Robertsdale city officials are hoping this will finally be the year to receive a state grant to pay for some improvements to a part of the city’s sewer system.
“This will be the fourth year we’ve applied for this grant,” city engineer Greg Smith said.
The city is seeking a $450,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) for some rehab on existing sewer lines and other improvements. It’s a Community Development Block Grant in a program through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The city is required to provide a 10-percent match, so the entire project will be for about $495,000, if granted.
“They basically go in and score each application,” Smith said. “Obviously, they’ve only got X amount of dollars each year to fund it. They score them for the category that we fall into, which is the large city and wherever they cut it off.”
Though rejected the previous three years, Smith said each succeeding year the city’s chance for a successful application increases.
“After your third year, you get basically bonus points on your application, so being diligent I guess pays off kind of like the squeaky wheel,” Smith said. “The past two years we’ve just been right at the cut-off line so we’re hoping these bonus points will get us up above that line so we’ll be funded this year.”
There’s an economic component as well, Smith said, based on the properties in the area proposed for the improvements.
“It has to do with a lot of things, not just the need,” Smith said. “It has to do with what they call the beneficiaries, which are the adjacent property owners.”
Applications are scored based on the percentage of those properties that are considered low- to moderate-income areas.
“It could be that you didn’t score well just because you didn’t have a high enough percentage of beneficiaries that were in the low- to moderate-income range,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of factors that play into it that could make you score better or worse depending on the demographics of the area that you are working in.”
Should the grant come through, Smith said the work would be done on lines west of city hall along Pennsylvania and Nebraska streets.
“It’s specifically for sewer system rehabilitation, which we would basically go in and would line our existing sewer lines and manholes,” Smith said. “That’s to eliminate infiltration into the system by groundwater. Also, there’s a drainage element to that, too, to make some drainage improvements in those areas as well like piping some ditches and doing some other drainage improvements in that area of the grant.”
Robertsdale last received a similar grant in 2012 and that work was completed in 2014.
“Once that project was completed in 2014, we began applying for another grant the following year, 2015, and have been applying each year since then,” Mayor Charles Murphy said. The city expects word on whether or not the grant will be awarded this fall.
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