By Michael Harrell: PNT Staff Writer
Re-paving city streets was a hot topic at the Community Development Block Grant meeting Monday. Members of the public came together with city officials at the Memorial Building to suggest their ideas for state legislature program aimed at projects affecting low- and moderate-income families.
Every year the city competes for a portion of a $15 million state grant for basic infrastructure and community development needs in small cities, according to Community Development Director Jeremy Sturm. Sturm said the city itself would receive about $500,000 if the city’s chosen project was elected by the state.
Monday’s meeting offered several ideas from the public for potential projects for which the grant could be used.
Dennis Lopez, Roosevelt County Commission chairman, advocated re-asphalting the streets in the neighborhood behind Pizza Hut on North Chicago, extending to the Mental Health Center on East First.
“Fixing a street benefits everybody,” City Councilor Jake Lopez said.
The city received $466,000 from the last CDBG, which went to repave East Lime. The job is nearly completed, Dennis Lopez said.
Valerie San Pacini, a local social worker, said the grant could be used for a substance abuse facility, something the city lacks, but she feels it needs.
Many of the attendees nodded their heads in agreement.
“We don’t have anything to treat that,” commented another resident.
San Pacini also suggested a youth development center for social needs of low-income and moderate incomes.
“It would be a place for youth that would have leadership and education programs,” she said.
An alley clean-up project was also proposed by San Pacini.
“I do think it’s a problem with the city right now,” agreed Jake Lopez.
Dennis Lopez hacked the idea, saying an alley clean-up would not benefit enough people to meet CDBG’s criteria. The chosen project must benefit 51 percent of low or moderate income residents, according to Sturm.
San Pacini said she would instead propose the alley clean-up idea to city council today.
Jake Lopez also said the money could be used to remodel run-down homes in the area.
Wheelchair access in curb and gutter is required under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but the city did not supply them during previous road construction, according to a local resident, who didn’t identify herself. She said ramps should be funded along with a curb and gutter project.
The ideas suggested at Monday’s meeting will first be taken to Portales City Council, where a committee of city officials will choose which one to apply for. City council will propose a formal application to the state in late February or early March, according to Sturm. The state generally awards the grants at the end of March, he said.