July 16th Council Thoughts
July council meetings ran early in the month, leaving a relaxing bit of time with no meetings. I’ve been working with the kids on their scouting achievements and even got some time in on a leather craft project. Growing up around saddles and other horse tack while my dad made belts and other knick knacks has me waxing nostalgic.
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
This year is a planning year for CDBG funds. A community survey is required to make sure we’re responding to community requests and needs. The survey results are found here.
There are three National Objectives of the CDBG program:
- Benefit low and moderate income persons (capped at $56,100 for a family of four)
- Prevent and eliminate slum and blight
- Meet needs having a particular urgency
The city is doing a solid job managing these projects and providing outcomes to HUD. I commend the CDBG committee for all of their hard work. Having served for 5 years, I know it’s not easy.
Councilman Gorena again espoused his belief that 100% of our funds can be spent on curb and gutter to replace our capital improvement expenditures apparently. However, HUD intends for these funds to assist with Housing (hence the H in HUD) and there are multiple examples across the country where cities have had their funding removed because they spent only on curb and gutter- they didn’t attempt to improve living conditions with programs like first time home buyers, affordable housing initiatives, or even housing rehab.
Here’s a solid primer on how CDBG funds should work.
He then proceeded to lay out his objections to housing rehabilitation. The two objections I repeatedly hear are:
“Let the market take care of it”- because the market has been effective at reviving these properties in Lewisville. <end sarcasm>
“the return on investment is”. First up, these calculations don’t take into account the impact on neighboring homes when one property is rehabilitated. Second, if the alternative is streets and gutters, what’s the ROI on paving?
If we’re receiving funds from the federal government to improve access to affordable housing then I think we’re doing the right things by focusing on adding home buyers, not renters, and by focusing rehabilitation funds on seniors and the poor through empirical means, while ALSO improving the water, sewer and road infrastructure like we’re doing on Purnell, and on Milton, and we have done in the past in the Mackenzie – Hembry and the College Street areas of the city.
Appointments and Recognition
We also had the pleasure of swearing in over a dozen new and returning volunteers for the various boards and committees. It’s always an honor to see so many folks dedicated to making Lewisville better.
Our Library earned an “Excellence in Libraries” award from the state, placing our outstanding library in the top 5% of all public libraries in the state. We also approved a transfer of obsolete and excess library inventory to the Friends of the Lewisville Public Library for the upcoming library book sale.
Council approved a professional services agreement with Catalyst Commercial for market analysis and retail recruitment for Old Town, West Main Street (strip malls on Main), and Hebron Transit Station area (Southern light rail area). There was discussion of this at the last Council retreat, with a bit of dissent from the usual suspects but this time through we approved with zero discussion. This will be a great kick-start for reviving these areas and identifying future retail opportunities to revitalize these areas and grow the new ones.
Council also approved a couple of new business plats as well as funding of $369,900 for Milton Street improvements from CDBG funds, and $283,755 for Purnell Street improvements from capital improvement funds.