The Community Services League could become the first social services organization to receive part of the federal community development grants allocated in Blue Springs, if the City Council approves its request.
Projects considered for Community Development Block Grant funding include Downtown Alive!, a non-profit organization dedicated to revitalize downtown Blue Springs by helping buildings in that area undergo exterior facade renovations. It would be eligible for $10,000. The Community Services League (particularly its Blue Springs office), which helps people attain economic stability could get $10,000 to $15,000; the city's First Time Home Buyers Program, an effort between the city and area mortgage lenders to bring home ownership available to low and moderate families and individuals, and Minor Home Repair Program for $94,000; and tennis courts at Baumgardner Park, rest rooms at Central Park and a trail extension at Gregory O. Grounds Park, could get a total of $485,000.
Michael Peterman of the city's Planning Division said Blue Springs should expect around $220,000 in CDBG grants, including carryover from last year's funding.
Council Member Susan Pepper asked Peterman if there is a deadline for the city to spend the CDBG funds. Peterman replied is there no deadline per se, but the maximum the city can use is 1.5 times the amount of the most recent CDBG fund reward; in this case the 2013 CDBG funds.
Council Member Kent Edmondson said people are on a waiting list for the city's Minor Home Repair Program, which helps homeowners who do not have the financial means to respond to code violations at their single-family, residential property.
Peterman said his community development department has received either 18 or 19 applications from residents, but can only fund 11 of them given the standard of allocated CBDG funds being at $55,000 for the repair program, along with the maximum of $5,000 in repair funds apiece.
Mayor Carson Ross pointed out this is the first time a non-profit organization, such as Community Services League, has requested to be a recipient of CDBG grants. He suggested to the Council to ask CSL exactly what the the funding will be used for and to specify it in a written contract.
"The main thing is accountability," he said.
Ross added this may cause a trend from other community organizations seeking CBDG funding in the future and to ensure that the grant funding exclusively goes towards CSL's Blue Springs office.
City Administrator Eric Johnson said he will be meeting with a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (the federal agency that provides the CDBG program) coordinator from Kansas City this week to discuss how the city can meet criteria in order to be eligible to receive the funds.
No formalized decision took place by the Council as it was merely a discussion on how the CDBG funds should be allocated.
A written draft of the 2014-15 CDBG Action Plan is expected in July for public comment. After all comments from both the public and council are received, the final draft will be presented at the Aug. 4 Council meeting so it can be forwarded to HUD by the Aug. 15 deadline.