FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A change in the way the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) calculates a timeliness ratio (what it means to use grant money in a timely manner) has required the City’s Planning and Development Department to reallocate $4.05 million of HUD funds the City uses to run a commercial loan program. The loan program was started by the City using Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) from HUD and has made more than 230 small-business and facade-improvement loans.
The City was notified May 17, 2017 it was not in compliance with the new interpretation of HUD rules and was given a March 31, 2018 deadline to spend the money.
On June 12, 2017, City Council approved a plan which outlined the list of "shovel-ready" priority project suggestions assembled by City staff. Projects were selected using HUD’s strict criteria that includes meeting national objectives for the program, including benefiting low-to-moderate income people and eliminating slum and blight. The evaluation team also had the goal of funding high-impact and/or transformational projects, making sure projects were geographically dispersed and taking into account staff resources and other implementation issues.
The following is the list of "Tier I" top priority projects provided to HUD for approval and their estimated costs (costs updated September 2017):
- College Street streetscape, $750,000
- Eden Village affordable housing, $100,000
- Jordan Creek stormwater improvements, $1.5 million
- Meador Park playground improvements, $130,000
- Nichols Park playground improvements, $295,000
- Loan for Springfield Affordable Housing Center land acquisition, $1 million
- Tom Watkins park restrooms and support facility, $200,000
- Trail development from Cruse Dog Park to Ewing Park, $25,000
- Cooper Park playground improvements, $100,000.
The City also identified other lower-priority projects that could be funded if any of the Tier 1 projects are not able to be completed before the March 31, 2018 deadline.
Earlier this summer, Missouri State University, the Springfield Business Development Corporation and The Vecino Group announced a potential development project in the IDEA Commons. The proposed development is adjacent to Jordan Creek in an area where the City had proposed that a portion of Jordan Creek could be daylighted using the reallocated HUD funds as a pilot stormwater improvement project. As staff worked with Olsson & Associates on preliminary design work, it has become apparent that this complex project cannot be completed within the required timeframe. In addition, staff recently received a letter from Mat Burton, president of public private partnerships for The Vecino Group, that recommends that the Jordan Creek stormwater improvements project be removed from funding consideration at this time. In his letter, Burton expresses concern over the timeframe.
“Through our early exploration with Olsson Associates, the engineering firm engaged by the City to study the effort, it has become clear that the complexity and challenges involved with such a substantial undertaking are even greater than we had originally imagined,” Burton said.
Burton suggested the City consider reallocating the funds to another worthy project, rather than risk their loss and subsequent benefit to the community.
City Stormwater division staff also prepared a report that agrees with Burton’s conclusion. City staff subsequently reviewed the list of approved Tier II projects for the ability to complete them within the budgeted timeframe. A substitute Council bill to add these projects to the annual Capital Improvements Program is expected to be considered at the Oct. 16 City Council meeting.
Tier II projects
- 1600 Block of East Central Street Sidewalk (Zone 2) - $25,000
- Commercial Street Sidewalk (Zone 1)- $25,000
- Grand Street Sidewalk (Zone 1) - $30,000
- Jefferson Avenue Sidewalk (Zone 1) - $25,000
- Kansas Expressway Sidewalk (Zone 1) - $43,400
- Turner Street Sidewalk (Zone 1) - $35,000
- 1300 Block North West Avenue Sidewalk (Zone 1)- $1,000
- Cooper Park PH II Improvements (Zone 2) - $40,000
- Jenny Lincoln Park PH I Park Restoration (Zone 3) - $45,000
- Meador Park PH II Restoration (Zone 4) - $335,000
- Nichols Park PH II Park Restoration (Zone 1) - $225,000
- Tom Watkins Park PH II Park Restoration (Zone 1) - $495,000.
About Jordan Creek through downtown Springfield
In the 1920s or 1930s, Jordan Creek was diverted to flow underground through concrete box culverts to try to mitigate flooding. “Daylighting” Jordan Creek is a conversation that originated during the City’s Vision 20/20 comprehensive planning process and was furthered by studies funded by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Daylighting the creek will address stormwater and flooding concerns, as well as provide a water amenity.
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For more information, contact Director of Planning & Development Mary Lilly Smith at 417-864-1094 or Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement Cora Scott at 417-380-3352.