The Butler County commissioners have approved 26 federally funded grant projects totalling almost $1.8 million, including several paving and infrastructure jobs and down-payment housing assistance in low- to moderate-income areas.
The largest chunk of Community Development Block Grant funding will go to pave almost all of the roads in the defunct village of Somerville. Milford Twp. Road Superintendent Dan Burkholder said officials have been trying with difficulty to fix the “basically gravel” roads in Somerville since the village dissolved in 2016. The $190,000 in CDBG money will help the township get back on track with its own paving.
“It will be a tremendous help,” Burkholder said. “They weren’t a whole lot better than gravel roads down there. They were horrible. It’s huge. Instead of just trying to patch here and there and not getting any of the roads done right, this will correct that.”
Another large allocation of funds sparked an argument among the commissioners last week when commissioners Don Dixon and T.C. Rogers moved $150,000 penciled in for a homeless crisis drop-off center to the Butler County Care Facility parking lot. They said they need much more information about the drop-off center before moving forward.
Commissioner Cindy Carpenter voted against putting the money into the parking lot.
“Upgrading the parking lot does not take the homeless people off the street,” she said.
The whole board plans to have a meeting about the homeless center with all stakeholders soon, and Carpenter is already a member of the group that has been meeting to address the homeless problem. Dixon and Rogers said they could redirect the parking lot money to the homeless project later if they choose.
The village of New Miami will receive $57,000 for a water tower replacement to match Ohio Public Works funding. Shawn Campbell, an engineer for the village, said the total cost to replace the old water tower on West Elkton Road is $570,000.
“It’s reached its useful life, it’s over 60 years old,” Campbell said. “We had it inspected a couple years ago, and it’s showing wear. Now we’re going to put in an appropriately sized storage tank and also improve water pressure.”
The village received $65,000 in CDBG money in 2017 that allowed officials to leverage a $585,000 OPWC grant to improve the water system. Four years ago, the county approved $40,000 in CDBG funds to pay for a valve for the village’s $1 million water tower that sat dormant for years.
The county is expecting to receive about $1.1 million in Community Development Block Grant funds this year from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and $645,000 in HOME Investment Partnerships Program monies. Requests totalled $4 million and came in from 40 communities and entities.
The largest HOME grant will go to the city of Middletown for $193,848 in down payment assistance. Middletown does not have it’s own HOME program directly with HUD, so it partners with the county to get the funding.
Likewise, the cities of Fairfield and Oxford don’t directly get federal block grants, hence the $112,778 total for paving and sidewalk work on the commissioners’ list for Fairfield and another $112,778 total for Oxford for Americans with Disabilities (ADA) sidewalk ramp improvements and administration fees.
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