City Council brainstorms top needs for 2013

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Members look to vie for CDBG funding

By Jesef Williams

Old water lines and empty, dilapidated buildings.

Those are some of the blights Lancaster City Council members have once again pinpointed as they begin brainstorming their list of top needs for 2013. They also hope to receive more federal funding to help fund some of the much-needed work.

Grazier Rhea of the Catawba Regional Council of Governments spoke during City Council’s Tuesday, Feb. 12, meeting about grant application criteria and deadlines.

The city of Lancaster can vie for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, which go toward four different areas – community infrastructure, community enrichment, neighborhood revitalization and business development.

All projects must either benefit low- and moderate-income people, eliminate slums and blight, or address urgent community needs that pose a serious threat to the health or welfare of the community.

“We’re already working with your staff to develop some projects,” Rhea told City Council members. “We have some in mind.”

A public hearing was held during Tuesday’s meeting to give residents a chance to offer input on top needs. Nobody signed up to speak during that period.

Meanwhile, City Council members are drawing from their priority needs list from 2011 – the last year one was drafted.

Items on that list included upgrading water and sewer infrastructure, extending the Streetscape beautification efforts and promoting economic development and job creation.

There were 15 inclusions on the list.

Some of the 2011 goals – such as launching a recycling program and cleaning up the former Springs Global Lancaster Plant textile mill site – have since been addressed.

Councilwoman Tamara Green Garris said she’d like the 2013 list to include additonal street lighting, a police substation and the demolition of old, dilapidated buildings. She believes each of those efforts will help reduce crime.

Councilwoman Sara Eddins honed in on replacing water lines, some of which are more than 100 years old.

“We desperately need water lines on Main Street and Meeting Street,” she said.

No action was taken Tuesday, as City Council members are still in the brainstorming stage. They are expected to vote on the 2013 list at its next regular meeting.

Finalizing that list soon is key, as it’s needed to apply for CDBG funding.

The first 2013 deadline for applications is March 15, which is for programs under the community infrastructure category.

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152