Commission approves CDBG funds for Great Falls park, sidewalks, housing authority
In a 15 minute special meeting, City Commissioners voted 3-0 to approve staff’s recommendation to allocate Community Development Block Grant funds for four new projects.
Commissioners Tracy Houck and Bill Bronson recused themselves from the discussion and the vote.
The projects approved by commissioners are:
- Great Falls Housing Authority: $40,000 for boiler purchase, entry door system and furnaces
- Great Falls Public Works: $27,495 for sidewalk and curb ramps
- Great Falls Park and Recreation: $45,000 for a play structure at Kranz Park
- Great Falls Park and Recreation: $28,000 for a pavilion and amenities at Kranz Park
Those projects replace CDBG funding that had been removed from NeighborWorks Great Falls, Great Falls Development Authority, Habitat for Humanity Opportunities Inc., Paris Gibson Square and Rural Dynamics. Funding for those projects was removed due to conflict of interest issues and a review by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The new projects were added to use the portion of the city’s CDBG allocation that must meet the timeliness requirements. In this case, the city had funds that needed to be spent by May 2. If the city doesn’t meet the timeliness requirement, it would receive a warning from HUD and have to return all of the excess funds to the federal government, according to the city planning department.
Commissioners pushed the vote from their April 3 meeting to wait for the public comment period to close on April 6.
City Manager Greg Doyon thanked commissioners for delaying the vote though public comments received in the last week didn’t change the staff recommendation.
In written comments since that meeting, Shyla Patera wrote that she supports ADA projects throughout the city that involved curb cuts, alleyways and contiguous sidewalks.
Patera works with North Central Independent Living Service and regularly attends city meetings to advocate for accessibility.
She told commissioners that housing should continue to be a priority as well.
“Many citizens with mobility disabilities and other disabilities are seeking housing,” Patera wrote. “We need more accessible, affordable rental units built. Many also need home modifications to stay in and age in place in their homes. NeighborWorks, Habitat for Humanity, RDI and Opportunities Inc. have been longtime community champions of these efforts.”