News Column

City Council will take up East Avenue A housing program

June 16, 2014

By Ken Stephens, The Hutchinson News, Kan.



June 16--The Hutchinson City Council will be asked Tuesday to approve three resolutions that will clear the way for city staff to begin accepting formal applications from homeowners seeking forgivable loans for rehabilitating houses along East Avenue A between Walnut Street and K-61.

One of the resolutions is a final contract between the city and the Kansas Department of Commerce for the award of a $400,000 federal Community Development Block Grant. Another is a contract with the South Central Kansas Economic Development District for grant administration. And the final resolution is to approve a Housing Rehabilitation Plan that lays out rules for how the program will be conducted.

With the $400,000 grant and $94,110 in local matching money -- which includes $25,000 in city cash, $16,000 in weatherization money from the South Central Kansas Economic Development District and $20,360 from landlords seeking grants to rehabilitate rental property -- the city expects to have enough money to be able to rehab at least 18 houses.

The city used to have a Planning Department employee who was a certified grant administrator, but that employee retired earlier this year. SCKEDD was the only one of three organizations with a grant administrator sought out by the city that submitted a proposal. That will use up $25,000 of the program's budget.

The Housing Rehabilitation Plan includes rules on income eligibility and how that income will be verified; program limitations; terms of forgivable loans and recapture of at least a portion of that money if those terms aren't met; rehabilitation standards; inspections and bidding procedures; a points scale that will be used to evaluate applications and determine which applicants get money; a grievance procedure; application forms and contractor guidelines.

Eligibility will be based on total family income. Those limits are no more than $30,700 income for a single person; $35,100 for a household with two people; $39,500 for three people; $43,850 for four people; $47,400 for five people; $50,900 for six people; $54,400 for seven people, and $57,900 for eight people.

In other business Tuesday, the Council also will be asked to approve an ordinance prohibiting riding bicycles or skateboards or using in-line skates in George Pyle Park at Walnut and Avenue B.

In recent years, the city has undertaken a historic renovation of the gazebo, added a ramp to make it accessible to people with disabilities and added new sidewalks and landscaping in the park. But shortly after the renovated park was dedicated, skateboarders began using the park. They have damaged the sides of the ADA ramp and broken the base of a decorative light fixture, according to a memo for the Council.

Current city code prohibits riding bikes, skateboards and using in-line skates only in the downtown business district and Avenue A Park.

The Council also will consider a resolution of support for an application to the Kansas Department of Transportation for a $200,000 grant for construction of sidewalks, curb cuts and ADA ramps near Graber Elementary School.

The city previously received a grant that it used to study "Safe Routes to School," which singled out the Graber neighborhood because of its proximity to three arterial streets -- 17th Avenue and Plum and Severance streets -- as well as Hutchinson High School, Hutchinson Community College and the Kansas Cosmosphere.

If the grant is approved, it would pay for new sidewalks along the south side of 17th Avenue from Plum to Severance, 16th Terrace from Plum to Cleveland, 16th Avenue from Ford to Cleveland and 15th Avenue from Plum to Cleveland. It also would pay for restriping crosswalks at 17th and Plum and at 17th and Severance.

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(c)2014 The Hutchinson News (Hutchinson, Kan.)

Visit The Hutchinson News (Hutchinson, Kan.) at www.hutchnews.com

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Source: Hutchinson News, The (KS)


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