by Jonathan Weaver
Kittanning Borough Council President Randy Cloak has clarified use of the municipality’s Community Development Block Grant funding.
During Monday’s continued council meeting, council members tentatively agreed to allocate about $67,400 toward housing rehabilitation.
But, as Cloak said last night, that decision is only temporary.
“The reasoning behind it being switched to housing rehab is more of a placeholder until the income surveys from Fair Street can be obtained,” Cloak said. “The intention is to pave Fair Street. Right now, paving is our priority.”
Kittanning Borough –an entitlement community based on population and median income – must submit their application for how to utilize that funding to the Department of Community and Economic Development officials by March 5.
To qualify to use the grant funding toward reconstruction of a portion of Fair Street – located a few blocks from Kittanning Senior High and near the entrance to Community Park -, Community Development Director Jennifer Bellas would need to receive seven or eight more income surveys to make sure the street residents as a whole are of low-to-moderate income.
About 12-15 households are thought to be impacted by the project. Only 51 percent of homeowners need to respond to tabulate results and adhere to guidelines.
“Due to the lack of income surveys we’ve gotten for previous projects, we allocated funds toward rehab of single-unit residential (homes) – Borough-wide rehab,” Bellas said during Monday’s public hearing.
Bellas will continue to receive Fair Street income surveys and will double-check if she is using accurate addresses. County Department of Planning and Development officials have already sent out mailers on three different occasions.
Council officials inquired whether they can help in the matter to make sure the reconstruction can occur with the current grant funding.
“Other people can, but the approving board is not permitted because it can show an appearance of a conflict of interest,” Bellas said. “I have been asked, so I will check and let them know.”
Bellas will also check to see if Mayor Kirk Atwood could assist.
“I’m not convinced we’ve totally abandoned the project,” Cloak said after Monday night’s meeting. “I think we’re exploring ways that we can get these filled out and turned in so we can move forward with the project in the Spring. We did what we had to do tonight to shift that funding to a different project, but we definitely want to explore this more – I’m still committed to the Fair Street project.”
The application to dedicate the money for housing rehab until enough surveys are collected is expected to be approved by resolution at Monday’s public meeting.
As of the 2010 census, Kittanning Borough no longer qualifies for community-wide benefit projects
Other street reconstruction projects are listed on the Borough’s three-year plan, as well as other community and recreational improvements. Alleys can also be reconstructed in-full through income surveys.