Just like last year, one project was debated heavily during the Blue Springs City Council’s discussion of how to use the 2013-14 Community Development Block Grant funds.



“I have certainly supported using CDBG funds, HUD fund for public infrastructure improvements such as sidewalks, street lights, improvements to the community,” Council Member Ron Fowler said. “But when you cross that line from investing in public infrastructure into private, when you do it for private business, I think that’s a threshold where we keep the bar high.”

Just like last year, one project was debated heavily during the Blue Springs City Council’s discussion of how to use the 2013-14 Community Development Block Grant funds.

“I have certainly supported using CDBG funds, HUD fund for public infrastructure improvements such as sidewalks, street lights, improvements to the community,” Council Member Ron Fowler said. “But when you cross that line from investing in public infrastructure into private, when you do it for private business, I think that’s a threshold where we keep the bar high.”

The council discussed the proposed and planned projects for the city’s annual allocation of CDBG funds Monday.

The CDBG program provides communities in the United States with funds for a variety of projects. This includes improving housing for low-income people, disaster recovery assistance and neighborhood stabilization. Another aspect is the Preserving America initiative, which focuses on historic preservation and heritage tourism.

The plan, which is estimated at more than $200,000, would be split among six projects – $50,000 for the Downtown Facade Grant Program; $50,000 for parks projects; $60,000 for the Minor Home Repair Project; $39,000 for the First Time Home Buyers Program; $5,000 for Downtown Alive!; and $6,150 for CDBG administration funds.

The Minor Home Repair Program, Downtown Alive! and the First Time Home Buyers Program are a continuation of established programs. The Parks Department is currently working to identify projects within the city’s park system that can benefit low to moderate income neighborhoods. One of those being considered is updating the playground equipment and playground surface at Blue Springs Park.

However, just as last year, the project that received the most discussion was the Downtown Facade Grant Program. The program provides resources to help improve the aesthetic character of buildings in downtown Blue Springs. This is a matching grant program, which means the business will have to provide an equal amount of funding to complete their requested project.

During the 2012-13 CDBG cycle, the funding went to America’s Community Bank, 1100 W. Main St. Because of the scope of the project, $100,000 was allocated. The amount of funding for the program has been cut in half in the 2013-14 proposal.

Several council members expressed concern over giving privately-owned businesses funds to improve their facades rather than investing that money into projects that would directly impact low to moderate income families.

Scott Allen, community development director, said because downtown is in the middle of the city’s low to moderate income area, funds can be used to improve those buildings. The thought is, he said, is that improving the infrastructure and facades of downtown will benefit the neighborhood by increasing property values and improving the quality of life.

Eric Johnson, Blue Springs city manager, said that staff is simply implementing the plans approved by the City Council.

“If the council chooses to reallocate or reprioritize where the funds go, we will adjust,” he said. “Right now, staff is implementing the plans accordingly.”

The HUD action plan must be submitted by Aug. 15. The city will receive its allocated funding in October.