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City wants to replace bridge, repair sewer with federal grants

May 25, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Despite pleas to help the homeless, veterans and a Boys & Girls Club in Martinsburg, a $495,000 HUD grant will be used instead to repair a sewer system and replace a bridge, officials with the program announced Monday evening.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant, part of the federal Community Development Block Grant program, tentatively has been offered to the city for the next five years, said Pat McMillan, local director of the program.

Plans for how to spend the money over the next year and the next five years were unveiled during the meeting.

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For the sewer project, $33,000 will be spent on engineering expenses and $81,400 will be used to replace 407 linear feet of 24-inch pipe along East John Street, from Tuscarora Creek to South Water Street, according to information distributed at the meeting.

Another $242,600, including some money from next year's expected allotment, will be used to replace 927 feet of 30-inch pipe along South Water Street, from South Spring Street to East Burke Street.

McMillan said those neighborhoods are made up of low- to moderate-income citizens. At least 70 percent of the grant money must be used to help such residents.

Walter J. Haglund, of the consulting company Urban Design Ventures, said the sewer project is a worthy one that will help eliminate backed-up raw sewage and flooding. One family has experienced flooding 12 times in the last year, he said.

Residents' sewer bills will not be increased as a result of the project, he said.

The second project, replacing the East John Street bridge over Tuscarora Creek, will require $125,000 - which also includes some funding expected for next year.

Up to 20 percent of the grant can be used for administrative costs, with the city spending all of the allotment - $99,000 - for such purposes.

Included in that expense is $15,000 being paid to a Pittsburgh-based consulting agency and McMillan's $38,000 salary. Other expenses will include planning costs, required advertising expenses, environmental assessments and ensuring certain requirements are met, McMillan and Haglund said.

Future uses for the money include spending $105,000 on youth, park and recreational facilities; $75,000 on the Tuscarora Creek Linear Park project, $500,000 for street, sidewalk and bridge repairs; $100,000 for code enforcement efforts; $50,000 for waterline improvements; $20,000 to improve the senior center; $55,000 to offer people who need emergency repairs; $100,000 for a business assistance program and $100,000 for a commercial/industrial new development program. Another $200,000 has been set aside to help local social service agencies with matching funds.

Before the 30-minute meeting ended, several people spoke about how they believe the money should be spent, including several who spoke at a previous public hearing last month.

Glenda Helman, with Community Networks Inc., reiterated her belief that the city's homeless population needs help. She said 102 women and 76 children sought shelter last year in the city and that 4,061 on-site meals were served.

Colleen Smith, chairwoman of the Homeless Coalition of the Eastern Panhandle's Board of Directors, said that she recently counted 88 homeless men, women and children in the city's limits.

Cheryl Moyer, with Telamon Corp., said a cold-weather shelter is desperately needed.

Other sources of funding, including HUD money, already exists to help with those kinds of projects, Haglund said.

On June 10, City Council members will vote on whether to accept the one-year and five-year plans.

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