Monday, February 16, 2015

What you may not know: Week of February 16

The Appleton Common Council will meet in its regularly scheduled session on Wednesday, but before we get around to our normal business we have a special committee meeting to take care of:

Community & Economic Development Committee, Wednesday, 6:30 pm

The city recently received some good news from the federal government, as we were notified that our 2015 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) allocation will be $523,813, up over $20,000 from our $500,000 projection. On Wednesday the Community and Economic Development Committee will be asked to make a recommendation for the expenditure of the additional funds.

The funds will likely be divided among organizations that did not receive the full amount requested when their original applications were considered earlier this year. Those groups include:

  • Habitat for Humanity, which requested $96,000 and received $70,000.
  • Rebuilding Together, which requested $25,000 and received $10,000.
  • Homeless Connections (formerly known as Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley), which requested $15,000 and received $14,000.
  • Harbor House, which requested $25,000 and received $23,000.
  • STEP Industries, which requested $30,000 and received $20,000.
Additionally, due to a cap on the percentage of total allocations given to "public service activities," the final three organizations on the list above cannot be granted more than a combined $6,571 in addition to their existing allocations.

The committee's recommendation on Wednesday will start a process that includes a 30-day public comment period before final approval by the full council on April 1.

Once that meeting wraps up, our normally-scheduled council agenda includes the following:

Huntley Playground Neighborhood Grant

At their regularly-scheduled meeting last week the Community & Economic Development Committee voted 5-0 to recommend approval of a $70,000 neighborhood grant to the Huntley Elementary PTO to help with their project to improve the playground outside the school. As I mentioned last week, the area around Huntley is a pretty significant distance from most of our city parks, turning the school's playground into a highly-used de facto neighborhood park.

This project represents an excellent opportunity for community collaboration to improve this space: The Huntley PTO has already raised over $20,000 from private donations towards this project, the city has an opportunity to contribute grant money from our Community Development Block Grant funds and the Appleton Area School District will fill in some of the remaining funding gaps in addition to overseeing the purchasing and installation of new equipment and performing the maintenance to keep it functional and universally accessible. 

This kind of project is exactly the reason why our Neighborhood Grant program was created, and I'm looking forward to seeing it succeed.

Concrete Paving

Finally, our 2015 construction projects will take a step forward Wednesday night when council votes to award our concrete paving contract for the year to Michiels Corporation. This vote will likely not be controversial but I wanted to mention it because it includes a bit of good news: The city budgeted over $5.65 million to spend on concrete paving in 2015, but this contract carries a maximum value of slightly less than $5.2 million, including 15% set aside for contingencies. That contract number was lowered a bit by the removal of three streets the council opted to delay paving this year, but still represents a pretty significant savings over our expected cost.

You can see agendas for all of this week's meetings and the full schedule at the city's Legistar page.

Keeping you informed on issues that may impact you around the city is one of my primary goals as an alderman. Making the council's activity as accessible as possible to as many people as are interested is part of my goal to make it easier for more people to get involved with issues that matter to them.

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