San Marcos officials are trying to decide from among the eligible uses for Community Block Development Grant money. Photo by Sean Batura.
By SEAN BATURA
San Marcos officials are looking for residents to help determine how to spend $575,181 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.
The city will sponsor a “stakeholders workshop” on Thursday night at Southside Community Center on Guadalupe Street at 6 p.m. At the meeting San Marcos Community Initiatives Administrator Janis Hendrix will offer a presentation and receive public suggestions for new CDBG priorities.
Hendrix will later provide a report of that meeting and previous public workshops to the city council, which may award this year’s funds on May 18. After the council allocates the money, Hendrix will publicize the projects for 30 days, during which time the public can offer comments. Hendrix must send the projects to HUD by August 15 for final approval.
The CDBG funds, dispersed by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, are used for projects sponsored by non-profit organizations and city departments that benefit low- to moderate-income San Marcos citizens.
Every five years, Development Services CDBG division determines what criteria to use in formulating spending priorities for the next five years.
“This year, the City will develop a new five-year plan for the expenditure of CDBG funds for program years 2010 (which begins October 1) through 2014,” Hendrix said. “This is a collaborative effort between city staff and the citizens of San Marcos. The input of our citizens is vital in establishing the needs of the community and prioritizing the way CDBG funds should be used.”
The current spending priorities are housing, public facilities and improvements, economic development for job creation, and clearance activities (demolition of dilapidated houses).
The city will accept grant applications through May 7 for the 2010 CDBG Program. Forms are available in the city’s development services planning office on the second floor of the Municipal Building next to City Hall. The application also can be found on the city’s website.
Past projects funded by CDBG money include the Hopkins Street pedestrian bridge over the San Marcos River, a skate park, various sidewalks, the Arizona Street Senior Center, the Anita Reyes and Swift Parks, the Village of San Marcos Sports Park Complex, the Swift Park basketball courts, Southside Community Center, ramp and parking improvements at the Community Action’s Community Health Services Clinic, and the rehabilitation of 45 houses between 2000 and 2008.
2009 CDBG funds currently being expended include $100,000 to Southside Community Center for the rehabilitation of seven owner-occupied homes this summer, $168,200 for rehabilitation and improvements to the playground, basketball court, parking areas and sidewalks of Victory Gardens Park, $53,860 to the San Marcos Public Housing Authority for construction of a new community center at Chapultepec Homes, $99,969 for program administration of CDBG funds and activities, and $105,070 for the creation of Eddie Durham Park on MLK Drive adjacent to the Cephas House.
Regarding the future site of Eddie Durham Park, said Hendrix, “It’s not big, it’s not a large tract of land, but we plan to develop it with probably like a gazebo — for musicians to perform in — and probably at least one covered pavilion and be the appropriate sidewalks and trails to allow people to get around. We’ll be doing some public workshops within this calendar year.”
Hendrix said the city is now selecting a landscape architect to design the Eddie Durham Park, which, she said, may be a good site for the city’s Juneteenth celebrations. Adjacent to the park is the Cephas House, which the city recently hired an architect to stabilize.
The Cephas House, located on MLK Drive across the street from the Calaboose African-American History Museum, probably will be a community arts and cultural center, though Hendrix said her office will be looking for input from the public to determine exactly how to use the building. Hendrix said possible activities at the Cephas House may include after school music and art classes for kids.