Council discusses road improvement plans

At city council's most recent budget meeting, Tom Farley, St. Marys resident and former city councilman, addressed council members regarding a $1 million loan they recently approved for paving projects. Farley questioned whether council members would be able to lower the millage for the city's 2011 budget if they postponed the paving project. Council members indicated they believe that many of the road issues need to be addressed now, or else their conditions will continue to deteriorate and it will end up costing more money to repair them in the future. "Given the fact that over the years there was little monies appropriated for road repairs, we are now faced with either fix them or lose them," said Bob Roberts, city councilman. Roberts explained that the city is working on putting together a list of roads that will be fixed with the funds, but that list is not yet finalized. "We've got a proposed list. It's not final because we're trying to put the bid prices for the job that we just completed into real terms as to how many miles we can get out of it so a complete list is not finalized," Roberts said. He did note that Charles and George streets, which are both in need of repair, will not be on the list because a total reconstruction of those roadways is needed. "You would spend [all of the $1 million] right there [on those roads]," Roberts said. Council members instead indicated that the hope is that Charles and George streets will qualify for Community Development Block Grant funding in order to be repaired. According to Tina Gradizzi, community and economic development coordinator, CDBG funding can be used for street improvements if the roads meet one of three objectives required by the CDBG Program: low/moderate-income area, slum/blighted area or urgent needs. "The city issues income surveys to residents in order to qualify a street as a low/moderate-income area, which is the objective the city uses to qualify street improvements," Gradizzi said. "We will also utilize the results from the 2010 Census to hopefully qualify future projects."Mike Mullaney, public works director, remarked that the lower portion of Charles Street currently qualifies for CDBG funding, as does Mertz Avenue. Council members indicated that 2011 CDBG funding could potentially be used for the road repairs. For more information on this story, see the November 11th edition of The Daily Press.