Participation sought for CDBG meetings

MARIETTA — After no attendance at the first public meeting for federal Community Development Block Grant funding, local residents have limited chances to have their requests heard.

“We’ve just called it, nobody else obviously (knew about the meeting) either,” said Andy Coleman, city development director, on Monday after facing an empty community room at the Gilman United Methodist Church at 5:30 p.m.

But when asked if he would reschedule the first public meeting, the answer was quick.

“No, because we’ve fulfilled our requirement,” replied Coleman. “It was in (The Marietta Times). It’s required by law to be advertised within the newspaper.”

The advertised times of the remaining public meetings are for Monday and July 22 both at 5:30 p.m. in room 10 of the Armory, 241 Front St. This week’s unattended public meeting was the only separate venue specific to a city ward. But City Councilors Cassidi Shoaf and Geoff Schenkel have made public calls for more notice than the bare minimum requirement by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“Last year’s public input through things like Main Street West’s monthly meetings with residents added so much effectiveness to our CDBG work,” said Schenkel on Friday. “Without citizen-driven input, we wouldn’t have addressed ‘Lake Franklin’–that’s a big deal for the quality of life for Marietta residents.”

“Lake Franklin,” an area of Maple Street on the west side on the eastern edge of Franklin Street was colloquially named by residents after years of water retention on the brick street left hazardous conditions in both warm and cold seasons for pedestrians.

The area was addressed this year with CDBG recaptured funds from past unspent HUD monies after Schenkel advocated for the project, reiterating eight citizen requests for the hazard to be fixed.

To encourage public input this year, in advance of deadlines for the city to submit its CDBG request for 2020 funding, both council members are advocating for greater transparency.

“Andy (Coleman) confirmed there are two more public meetings with me, and I requested the administration make a Facebook post, too,” said Shoaf on Friday.

The city also has the opportunity to add notices of the meeting not only on the city website ticker but also on the website calendar and other places readily available to online users like social media accounts.

Council has the legal authority to legislate additional notification requirements as mentioned above to ensure greater government transparency as the fiscal oversight for the city.

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By the numbers:

The city of Marietta plans to request $402,000 for the 2020 Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city development department recommends those funds be used by the following:

* $133,400 for salaries and benefits.

* $40,000 for Community Action Bus Lines.

* $35,000 for the sidewalk repair program–down $5,000 from this year.

* $30,000 for ADA curb ramps.

* $25,000 for the city ADA Transition Plan, a new recommendation not previously funded.

* $15,000 for Marietta Main Street.

* $10,000 for Marietta Aquatic Center upgrades, down $10,000 from this year.

* $3,500 for police bicycle and foot patrols during festivals.

Housing program activities (down $9,000 from this year):

* $6,000 for Housing Program Administration.

* $30,000 for the emergency repair program, down $8,000 from this year.

* $25,000 for the Paint Marietta program.

* $2,500 for the fair housing board.

* $2,500 for code enforcement miscellaneous expenses.

Discretionary recommendation: $44,100, funds city administration recommends the legislative body consider for small projects and community-driven requests.

Source: City development office.

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