Friday, May 17, 2013

Spring Is CDBG Time

Every year, there is a new round of grants in the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) program, and every year, the City of Hudson applies for money for one project or another. If memory serves, the last time Hudson was awarded CDBG money was in 2010, when the City received a grant of $400,000 to build a senior center, which, of course, hasn't happened yet. Whether or not the City still has access to that money and can apply it to refurbishing the officers' hall at the Armory as a senior center has yet to be determined, but last night there was a public hearing to find out what projects the community would like to see pursued in the 2013 round of the CDBG program.

A common theme was sidewalks. Off Warren Street in both directions and above Park Place, Hudson's sidewalks are in pretty deplorable shape, exacerbated by the fact that property owners are responsible for the care and keeping of their own sidewalks and individual efforts at sidewalk improvement regularly result in treacherously uneven sidewalks. Not a good thing for a community that wants to think of itself as walkable.

Linda Mussmann pitched the idea of new sidewalks along the stretch of Columbia Street where Time & Space Limited is located, arguing that "that strip of sidewalk links to all kinds of stuff." She cited DSS, the county health building, Columbia Opportunities, and the library as examples of public facilities people walk to along that sidewalk and talked of the number of strollers that get pushed along that sidewalk.

Supervisor Sarah Sterling (First Ward) recalled a situation (now corrected) on Third Street just north of Warren where the sidewalk had been missing at a designated school bus stop and suggested a project to "fix sidewalks and make better school bus stops."

Carrie Haddad suggested that a broader approach was needed for sidewalks--one that looked at the whole city. She suggested that, in addition to sidewalk improvement, Hudson needed public bathrooms and named two spots where they might be located: in the pocket park next to Mexican Radio and in the PARC Park across from the Hudson Opera House. Haddad also pointed out that there were forty tree wells throughout the city where trees have been removed and have not been replaced and suggested a project to plant trees in those spots.

Returning to the topic of sidewalks, Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) said that he was working on a proposal to create special assessment districts throughout the city to address the need for sidewalk repair. Districts would be identified for sidewalk improvements, and the property owners would pay for those improvements over time in their property taxes.

Former mayor and now Fifth Ward supervisor Rick Scalera called sidewalk improvement a "highly complex issue" before pitching what he considered a priority: replacing the Ferry Street bridge. Stressing its importance to waterfront development, Scalera opined, "No developer would go down there if there is only one way of access," and shared his assessment that "the bridge problems are more than just planking."

Mention of the Ferry Street bridge prompted Common Council president Don Moore to share the information that CSX is willing to turn the bridge over to the City but "we need to raise money." He pointed out that the amount of money needed to replace the bridge--either $1.5 or $2.5 million, he couldn't remember which--was significantly more than the maximum available through the CDBG program, which is $400,000 for a single purpose grant and $600,000 for a comprehensive grant. Moore revealed that the City's application for a grant from STEP (Strategic Transportation Enhancement Program) for the Ferry Street bridge had not been successful, but Bill Roehr of TGW Consultants indicated that there would be an opportunity to apply for a TEP (Transportation Enhancement Program) grant for funds to replace the bridge in August. 

Before a decision is made about the project for which the City will seek CDBG funding, there will be more opportunities for the public to share their ideas. A second hearing is scheduled for Thursday, June 6, at 6 p.m. Moore also suggested the informal Common Council meeting on Monday, June 10, and the Common Council Economic Development Committee meeting on Thursday, June 20, as opportunities for the Council to hear public opinion.

Addendum: In 2012, the City of Hudson applied for but did not receive $600,000 from the CDBG program to install 2,700 feet of water main and forty-seven service connections on Riverledge Road and Joslen Place.

1 comment:

  1. The City of Syracuse has a municipal finance arrangement for sidewalk repair: (from their website)
    " Repair and upkeep of sidewalks are the responsibility of each property owner. Sidewalk repairs must be paid for by the owner. Property owners who wish to have new sidewalks installed may use choose one of three options. First, they can do the work themselves. They will need to apply for a sidewalk construction permit available from the City’s website under the “Public Works” section at Second they can choose to hire a contractor who will need to apply for the same Sidewalk Construction permit on the City’s website The third option is to use the City’s Sidewalk Assessment Program, which allows them to pay for the cost of the sidewalk over a ten-year period, at an annual interest rate of approximately 7%. The City arranges for the construction. Sidewalks repaired under the Sidewalk Assessment Program are guaranteed for two years. To take advantage of this option, please contact the City Sidewalk Inspector at (315) 374-3890 to schedule an appointment. "