Green Cove to engage in community development block grant

Program provides assistance to low-to-moderate income residents

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GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The city is engaging in a community development block grant with the primary purpose of providing assistance to residents who fall into the low-to-moderate household income range.

According to the 2010 census, about 43% of Green Cove Springs residents fall into that targeted range.

The grant has four different components. The first is the housing rehabilitation component. The second is the neighborhood revitalization component. The third is the commercial revitalization and the fourth is the economic rehabilitation component.

City Planning and Zoning Director Mike Daniels presented the Community Block Grant Development Application to the city council at a public hearing before last week’s council meeting. Green Cove Springs is eligible for up to $700,000 in the areas of neighborhood and commercial revitalization along with housing rehabilitation. For economic development, there is a 50-50 match that could yield $1.4 million in grant funding.

One of the biggest concerns for any improvement efforts in a locale is that the residents wonder: “Is this going to cost us anything?”

“It won’t cost the city anything in terms of their budget, and it certainly won't cost the average resident anything,” said Daniels.

One of the ways in which the block grant could help the city is through stormwater system improvement. This is important although underappreciated aspect of city maintenance.

“That’s an area that the city can look at and say we can make improvements using some of the CDBG [community development block grant] money,” Daniels said.

“That’s a real concern from a life safety standpoint. A lot of the areas that we need stormwater improvement are in the core city, which will qualify with the CDBG requirements. We can also use the money to add new sidewalks around the schools and other components to our park system, whether it be Spring Park or the Augusta Savage park.”

At this point, the block grant project is still in the planning process to identify the main focus. Comments have been received through the public process.

It hasn’t been decided which of the four categories will be engaged, nor what the specific project will be. Once those decisions are made, the next step would be to allocate the funding for a particular improvement.

“We’ve got a number of ideas about potential projects,” said Daniels.

There will be another public hearing with the City Council on Sept. 15, where recommendations will be presented. The council will then decide whether to approve the proposal by staff or suggest any changes or improvements.

“I think it’s a very positive grant,” Daniels said. “It will make a very impactful difference in the community and especially in the areas of the community where in many places they have neglected in the past, and critical improvements are needed.”

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