By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – The City Council approved transferring unused Community Development Block Grant funds budgeted for code enforcement to public facilities improvement for artificial turf for Kessey Fieldhouse at its Nov. 1 meeting.
CDBG, a program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, helps fund affordable housing, anti-poverty programs and infrastructure development.
The city, which has changed the former ice arenas into indoor sports fields as a cost savings measure, has discovered a strong demand for indoor facilities for year-round soccer and baseball, which is where the artificial turf is needed.
CDBG consultant Mark Kibby said 2016 Program Year funds must be used or they revert back to the county for re-disbursement to other projects.
“This proposed transfer came about because the county is really getting very stringent on the program year funds being utilized in the 18-month period,” he said. “So we are running close on our timeline here.”
Kibby said Dec. 31 is the date by which the 2016 Program Year funds must be used, and they thought they could ask the county for a time extension for the original intended use, code enforcement, but the county is holding firm on the time frame for any fund expenditure.
“They are hoping to recapture those funds from people that do not spend their money,” Kibby said. “We will be able to apply for those funds, with about $900,000 being recaptured for communities that aren’t spending their money.”
Kibby said Melvindale does not want to forfeit the grant money by not using it, so by transferring $45,000 in 2016 funds from community code enforcement to public facilities improvement for parks and recreational facilities, the city should be able to get the indoor turf for the playing surface without having to use any city money.
He said the turf must be purchased and installed before Dec. 31 to be eligible for the 2016 funds.
In the 2017 Program Year, Kibby said public facilities CDBG grant money has been earmarked for Americans with Disabilities Act projects, including a wheelchair lift for the city swimming pool, and for senior services.
A public hearing, which was publicized in local media and held during the Nov. 1 council meeting, did not generate any comments from area residents.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)