Housing Demolition A Priority For City Residents

Continuing to destroy unwanted, rundown houses is one thing city residents want done with Community Development Block Grant funding.

On Thursday, the city’s Development Department hosted a public hearing to give residents a chance to discuss what they would like done with Community Development Block Grant and HOME funding. Information provided during the public hearing will be used in the city’s 2014 action plan that will be given to U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department.

“We are looking for input from the community for possible projects,” DeJoy said.

DeJoy said projects done in the past include housing demolitions, wheelchair ramps, handicap accessibility, facade repairs and for street lights. About 20 people attended the public hearing. One item discussed several times was the issue of tearing down abandoned houses. One specific example was of a house on Main Street near eighth street in Ward 3.

“Demolition is a priority,” DeJoy said.

DeJoy said the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department has three goals for block grant funding. One is to prevent or eliminate slums or blight, secondly to benefit low-to-moderate-income residents and finally to meet a particular urgent need for the municipality.

The federal Community Development Block Grant program stipulates that at least 70 percent of funding must be used for low-to-moderate-income benefit activities and no more than 30 percent of funds can be used for slums and blighted areas. Activities that are ineligible include the development of buildings for the general conduct of government, political activities, equipment purchases and general operating, maintenance and salary expenses of local governments.

Another issue discussed during the public hearing was to improve sidewalks. One person said sidewalks should be improved to make it safer for residents to walk through the city. She said preventing accidents caused by broken sidewalks is a safety concern that should be addressed. Another person said making a walking and biking pathway between Jamestown Community College and the downtown area should be a priority.

Another area of concern are the gateways into the city. Residents said the entryways into the city should be improved to be more aesthetically pleasing. An example was to take advantage of the beauty of Lakeview Cemetery on North Main Street. Also, better signage around Jamestown and on the outside of the city to direct people to local attractions. Other issues discussed included better access to Chadakoin Park with people crossing Washington Street, improvement to streets around the park and better restrooms at the park; a rehabilitation program to eliminate lead paint that could lead to lead poisoning in older city houses; and money to support low-income families with home improvements.

The Development Department will now create a 2014 action plan. Then there will be another public hearing held with City Council to review the action plan. City officials do not know how much funding they will receive in Community Development Block Grant and HOME Funding for this year. In 2013, the city received $1,070,178 in Community Development Block Grant money and $274,227 in HOME funding.

Target areas for this year’s block grant money includes the Bush and Bowen streets; McKinley Avenue and Colfax Street; and the North Side Pride region which includes Grant, Liberty, Lincoln, Falconer, East Eight, East Seventh, and north side of East Sixth streets and Lakeview Avenue.