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For Immediate Release
City considers CDBG fund usage
SAN BENITO, TEXAS – A neighborhood park with no restroom facilities that serves hundreds of citizens is targeted for improvements in a proposed Draft Annual Action Plan that includes conveniences for children, youth, elderly and the handicapped.
Landrum Park, a City facility with little in the way of modern-day improvements, features a children’s open play area, climbing nets, monkey bars, slides, barbecue pits, benches, picnic tables and a gazebo, but no restrooms.
Now, the City wishes to upgrade the popular, family-friendly park with some basic amenities…namely restrooms.
Funding for the new facilities is proposed through the federal Community Development Block Grant Program, (CDBG), which, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website, provides an “important tool for helping local governments tackle serious challenges facing their communities”.
After years of assisting various service agencies, the City of San Bento is exploring a wider variety of uses of the funds to reach more City of San Benito residents.
“We were happy to help groups becoming established. Over the past 10 years, the City has been generous in its assistance to service organizations and non-profit groups,” City Manager Manuel De La Rosa said. The City has awarded the following:
Those awards total $548,508.09, and in some cases, some agencies did not claim all of their grants as we reimburse them for their documented expenditures, as required by law,” De La Rosa said.
“There is no question about it, they are all worthy, productive organizations that provide assistance within our community. And, many of them continue to receive other outside funding, whether it be from private foundations or additional federal and other grant programs. However, this year we are looking inward and considering the City’s own needs, which are many … and also worthy of consideration. Our own Master Parks Plan, which the City Commission adopted two years ago states: ‘While San Benito has a foundation for parks and recreation outlets in the city, there is a lot of opportunity for the city to use this plan to improve existing infrastructure, identify new park options and expand existing recreational programs to provide an adequate and easily accessible parks and recreation system that serves citizens young and old,’ ” he added.
With limited funds for making such improvements based on City revenues, and considering HUD guidelines, CDBG funds are helping improve the quality of life in San Benito, according to De La Rosa.
“HUD encourages cities to identify their needs, set priorities among those needs, decide how much money should be allocated to each high-priority need, and suggest the types of programs to meet those needs. This year’s Draft Action Plan involves investing $20,620 of FY 2018-2019 Community Development Block Grant funds at Landrum Park, a neighborhood public playground without restroom facilities,” De La Rosa said.
The City expects to receive a $406,237 allocation in CDBG funds. Budgeted obligations for some City streets, water/wastewater and administration costs in FY 2018-2019 total $395,618, leaving a balance of $10,620, to cover the combined $76,000 in funding requests, according to the proposed plan, De La Rosa pointed out.
New itemized requests from public service organizations for the coming fiscal year are:
“While all of these requests are worthy, the applicants’ requests are greater than the remaining funding balance,” said De La Rosa. “Therefore, we have proposed utilizing the remaining $10,620.00 for needed park restroom facilities at Landrum Park, which would benefit the entire San Benito community,” he said.
As per legal requirements, the City Commission approved a Draft Annual Action Plan on June 19 and published a public notice on June 22. Additionally, two public hearing were conducted with the first held on June 26 at the Cesar Gonzalez Meeting Hall. The second Public Hearing was during the July 3 City Commission meeting.
A 30-day comment period on the proposed action plan is now underway and concludes July 26. “It is the City Commission that will consider the plan for adoption, and I expect they will review it at their August 7 meeting,” De La Rosa said.