Not only are building renovations cleaning up the look of downtown Amery; the city is hopeful that a grant application will provide money to be the icing on the cake of the downtown revitalization. The City of Amery is in the process of applying for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The grant money if awarded to the city is to go toward the cost of improving, the curbs, sidewalks and parking spaces along Keller.
The city is working with Dave Rasmussen, senior planner and office manager at MSA Professional Services. Rasmussen has assisted the city step by step with the actions needing to be taken to increase the probability of receiving the grant.
CGBG is a flexible program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs. It is one of the longest running programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). CDBG programs differ from categorical grants made for specific purposes. They are largely used at the discretion of local governments. CDBG is an important tool for helping local governments tackle serious challenges facing their communities.
Mayor Paul Isakson said to get the project started, City Hall sent out letters to Amery residents in early January that contained a wage survey. Once letters were sent back to the city and results were tabulated it was discovered the average wage of people living within city limits was 53.1 percent low to moderate income (LMI). If the LMI had been less than 50 percent, the next step would have been to look at the income of residents in each neighborhood and apply for grants to be used in qualifying areas. Because the income average qualified citywide, a grant could be applied for to use anywhere in the City of Amery. “We tried to decide where the money could best be used. What we came up with was to replace water and sewer down main street, with new sidewalks from Hyland to Broadway,” said Isakson.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) is slated to redo Keller Avenue in 2020. “If we can obtain the grant, start the engineering and get everything completed in a timely manner by starting next April and finishing by August, it will give the DOT time to come in and do the other two parts of the overlay and save them money,” Isakson said.
The annual CDBG appropriation is allocated between States and local jurisdictions called “non-entitlement” and “entitlement” communities. Entitlement communities are made up of metropolitan cities with populations of at least 50,000; and qualified urban counties with a population of 200,000 or more. States distribute CDBG funds to non-entitlement localities not qualified as entitlement communities.
HUD determines the amount of each grant by using a formula comprised of several measures of community need.
Isakson said the city has its ducks in a row and he feels confident about Amery meeting the criteria and scoring high in the points based system used to determine eligibility. He said the photos have been taken of areas that flood in town to attach to the application. A line of credit was obtained from Bremer Bank for the 2 million dollar project. The CDBG would cover 1 million dollars of that expense.
The recipients of the grant will be announced July 19.