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City Applying For $3 Million Community Development Block Grant To Help Build New Senior Citizens Center

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Hearing Slated Jan. 11 For Public Comments To Discuss Submission Of Grant Application

The City of Sulphur Springs plans to ask for a $3 million Community Development Block Grant to help build a new senior citizens center, which is expected to cost considerably more than originally budgeted due to continued increases in construction materials.

In December 2021, Sulphur Springs City Council approved KSBR to work with city officials to complete the grant application to help fund costs of constructing the new senior citizens activity center, at that point budgeted at about $3 million.

On Jan. 4, 2022, the City Council amended Resolution No. 1284 authorizing the submission of a Community Development Block Grant CARES Act grant application to Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for the Community Resiliency Program and authorizing the city manager to represent the city in all matters related to the city’s potential participation in the grant program. City staff said as indicated in a prior meeting, they were recommending an update in the resolution to include the proposed amount the city anticipates applying for.

Oak Avenue property where a new senior citizens center will be constructed

In December, city staff anticipated asking for $1.5 million in grant funding, to double the amount of funding available for the project, which would not only make up for increases in construction costs over the last year. The additional funding would allow the city to expand the new senior center to about 11,000-square feet to better serve and meet the needs of those utilizing the facility.

In January, Sulphur Springs Finance Director/Assistant City Manager Lesa Smith reported that the most recent estimates to construct the new senior center to be much higher even than predicted previously. In December, city officials estimated the entire project would cost about $3 million.

Senior Citizens Center sign for the current building

Sulphur Springs Community Development Director/Assistant City Manager Tory Niewiadomski noted that Don Roundtree, who has served as a manager for the Pacific Park project, has been helping prepare estimates for construction of the new senior citizens center, but without a crystal ball to see what material prices will be in April, it’s hard to achieve a very accurate estimate.

“Just for the structure itself, to get the building up and to get the building finished – all the permanent structures, the estimate came in around $3,600,000 for the 11,000-square foot building,” Smith noted.

A $4.2-$4.3 million estimate is the best and latest figures based on current inflation and pricing, the city staff members reported.

Thus, city officials anticipate applying for $3 million from TDHCA’s Community Resiliency program. The grant won’t apply to anything in the building that’s not permanent, such as furnishings. The city will use the 2020 bond funding and any other funds allocated for the project to apply toward the remaining costs.

Part of the grant process is to a hold public hearing to discuss the submission of a Community Development Block Grant – Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) Community Resiliency Program Pre-Application to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. That meeting will be held next Tuesday.

Community members, agencies, groups and individuals are invited and encouraged to attend the public hearing to be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, in the Council Chambers inside Sulphur Springs Municipal Building (city hall), 201 North Davis St. Those attending will be able to hear information about the grant application and planned project and to voice questions or comments they may have about the senior center project during the public hearing.

Those who will be unable to the Jan. 11 public hearing may submit written comments on the project until 6 p.m. Jan. 11 to Tory Niewiadomski at [email protected].

Current senior citizens center building

The CDBG-CV Entitlement Program is designed to provide rural communities with funds to prepare for, prevent, or respond to the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. The activities must be primarily for the benefit of low-income and moderate-income residents and align with one of the three national objectives for HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program.

The application will indicate the City of Sulphur Springs is seeking “funds to support Sulphur Spring’s Senior Citizens Center, specifically construction of a new facility to enhance numerous services for seniors including meal preparation, emergency housing and pandemic preparation and response. These areas have already been certified to meet the HUD definition for Area Benefit for low- and moderate- income (LMI) persons. Sulphur Springs is requesting funding from TDHCA in the amount of $3,000,000.”

The grant application must be submitted by 5 p.m. Jan. 19 in order to meet the deadline for consideration. Award notifications are expected to be made around March 10, 2022, with grant contracts to start five days later.

Author: Faith Huffman

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