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Martinsburg wants to use some grant funds for repaving

August 15, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Federal grant money might help the City of Martinsburg catch up on its annual street repaving program, which fell victim to tight budgets in the last few years.

More than half of the city's $420,025 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) award for the 2010 fiscal year has been set aside for repaving streets and cutting ramps into curbs to improve access for disabled residents, according to figures released by Patricia E. "Pat" McMillan, Martinsburg's community development director.

The $251,820 in CDBG money allocated must be spent for improvements in low- to moderate-income areas. Another $400,000 in city general funds was budgeted for repaving and curb improvements citywide this year, city Manager Mark Baldwin said.

"While that seems like an awful lot of money ... really, it just catches us up," Baldwin said last week.

Baldwin said money for paving has been budgeted, but not spent, in the last 2 1/2 years because of budget constraints from the economic downturn.

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"Hopefully, we'll be able to do substantial paving," Baldwin said.

Exactly when the paving work will be done has not been decided because Baldwin said the city still is evaluating whether the CDBG funds will be available to bid all of the work at the same time.

Michael M. Covell, the city's engineer and planning department director, has been surveying street conditions recently and said the money potentially could be spread out over a dozen or so streets depending on the bidding process.

In the last five or six years, Covell said the city has cut ramps into sidewalks at intersections to improve access for the disabled as streets have been repaved.

The historic downtown business district specifically was targeted for sidewalk improvements. The need elsewhere has been assessed on a case-by-case basis, Covell said.

Covell could not say how much curb ramp work was left to be done in the city, but by continuing to coordinate those improvements with the street repaving program, he expects sidewalk access concerns eventually will be addressed citywide.

In addition to the street repaving allocation, $50,000 in CDBG funding has been allocated for a stormwater project between Maple Avenue and Church Street that will be done "in-house" by the city, said McMillan and Steve Knipe, the city's utilities director.

The Martinsburg City Council on Thursday also approved CDBG subrecipient grant agreements worth a total of $34,200 to the following organizations:

o Berkeley County Congregational Cooperative Action Project (C-CAP) Inc. -- $5,000 for an eviction prevention program

o Berkeley Senior Services Inc. -- $5,000 for in-home care services

o Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle -- $5,000 for a member scholarship program

o Children's Home Society of West Virginia-Safe Haven Child Advocacy Center -- $5,000 for coordination of support services to abused children during the criminal investigation process

o Court Appointed Special Advocates of the Eastern Panhandle Inc. -- $5,000 for case management services to abused children living in foster care

o Shenandoah Women's Center Inc. -- $5,000 for case management for domestic violence victims

o Berkeley County Meals on Wheels Inc. -- $3,000 for the Dine With Dignity program

o Community Networks Inc. -- $1,200 for a homelessness prevention rapid rehousing program

The remaining CDBG fiscal year 2010 funding -- $84,005 -- is allocated for general administration and planning, McMillan said.

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