Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hailey goes after grants for River Street

City leaders discuss bond for matching funds

Express Staff Writer

Hailey officials are hoping to acquire two federal grants to upgrade portions of River Street, but the city would have to come up with at least $124,000 in matching funds.

City leaders are preparing to go to voters for a bond and a tax increase to raise matching funds for such large capital improvement projects.

"We need to go to a general obligation bond or some other means to leverage these things," said Councilman Don Keirn at a City Council meeting on Monday, Dec. 19.

Council Chair Fritz Haemmerle suggested waiting for a community survey to be returned early next year before discussing further the prospect of public fundraising.

"We're going to get some ideas about our citizens' tolerance for good or bad streets," Haemmerle said.

The council authorized City Administrator Heather Dawson to submit an application for a $620,000 Federal Highways Administration grant, which could be added to a pending $500,000 Department of Commerce grant that the city hopes to use to rebuild sections of River Street.

If the application is successful, the grant would be awarded in May.

The scope of the River Street project was determined after a series of public workshops last year, based on receipt of a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Idaho Department of Commerce. But because the city was gearing up for a much larger and more expensive project on Woodside Boulevard, the grant was returned.

Grant Administrator Tracy Anderson said the Department of Commerce has told the city that it could instead postpone the grant.

"They said we could wait until our financial picture is more clear," Anderson said.

The $1.24 million River Street upgrade area would include three city blocks from Croy Street to Galena Street, and some work on side streets. It would include street resurfacing and parking spaces, sidewalks, bike lanes, drainage structures, low-water landscaping with drip irrigation and intersection lighting.

One new bus shelter is included, as well as bicycle racks, trash receptacles and a number of artist-designed benches.

To acquire the $620,000 grant, the city would have to raise $124,000 in matching funds, possibly with a bond or some other method.

"We would need public involvement up front," said Public Works Director Tom Hellen.

Tony Evans:

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