The Arizona Department of Housing rejected Pinetop-Lakeside’s first choice for a project for their Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) monies.
In late January, the council approved a project to replace infrastructure at the Veteran’s Village and Walking Down Ranch. But the facility in Pinetop-Lakeside posed too many problems for the grant funding to be administered for this property, and the department declined to fund it.
The money available will now be directed toward the town’s second choice, the Johnson Drive project by the Larson Library and Senior Center which will cost more than $1 million to complete. It involves construction of sidewalks, drainage, pavement and parking. The grant is for about $477,000.
In a Jan. 24 memo sent to the town concerning the CDBG funding from contract Grant Administrator, Mary French-Jones said that Daniel Boyle, Community Development and Revitalization (CD&R) program specialist, stated, “The Veteran’s Village sounds like a great idea and would certainly be a valuable asset to the community when finished, but the project is not ready for CDBG. Based on the information provided, the project is just not viable.” Boyle then listed some of his concerns:
1. Based on the director’s estimate, the project is over $1 million short of funding for completion with no other sources of funding. This project is speculative at this point.
2. The fixed cost to run this property would be significant and the assets are just not there to take on this large of a commitment.
3. The buildings are more than 50 years old and in a historic district. Making repairs to them would be difficult or even impractical because of historic preservation.
Mr. Boyle then stated that “It is not too late to advance the Johnson Drive project. The town will not lose FY 2018 funding.”
Johnson Drive documents were submitted to ADOH for review on Jan. 24, 2018.
“It is undeniable that Veterans Village-Lakeside project is appreciated and welcomed by the community and town. That the endeavors and diligence of Walking Down Ranch, Inc. to meet the objectives set forth by the town and ADOH and Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) criteria is admirable. The town council’s desire to fund this worthwhile project was voiced at the meeting, but at this point in time, Veteran’s Village-Lakeside is not considered an eligible candidate based on the variables cited…(I)f Veteran’s Village-Lakeside is advanced as the number one application it would not be funded, our application to the Northern Arizona Council of Governments (NACOG) is due in April and the town will need to advance an application that will receive funding and meets all of ADOH’s requirements.”
Town Manager Keith Johnson confirmed the town will go forward with their plan to apply the funding to Johnson Drive, which was their backup choice on the grant, given all application timelines are met.