Print Neighborhoods declared slums
Written by Greg Ruland   
Thursday, 17 March 2011 02:00

Cottonwood City Council voted unanimously March 1 to declare certain neighborhoods along North 10th Street a blighted slum eligible to receive federal redevelopment grants.

Several residents of the area spoke in favor of the vote, telling council children playing in the streets for lack of sidewalks were a danger to themselves and others.

Summer Breeze, 16, left, rides her scooter with other children on North 11th Street on Monday, March 14. Cottonwood City Council voted Tuesday, March 8, to declare the neighborhood a redevelopment area.Others said the improvements would bring relief from years of washed-out streets and muddy byways caused by uncontrolled channels of water during rainstorms.

The vote means council will direct as much as $371,000 in Community Development Block Grants to the North 10th Street Improvement Project, Long Range Planner Charles Sculley told council.

If fully funded, the project would install sidewalks, curbs, gutters and drainage in all the areas that lack it. Existing pavement and utility lines would be repaired. However, city officials estimate the total cost of needed repairs and improvements is $433,000, more than the grant program will pay.

Proposed funding cuts could reduce total grants to as little as $334,000. The city is committed to finding alternative funding to make up the difference, Sculley said.

To qualify for the CDBG grant, at least 25 percent of structures in the neighborhood had to be in deteriorated condition. Public utilities, including utilities, streets and drains, had to require improvements or repairs. The North 10th Street Improvement Project qualified on all counts, he said.

Bracketed by Main Street on the north and Mingus Avenue on the south, the neighborhood includes residential areas where many families and children live.

Concern for children was chief among the reasons council identified when it voted unanimously to fund the improvement project. New sidewalks, for example, will keep children off the streets, council concluded.

“It is the project that will affect the most people,” Mayor Diane Joens said.

The only other project competing for funds was the Loft, a homeless drop-in facility that connects people in need with people and programs that can make a difference. It’s also a place for homeless and needy people to wash clothes, bathe and socialize.

Catholic Charities’ request for $60,000 to pay 2011-12 administrative costs for the Loft was rejected.

Carol Quasula, site director for Catholic Charities Verde Valley branch, said she wasn’t surprised by the vote. She said she was not alerted the request was going before council at the March 1 meeting.

“If we can’t find an alternative source of funding, that may have to go away,” Quasula said.

There is a good chance the grant program could be further reduced or cut in the 2011-12 federal budget, Scully said.
The FY 2011 allocation for Cottonwood was projected to be approximately $371,000; however, recent proposals by the federal government could reduce the amount by 7.5 to 10 percent. That would mean a smaller than expected allocation of between $334,000 and $343,000, Scully said.

Projects eligible for grant funding had to meet one of three national objectives, including serving a primarily low moderate income benefit, addressing designated slum and blight areas, or for urgent needs, such as major natural disasters.

Cottonwood shares a portion of the CDBG funds on a four-year rotating basis with counties and other small cities under Northern Arizona Council of Governments umbrella.