City coun­cil seeks $266K com­mu­nity block grant

The Covington News - - The Second Front - JAY JONES Spe­cial to The News

Sub­stan­dard hous­ing is the tar­get of a $266,623 grant the city is seek­ing as part of an over­all ef­fort to up­grade ne­glected ar­eas.

The Por­terdale City Coun­cil agreed to a res­o­lu­tion dur­ing a call meet­ing last week to sup­port the Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Block Grant ad­min­is­tered by the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Com­mu­nity Af­fairs. If ap­proved, the grant will fund the ren­o­va­tion of eight houses in the his­toric mill vil­lage that has gone into dis­re­pair.

The grant will ben­e­fit low-in­come home­own­ers, who were se­lected through in­ter­views con­ducted over the last four months by city staff and the North­east Ge­or­gia Re­gional Com­mis­sion.

Nina Kelly, NEGRC project man­ager, ex­plained to the coun­cil at the March 22 meet­ing that the grant will in­volve eight houses in and around the Rose Hill neigh­bor­hood on Rose, Pink, North Broad, Ivy, Hazel and Lau­rel streets.

The city is not re­quired to put up a match­ing per­cent­age of the grant but has to out­line an owner par­tic­i­pa­tion plan in the ap­pli­ca­tion. Kelly said that part will be $5,500 in low-in­ter­est loans the res­i­dents of the houses have agreed to take out to help fund the ren­o­va­tion work. The loans will be ad­min­is­tered through the Por­terdale Down­town De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity.

Kelly said it was im­por­tant for the res­i­dents to have a stake in the work but ac­knowl­edged they were limited due to their in­come.

“We felt, and through dis­cus­sions, that mak­ing it avail­able as a low-in­ter­est loan to home­own­ers that they will even­tu­ally pay back through the DDA will make that more pal­pa­ble,” she said.

Por­terdale City Man­ager Bob Thom­son said the grant is a part of an on-

go­ing re­vi­tal­iza­tion of the Rose Hill neigh­bor­hood. The city has a con­tract for curb and gut­ter in­stal­la­tion.

City staff and vol­un­teers are also plant­ing roses in pocket parks and paving a dirt street on the city’s cap­i­tal im­prove­ment projects list.

Thom­son men­tioned the DDA loan pro­gram and added the other im­prove­ment projects should help to­ward win­ning the grant award.

“That doesn’t go to­ward the cash match, ob­vi­ously, but it does show to the Depart­ment of Com­mu­nity Af­fairs that the town is in­ter­ested in ac­tively in­vest­ing [in the area],” he said. “It helps,” he added. The grant was filed with DCA this week and city of­fi­cials should find out re­sults of the grant award some­time this sum­mer.

Kelly added if Por­terdale is awarded the grant, the city will then be able to ap­ply for other Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Block Grants an­nu­ally in­stead of ev­ery other year as re­quired by the DCA.

A meet­ing is also sched­uled for April 14 to be­gin the process to build the 31-acre Yel­low River Park that will run from the Broad Street bridge north to­ward Por­terdale’s his­toric de­pot.

The park is funded through a $100,000 Re­cre­ation Trails Pro­gram grant awarded to the county and the city of Por­terdale by the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion.

The county and city each put up $10,000 in match­ing funds. New­ton County Spe­cial Projects Co­or­di­na­tor Ch­eryl Delk is co­or­di­nat­ing the project.

The park will have an en­try gate­way at the corner of Broad and Rail­road streets, a loop trail and fish­ing ac­cess to the river. Delk ex­plained to the coun­cil last week the city and county will need to start de­cid­ing what fea­tures they want in the park. She called the April 14 an “en­vi­sion­ing ses­sion.”

“There’s a lot of things we need to talk about the grant be­fore we hire a con­sul­tant and get down to the de­tails,” Delk said. “We have a lot of old timers who drive down here to fish. Do we want to pro­hibit driv­ing down there? Do we want driv­ing down there? It would be good to get all of these ques­tions on the ta­ble.”

The Yel­low River Park is the first trail­head for New­ton County as part of a planned net­work of multi-use trails that will even­tu­ally con­nect Por- terdale, Ox­ford and Cov­ing­ton with the Ge­or­gia In­ter­na­tional Horse Park in Rock­dale County.

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