By Jonathan Weaver
Federal Community Development Block Grant funds have expanded water and sewer services, as well as other projects, throughout Manor Township during the past 30 years.
Now, township supervisors are planning for the next improvements.
Manor Township received $83,617 in funding for 2014 and is expected to receive about the same in 2015, Community Development Coordinator Kathy Heilman said.
Out of that total, about $68,500 will be available for projects – following more than $15,000 being taken out by the county Planning and Development office for administration costs.
“We have not received the 2014 contract yet, but we are hoping the 2015 allocations will come out in late-summer/early fall,” Heilman said.
Last year, about $48,750 was designated to extend water service to three residences along Boyd Road (based on the road’s condition and engineering) and the remaining funds were allocated toward housing rehabilitation.
Funding has varied from $81,000 to its high point in 1995 of $125,000 during the past 30 years, but Heilman said all that money has added up.
“Since 1984, Manor Township has received as an entitlement over $3 million,” Heilman said. “We used those funds for sewer lines, water lines, removal of architectural barriers and housing (rehabilitation).”
Heilman cautioned supervisors when choosing a possible project – such as housing rehabilitation, public facility improvements or expansion of private facilities.
“With the recent requirements of the State, we have to be very cognizant of the beneficiaries to meet the national objectives of any potential project – it has to (in) principle benefit people of low-to-moderate income,” Heilman said. “Therefore, any determination must be made as to who would benefit from a particular project, and then as you know, that beneficiary would have to have an income survey conducted.”
Heilman recommended conducting those income surveys shortly before the application is completed.
“Before you submit an application, you want to make sure it’s an eligible project,” Heilman said. “It’s best if you wait until you get a little bit closer – I know that’s a little bit more difficult because you’re scrambling.”
Township-wide surveys would have to be distributed if supervisors wanted to pave the township fire hall parking lot – which is one of the long-term “wishlist” items.
As Supervisor Pat Fabian pointed out, four times in the mid 1990’s, a portion of CDBG funds were used for handicapped accessibility improvements to the fire hall. He was concerned a township-wide survey would not meet eligibility requirements.
Heilman said there are different guidelines when it comes to architectural barriers.
Under the federal Architectural Barriers Act of 1958, facilities designed, built, altered or leased with federal funds must be accessible to all public residents, including those disabled
Supervisor Paul Rearick recommended adding to the list extending water lines to residents who live along Goat Hill Road after being contacted by a few residents.
While Short Street resurfacing and drainage improvements (the 2012 and 2013 project) are pending a final contract with Shadco LLC of Marion Center, Heilman recommended keeping the project on the township’s long-term plan until it is completed in case extra grant funding is needed.
Public needs hearings in Kiski Township and Kittanning Borough are scheduled for Monday evening.
Kiski Township is expected to receive $88,174 in grant funds and Kittanning Borough will ponder ways to utilize $82,161 in CDBG funds, respectively.