Archive for Thursday, May 26, 2005

Grant money earmarked for City Hall upgrades

May 26, 2005

The De Soto City Council agreed last Thursday to use next year's anticipated $100,000 Community Development Block Grant for enhancements at the Community Center and the new swimming pool, which is to open in May 2006.

The decision was made after a short public hearing on how the 2006 grant should be spent attracted no citizen response. With that, it was left to the Council to decide how best to spend the money and any local match the city contributes.

The city chose the Community Center/pool improvements over four other possibilities suggested by city staff. Those projects were:

  • Improvements to downtown sidewalks roughly estimated to cost $152,000.
  • Resurfacing a mile of city streets for $119,000.
  • Extending Golden Lane from De Meadows to Lexington Avenue.
  • Developing additional parkland, which could include a shelter and other amenities at the planned park near the intersection of Commerce Drive and Lexington Avenue.

The list of improvements at the Community Center/pool site would include providing an asphalt cap to the parking lot to be built west of the Community Center, constructing 8-foot sidewalks from the pool to Lexington Avenue and 84th Street and building a stand-alone shelter long planned for behind City Hall.

Money for the $3.6 million pool bond will pay for the parking lot's base preparation and curbs and gutters. Its future surface was the subject of a Council discussion earlier in May.

As part of the cuts needed to get the pool's construction within budget while providing a $75,000 contingency fund, a pool committee of city staffers, Council members, park board members and residents recommended saving $30,000 by paving the parking lot with a double coat of chip and seal.

That idea wasn't popular with a number of Council members, who hoped enough would be available from the contingency fund to add an asphalt cap.

Using CDBG funds to pave the parking lot, which it was agreed would be used by those attending Community Center events as pool customers, would free up the use of contingency funds for the family and tot slides that also fell victim to cost-saving measures.

One hiccup in the plan is the possibility that Congress will substantially alter the CDBG program, slashing funding and changing the way the program is administrated. Congressman Dennis Moore had a press conference in March at which a bi-partisan group of 3rd Congressional District municipal and county leaders joined him in support of the program.

The administration's proposed changes and the funding level for the 2006 CDBG program was "still up in the air," Moore's deputy communication's director Rebecca Black said. They were part of an appropriations package of the next fiscal year that was still before Congress, she said.

No such concern hangs over this year's CDBG funding, which the city will use to extend the sidewalk along the east side of Lexington Avenue from Commerce Drive to the vicinity of Lexington Trails Middle School. The site of a crosswalk across Lexington Avenue has been a point of discussion between the city and USD 232 officials, with district representatives favoring a crossing north of the west Y.

The consensus of the Council last Thursday was to place the crosswalk south of the Y at the Penner Avenue turn lane, which will save the expense of manning two crosswalks.

With the elimination of a once-planned pedestrian tunnel, the project's cost was $75,000, Brungardt said.

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