On May 15, Crystal Simmons, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program manager, led a meeting at the county office building, where she heard requests for using the annual federal funding.
Each year the county receives funding for community development projects. These CDBG funds are based on population. Simmons estimates this year’s funding to be $500,000, shared between Waynesburg Borough, Cumberland and Franklin Townships, and the rest of the county. The county will get $200,000 of that total.
Simmons said she will receive verification of the CDBG grant amount in the next couple of weeks and is accepting requests for eligible projects until June 30. On Oct. 23 at 10 a.m. Simmons will announce the project she will submit to the CDBG program.
“By then I will have gathered enough information about all the projects to make a reasonable application, which is usually due at the end of November,” she said.
In October, the CDBG will also announce its plan for the next three years of CDBG funds.
“Each year, do we not only accept comments for the current year application, we develop a needs analysis we use to develop a three-year plan,” Simmons said. “We hope to focus our funding moving forward. It’s not a commitment, but like a plan so we aren’t going into (the next year) blind. It’s a requirement for the (CDBG) program.”
As of May 20, Simmons said she has received seven requests for 2019 CDBG funding.
Before the May 15 meeting, Jefferson Township requested funding for rehabilitating the Dry Tavern sewage. Then, six township supervisors or employees presented requests at the meeting. Those are as follows:
Wayne Township is requesting funding for rehabilitating Brave’s sewage system.Greensboro requests funding to rehabilitate its sewage system.Dunkard Township requests funds for demolishing an abandoned building in Bobtown.Green Township is requesting funding for a new municipal building, which township supervisors said, is experiencing flooding, snakes, mice and asbestos.Rices Landing requests funding to repair its water treatment plant and headworks equipment, which supervisors said has been damaged from people flushing wipes that clog the system.Washington Township is requesting funding to extend a water line on Route 18 to Sycamore and a portion of Garner Run Road.
Since receiving the requests, Simmons must now determine the eligibility of each project. She said CDBG funds must address one of the three national objectives, which are to benefit low-to-moderate income communities, aid in eliminating blight and meet any other urgency. According to the CDBG website, urgency is defined as “existing conditions (that) pose a serious and immediate threat to the health or welfare of the community for which other funding is not available.”
Simmons said she uses a non-biased approach to select the annual CDBG project. She conducts surveys for each of the requests, mailing out questionnaires to residents in the area. She also visits the project sites to assess the situation.
“I’m getting your income and it’s staying confidential. It literally stays in a locked box in my office,” Simmons said of the questionnaires. “When they don’t complete them, it makes it hard to find out if a (project) is eligible. It’s helpful to get more accurate data if everyone participates.”
She said the surveys are the most time-consuming part of the application process.
According to Simmons, the CDBG funds for the last two years went to extending a water line and rehabilitating the sewage system Whitely Township.
“Every water line is different, because of the expense of that one we used two years of funding,” she said. “Water lines are really expensive.”
In 2015, the CDBG grant went to improving the sewage system shared by Greensboro and Monongahela Township. The 2014 funds were used to extend a waterline in Morgan Township on Happy Valley Road.
“That utilized some of 2010 funding as well,” Simmons said of the Happy Valley Road project.
In 2013, Monongahela Township received the funding to replace water meters in Greensboro.
From 2012-2010, Simmons’s first year as CDBG program manager, funding went to Wayne Township to rehabilitate Brave’s water system and extend the Happy Valley Road waterline.
“There was also a housing component” Simmons said of funding from 2012-2010. “If people were income eligible across the county, the funding went toward individual home repairs.”
In 2009, the CDBG funding was used to replace sidewalks in Rices Landing.
“I wish there was some option to get some other program to reflect CDBG funds,” she said. There are just so many people to help, she said.
For more information on the CDBG program, contact Crystal Simmons at 724-852-5260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.