Development area ID’d for block grant application

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SANDPOINT — As a condition of applying for a $500,000 community development block grant to fund lighting on Cedar Street and much of First Avenue, city officials must establish a redevelopment area.

"It's establishing a particular area that meets the minimum criteria of eligibility for a CDBG grant," said City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton during Wednesday's City Council meeting. "... It's not an assessment in the form of the BID assessment that we have done or some other financial assessment, it's simply an assessment that this particular area that we have designated for redevelopment does meet the criteria of eligibility for the grant."

Councilman Stephen Snedden said he was concerned that the language was similar to other funding mechanisms, such as urban renewal and wondered if it was creating some sort of district.

"It's not creating a taxing district or anything of that nature," said Sean Scoggin, the city's grant administrator.

The area was determined eligible for redevelopment as required for the application process because of identified "slum and blight," which can include deterioration in sidewalks, damage to curbs, streets and sidewalks that are below standard due to width, Stapleton said.

"Slum and blight can be as easy as there is some cracking in front of a business, and that qualifies the whole block as slum and blight," Scoggin said.

According to the resolution for the redevelopment area, "slum and blight" was detected in 161,309 feet of that area has substandard lighting, as it does not meet the standards and requirements outlined in the city's "Downtown Streets Plan and Design Guide." Also, 45,780 linear feet of the area's sidewalks are substandard in that they are 12-feet or less, while the plan and design guide require a 16-foot standard.

After council members moved to change the word "district" to "area," they approved the resolution to establish the redevelopment area on Cedar and First.

The lighting is part of the city's downtown revitalization project which will resume in the spring. New pedestrian lights will be installed in two phases along Cedar Street from one-half a block east of Fifth Avenue to Bridge Street on First Avenue.  

Downtown revitalization construction costs over the next few years is estimated at $7,440,500. SURA will refund the city in payments through 2029 of an estimated $6,923,606, which leaves an unfunded balance of $516,894. Pursuing the CDB grant will help offset the unfunded balance, Stapleton said.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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