City Must Spend $4 Million Grant Before April

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The city of Springfield has a big federal grant it needs to spend on a short deadline; more than $4 million by the end of March 2018.

Because the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development changed the way it defines timeliness, the city now has less than six months to spend it on low-to-moderate income areas. Not only must the projects be slated by the end of March, construction needs to be completed, bills need to be paid and receipts turned in.

Mary Lilly Smith, the director of Planning and Development for the City of Springfield, says it’s not a question of “if.”

“We will spend the money,” Smith said.

Instead, it’s a question of “how.” And to that, everyone has their own idea.

Katherine Payne, a member of Cruse Dog Park, joked with KOLR10.

“They could send me some,” Payne said.

She will most likely benefit from the grant, as the city plans to connect the trail near the dog park southwest to Ewing Park.
    
“Ewing Park is really busy in the summer, so I think that’d be a good idea,” Payne said.

The city has divided plans to spend the grant into two categories, Tier I being top priority. Its website says some plans include:

  • 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.

It also explains that Tier II projects, which are lower priority, will be funded if any of the Tier I projects can’t be completed on time:

  • 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.

Smith says preliminary engineering already determined that the $1.5 million project on the list can’t possibly be done by March 31.

“We will be removing Jordan Creek daylighting from Tier I and then moving some Tier II projects up,” Smith said.

Winter weather is also a concern. Smith says, to deal with that, she’s asking for a little luck and a lot of planning.

“Because we’re going into the winter months, we’re going to have to use concrete instead of asphalt on streetscape projects and trail projects and that has increased our cost some,” Smith said.

The city already has the money, so if it doesn’t meet the March 31 deadline, it wouldn’t have to give any money back. It could, however, negatively affect future grants through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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