$500,000 in drainage relief to neighborhood
Grant will go to Madison’s Burney, Mapp, Pearl streets
By Stephanie Johns
Two Madison residents attended a recent public hearing for the $500,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The money will be used for drainage improvements on Burney, Mapp and Pearl streets in the Canaan neighborhood.
The city’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) applied for the grant in April and received it in September.
The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) administers the CDBG program with assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Also present was the CDBG Development Team, which consists of Debra Smith and Lori Pritchett, both of Allen-Smith Consulting, Brent Allen with the DCA, Jason Brown with Georgia Civil, Inc., Madison City Accountant Karen Guinn, and Madison City Planner Monica Callahan.
There is a $10,000 minimum cash contribution from the city that will be exceeded 17 times over, according to Smith. Smith said that money will be drawn down as it is expended.
Callahan said that the city maintains storm water out of its general fund.
No city council members live in the area benefitting from the current CDBG grant but Callahan said that full disclosure prompted her to clarify that while Councilman Fred Perriman does live in the Urban Redevelopment Area (URA), he does not live in the CDBG storm water area.
Brown explained that Whitehall is part of a natural ridge where water either flows off along the north or the south.
“Whitehall is a drainage divide,” he said, adding that improvements will redirect storm water to the creek basin. “No storm water will be released onto private property.”
He added that the depth of standing water after a rain might lead to hydroplaning, the water damages homes, and it also causes environmental erosion.
Smith said that this project involved door-to-door surveys and identified 226 persons in the area, 210 of whom have low to moderate incomes. She added that HUD establishes the “low” and “moderate” limits.
Callahan said that this project will run concurrently with the Gilmore house project on Burney Street.
“We’re trying to set up programs, services, and infrastructure,” she said.
Smith said their 24-month time period expires September 2014.
“Drainage is like renovating a house,” Smith said. “You go in and never know what you’ll find.”
Even though no housing is involved the city still is required to post “Fair Housing” documents for public viewing. They also will have to post “Section 3,” which lists the closest technical colleges and workforce programs.
Smith said there will be opportunities for local people to work and added that contractors are “strongly encouraged” to hire local people first.
“This will be publically bid,” she said. “Hopefully – there’s no guarantee – they will hire local folks.”
One resident, Michael Ross, asked about improvements along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. He shared that when it rains the water flows down MLK.
Smith said that this CDBG project will improve the streets he drives through and explained that the streets with the “worst needs” were chosen.
She added that they did door-to-door surveys and collected stories associated with the storm water situation.
City employees took photos during downpours to document the water damage.
Allen noted that the photos were “pretty significant.”
Photos showed what looked like streams running across yards, small ponds forming in yards, portions of streets underwater, and damage to homes that included loosened exterior siding as well as interior water damage.
Callahan suggested that Ross take photographs and write down dates to document water damage where he lives.
Ross asked about getting a mapping picture similar to what was shared at the meeting to help keep records.
Callahan replied that this was a very good idea and that this might be included in the November Town Hall meeting with Perriman and Councilman Michael Naples. Details of this meeting will be forthcoming.
Ross then thanked the Development Team for their work.
“Thank you all very much for everything,” he said. “Keep up the good work.”
Printed in the November 1, 2012 edition.