(St. Joseph,MO) A federal grant could bring upgrades to six area parks in St. Joseph.Monday the city council held a public hearing to considering amending the city’s five year Community Partnership Strategy and Consolidated Plan, a long range plan with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to include funding for parks and public housing.
Planning and Community Development Director Clint Thompson said the council will consider using Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to provide upgrades to six local parks and winterize housing units with the St. Joseph Housing Authority.
The grant would provide new playground equipment at Patee Park, College Hill Park, Mary Park, Hochman Park, Seitz Park, and Rest Square Park.
Parks and Recreation Director Chuck Kempf said the grant would allow the city to upgrade and replace old, worn-down equipment.
"All of what's left in all of those parks is very old. We don't even know in most of them what the age is, but I would suspect that it is probably at least 40 years old in each one of those parks,” Kempf said. “Some of the play equipment is deteriorated to the point that it's not all there anymore."
If approved the CDBG would cover upgrades to six of the seven parks, excluding Maple Leaf Park, slated for upgrades under the city’s next Capital Improvement Program (CIP) sales tax cycle, freeing up more funds for other community projects.
"The proposal for the use of the CGBD funds for parks equipment would allow the current community improvement tax dollars to be used for other projects potentially over the next five years," Thompson said.
Kempf said by fast tracking the park upgrades the city could get better parks for the same amount of money.
“This particular funding doesn’t do anything additional for us that we weren’t going to be able to accomplish with the CIP funds, it’s only going to allow us to do all of them quicker,” Kempf said. “If you are three or four years away with a playground, obviously there is some risk that the playground that you had in mind will end up being less, because of materials cost or installation costs going higher. The fact that these are going to happen much quicker, hopefully that means that our budgeted dollars will go farther.”
The change would also put money into wintering units at the St. Joseph Housing Authority.
"The property itself has not received updates since it was constructed,” Thompson said. "The doors themselves are a type of security issue plus the type of door that would be installed will help with weatherization to help protect the units from the cold and the heat in the summer as well."
Winterization for the doors at the Housing Authority will cost approximately $150,000 and upgrades at all six parks will cost approximately $400,000.
Thompson said both projects still have to go through environmental and historical surveys before work can begin, but he anticipates the work to begin in May. The city council will vote on changing the Community Partnership Strategy at their next meeting on January 28.
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