$160,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to be allotted in Clinton County


By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@civitasmedia.com



Amy W. Schocken, a partner of Community Development Consultants of Ohio Inc., says Clinton County commissioners have their work cut out for them in assessing six projects proposed for federal CDBG dollars. At the most, four projects can be chosen.

Amy W. Schocken, a partner of Community Development Consultants of Ohio Inc., says Clinton County commissioners have their work cut out for them in assessing six projects proposed for federal CDBG dollars. At the most, four projects can be chosen.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Clinton County Commissioners President Kerry R. Steed gets started Wednesday in reviewing and evaluating the six project proposals for CDBG funds.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

WILMINGTON — Six projects in Clinton County are under consideration for an estimated $160,000 of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to be allotted locally.

Moreover, the Community Development Consultants of Ohio Inc. is working with the Village of New Vienna to apply for a $500,000 CDBG Neighborhood Revitalization Grant. Unlike the $160,000 of allocated dollars, the $500,000 Neighborhood Revitalization Grant is a competitive grant, said Amy W. Schocken, a partner of the CDC of Ohio firm.

A grant is called competitive when it must beat out other applications for the same pool of grant dollars.

“We have been working really hard with New Vienna on putting together a Neighborhood Revitalization Grant [application] which is similar to what we did [a couple years ago] in Midland,” Schocken told Clinton County commissioners on Wednesday.

The potentially larger amount of funds of a Neighborhood Revitalization Grant can go toward multiple different projects within a municipality, so that the outcome can be an overall or comprehensive improvement to that community, Shocken said.

Those multiple possible projects in New Vienna include sidewalks, street improvement, and park improvements, she said.

Other than a small green-space where a gazebo sits, New Vienna does not have a park.

What they do have, said Schocken, are two tennis courts “in horrible shape,” a village-owned piece of land next to the public library that could be a little park, and they have eyes on the property right behind the library which if it were acquired could be used as park land.

The City of Wilmington’s proposed project focuses on South Street where it intersects with Main and Sugartree Streets. The project would involve ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) improvements, as well as pedestrian-friendly curb bulb-outs.

According to the application, the project would provide traffic-calming measures and pedestrian-crossing improvements at the intersection of South and Main [Streets] which has been identified as having the most pedestrian accidents of any intersection downtown.

The project would also enhance walkability by having curb ramps on all four corners of both intersections, said the community consultant.

The Wilmington Public Library’s project proposal pertains to exterior handicap ramp and related ADA improvements.

The Village of Port William has proposed a sidewalk project along the north side of Walnut Street. It would be for the installation of about 1,100 linear feet of sidewalk.

The Murphy Theatre proposed a project to make structural improvements to shore up the basement cavity under the public right-of-way and sidewalk, said Schocken.

She said she is working with the state to learn whether the theatre’s project qualifies for a CDBG Target of Opportunity Grant or for CDBG Allocation dollars.

The recently launched Clinton County Land Bank submitted a project proposal: demolition of vacant 42 W. Sugartree St. in downtown Wilmington.

A demolition project involving CDBG funds for that building was considered before, but did not qualify because at the time there was a “squatter” who stayed there, said Schocken.

Including the demolition and asbestos removal, the total cost of bringing down the structure is estimated at $100,000, according to an informational handout prepared by CDC of Ohio.

In the coming weeks, county commissioners will review and prioritize the suggested projects.

“Commissioners have their work cut out for them, determining priorities and greatest needs,” Schocken said in an interview after her appointment with the Board of Clinton County Commissioners.

At a maximum, four projects can be selected for a portion of the estimated $160,000.

The White House’s proposed 2018 Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Budget would eliminate all CDBG grants, including CDBG Neighborhood Revitalization Grants, CDBG Target of Opportunity Grants, CDBG Critical Infrastructure Grants, and CDBG Allocation Grants, she said.

The funding in this cycle of project proposals will not be affected, said Schocken.

“It’s [CDBG program] been threatened to be zeroed out before. Reagan threatened it and I believe one of the Bushes, ‘W’, did at one time. But it is very popular on the local level on both sides of the aisle. So there’s hope. But a huge cut? As you can see today, there are way more needs than we have [available CDBG] money now,” Schocken said.

She added CDBG has “been cut drastically” over the years.

“When I started more than 30 years ago, we were doing million-dollar grants. There is no such thing as a million-dollar grant anymore,” Schocken said.

A media release this week from the Trump Administration states the proposed spending plan will preserve support for 4.5 million HUD-assisted households.

The release also stated, “The Administration is seeking the elimination of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, devolving the activities the block grant program supports to the State and local level. Since 1980, and most recently in 2013, HUD studies found that CDBG is increasingly not well targeted to the poorest communities and has not demonstrated a measurable impact on communities.”

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

Amy W. Schocken, a partner of Community Development Consultants of Ohio Inc., says Clinton County commissioners have their work cut out for them in assessing six projects proposed for federal CDBG dollars. At the most, four projects can be chosen.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/05/web1_schocken_p_f.jpgAmy W. Schocken, a partner of Community Development Consultants of Ohio Inc., says Clinton County commissioners have their work cut out for them in assessing six projects proposed for federal CDBG dollars. At the most, four projects can be chosen. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Clinton County Commissioners President Kerry R. Steed gets started Wednesday in reviewing and evaluating the six project proposals for CDBG funds.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/05/web1_steed_p_f-1.jpgClinton County Commissioners President Kerry R. Steed gets started Wednesday in reviewing and evaluating the six project proposals for CDBG funds. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@civitasmedia.com