|Hollamon Street trumps senior center|
|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Wednesday, 26 May 2010 01:01|
When there’s not enough money to go around, elected officials often have to make tough choices.
The Camp Verde Town Council made one such decision last week when it voted in favor of pursuing funding for improvements along Hollamon Street instead of funding for renovations at the Camp Verde Senior Center or building a new playground at the local Head Start.
Earlier in the year, the council voted to apply for Community Development Block Grant funding for the senior center and the playground. The grants are administered through a federal program under the Department of Housing and Urban Development for projects that meet special needs or serve primarily low-to-middle income citizens.
The Hollamon Street project had already been started a few years ago. Town Clerk Debbie Barber said the town received a $100,000 CDBG grant for sidewalks, lighting and other improvements, but soon realized that wouldn’t be nearly enough to cover the cost of what needed to be done.
“We essentially had a $100,000 grant for a $300,000 project,” Barber said. As it stands now, the town has about $67,000 already invested in the project, primarily in engineering costs.
The remainder of the funds were used to help fund the town’s bathroom and shower complex behind the town gym, something that helped the gym
meet federal standards for use as an emergency shelter.
The town was hoping to fund the street improvement project through money available for special projects through the state of Arizona, Barber said. While she hadn’t heard anything official as of last week, she had it on good authority the state received far more applications for projects from towns than it could possibly fund. Many of the projects submitted would be considered a higher priority than sidewalks on Hollamon Street, like funding to reduce arsenic in drinking water to federally acceptable standards.
Since the town had already invested money in Hollamon Street, the council decided to change its CDBG application to request funding for that project.
If the town had waited until the next funding cycle in 2015 to request money for Hollamon Street, Barber said everything would have to be started again from scratch and the town would lose the investment already made.
The project will take around $371,000 to complete, Barber said, roughly the same amount needed for the senior center and the proposed playground.
One of the biggest downsides to not funding the playground, Barber said, is that playgrounds will no longer be eligible for grant funding under new Arizona Department of Housing standards. The senior center will also be knocked down a peg under the new guidelines, becoming listed as a medium priority project instead of high priority.
While council members said they didn’t make this decision lightly, Councilman Pete Roulette said there was clearly a need for a sidewalk along Hollamon Street, and he wanted to avoid an accident waiting to happen.
“I see people walking down there every day,” Roulette said.
“I’m really disappointed,” Councilwoman Robin Whatley said. “My heart is out there for the seniors. But we just can’t let $67,000 go.”
Councilwoman Norma Garrison said she too wished there was another way, but had to vote for the Hollamon Street project.
“We don’t always like to do what we’ve got to do,” Garrison said. “But we were elected to make these decisions.”