots at Broad and Nescopec and Broad and Hunter, and a lengthy list of street reconstruction projects, including ADA ramp reconstruction.

David Unterberg, the borough's consultant for the CDBG program, did note that it is unlikely that the borough would receive enough funding to complete all of the projects on the list. Although the borough doesn't know how much it will receive yet, Steigerwalt anticipates that it will be around $133,555, about $20,000 less than the borough received last year.

"It just keeps dwindling," said Unterberg. "It's tough to get even the small projects done."

Several council members expressed concern about the number of street projects on the list. Steigerwalt said that the borough typically has not used CDBG funds for street work, choosing instead to use the liquid fuel funds from the State. However, with recent changes and the requirement prevailing wage rates be paid, regardless of where the funding comes from, Steigerwalt said that this is now an option for the borough, particularly as this year's snow removal has already used up a good portion of the liquid fuel money. .

"I think it is horrible to use CDBG funds to pave roads," said Councilman Tom Cara. "This should be used for nice things for the borough." In previous years, the borough has opted to set aside money for playgrounds and other recreational uses. Councilman John Trudich also expressed regret that no recreation projects made it onto the list. "Every year, we've put money aside for the playgrounds," he said. "We just can't do that this year."

Steigerwalt said that he was open to other suggestions from council or members of the community. "This is just a draft list," he said. The borough is limited as to what the CDBG funds can be spent on. The list of eligible activities can include: 1. Acquisition of property; 2. acquisition, construction, reconstruction or installation of public facilities; 3. Code enforcement in deteriorated or deteriorating areas; 4. Clearance, demolition, removal, and rehabilitation of buildings; 5. Special projects directed to the removal of architectural barriers which restrict accessibility of the elderly and handicapped; 6. Provision of public services; 7. activities necessary to develop a comprehensive community development plan, and policy planning management capacity to enable the recipient to more effectively administer the program; 8. payment of reasonable administrative costs; and 9. activities carried out by public or private non-profit organizations.

The Borough will hold its next hearing prior to their April meeting.

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