Despite Debate, Council Agrees on Federally Funded Projects

Updated 1 year ago Edited by Tony Rutherford from Multiple Reports
Olivia Hutchison, Miss Teen USA WV
Olivia Hutchison, Miss Teen USA WV
City of Huntington Photo

Huntington City Council members debated alternatives yet eventually approved the Community Development Block Grants as recommended without dissent.

Whittling of the HUD funded projects had led to a gap in amount of funding available and worthy projects asking for support.

The all inclusive playground and the phase two of the Skateboard Park attracted testy considerations. However, committee chairwoman Joyce Clark defended the final slate as having "the biggest bang for the buck" for accomplishment "at this time."

The Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District had requested $100,000 toward a $1.4 million dollar all inclusive park development at St. Clouds. The District as $400,000 raised and fundraisers continue including the Sept. 10 Freedom Ride for the Park sponsored by Black Sheep Harley Davidson.

Council members earlier hinted support when the fundraising is further along.The current allocation of CBGD funds must be submitted August 16.

Recovery Point asked $75,000 for building repairs, but only received $5,000.

Funded by the resolution will be he A.D. Lewis Community Center, a portion of the  purchase of a new truck for the Huntington Fire Department, security equipment for Lily's Place, and $134,000 for Phase II of the Skateboard Project at Harris Riverfront Park. The skateboard park funding had been part of a promise made in 2015.

Approved projects under the approved budget include:

-- $65,000 for sidewalk accessibility ramps.

-- $117,454 for the first year of a three-year, lease-purchase agreement for a new fire truck at University Station (20th Street).

-- $134,500 for the second phase of the skate park at Harris Riverfront Park.

-- $265,000 for demolition of vacant, dilapidated properties.

-- $35,210 for River Valley Child Development Services to create a continuum of care for infants exposed to substances in utero and their mothers.

-- $13,245 for Lily's Place to install security measures.

A second resolution approved $143,000 in CDBG funding including $106,000 for Phase I of the marina complex at Harris Riverfront Park and $36,000 for Huntington Police Department equipment.

In other business council approved funds for the Fairfield Rebuild initiative, the Fire Department STEM grant, salt purchase, and honored Olivia Hutchison, a Huntington resident,  crowned Miss Teen West Virginia who finished  in the top 15 of the Miss Teen USA Pageant in Phoenix, Arizona.

The MOU is required for the application of a HUD Choice Neighborhood Grant that the city will apply for later this month. The Fairfield Rebirth initiative seeks to revitalize the entire Fairfield neighborhood, including improvements to the A.D. Lewis Community Center; the development of community gardens and greenhouses; streetscape and green infrastructure upgrades; the establishment of home ownership assistance programs; job training and education programs; law enforcement, safety and anti-opioid programs; and community arts and cultural renewal initiatives

The three-year, $742,175 FEMA grant  will allow the Fire Department to increase its staffing from 88 firefighters to 95.The city's match over the three-year period is 25 percent during years 1 and 2 and 65 percent during the third year of the grant.

Seven firefighters whose positions were eliminated in January will first be offered the opportunity to come back to the Fire Department. Two of those firefighter have already been hired back and three more have expressed interest. The Fire Department has 180 days from the receipt of the grant to begin the hiring process.



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