It would simply be wrong for the City to reallocate $30,000.00 of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG years 2001 - 2007) funds for the North Bank Street pedestrian walkway project.
The project does not clearly fit any of the three national objectives necessary to be eligible for CDBG funding (as noted by Ed Gepner to Council on September 13, 2007 5min 53 second 691kb Mp3). The project is NOT in response to a public safety need that has developed within 90 days of the request. The project does not meet the requirements of area or “spot” blight redevelopment. And the project will not meet the requirement “that at least 51% of the people benefiting from the project are low and moderate income people.” (Gepner 09/13/07).
“The CDBG entitlement program allocates annual grants to larger cities and urban counties to develop viable communities by providing decent housing, a suitable living environment, and opportunities to expand economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.” (Taken from the HUD CDBG website http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/communitydevelopment/programs/)
As good as this project may seem to anyone. It does not meet the national objectives to be funded though the highly competitive CDBG process.
Our city is far from being short on need. The fact that the entire city qualifies as “low-mod” is a sobering reminder of just how much need we have. This project immediately benefits people with the resources and finances to either own buildings in downtown Easton or to own businesses in downtown Easton. The street is a mere alley that is less than one tenth of a square mile in a city of 4.2 square miles (0.1 mile is 2.38% of 4.2 miles). To spend $30,000.00 of the $315,000.00 reallocation (~10%) on this project like stealing fro 98% of the city.
We can not allow our special interest and self serving selfishness rule. If the street's safety is truly the issue, close it-- by all means. Just find the money elsewhere. We're pretty sure that 4 to 6 poles will cost us a lot less than $30,000.00.