Council OKs Community Development Block Grant, HOME Programs

OSWEGO, NY – At its meeting this week, the Common Council approved the Community Development Block Grant and HOME programs.

The vote was 6-1 with Third Ward Councilor Mike Todd voting no.

At the public hearing prior to the vote, two residents spoke.

As a recent transplant to Oswego, Laura Brazak said she notices what others may take for granted every day.

“There are jewels here. The waterfront and the port and the harbor … you guys won the lottery when it comes to stuff like that,” she said. “There are funds available to enhance the quality of life for the majority of people, not just the low- or moderate-income people. These grants do more than just subsidize, there are other opportunities to enhance the quality of life here in Oswego and really capitalize on what you already have going for you. It is a tremendous city and I see lots of potential.”

She urged the council to focus more on the residents, rather than big box stores.

Kim Van Schaack told the council she’d like to see the city apply for grants that would help the middle-income residents and improve the neighborhoods.

“My neighborhood is now over-run with low- to moderate-income housing. It’s impacting the possible re-sale of my home,” she said. Adding more low- and moderate-income housing in the neighborhood will devalue her home, she said, adding that she has lived here for 16 years now and it’s really sad to see something you worked so hard on and put some money into … being devalued.

The program has been administered through the Community Development Office since 1975, Mary Vanouse, community development director, said.

Available Funding:

$10 million – NYS CDBG for housing activities
$25 million – AHC home ownership development program
$1 million – access to home program
$1 million – access to home for Medicaid recipients
$1.4 million – restore program

Community Development Block Grants are federally funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program, authorized by Title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 and administered through the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation’s Office of Community Renewal. The CDBG Small Cities Program provides grants to communities with populations under 50,000 people.

Applicants for CDBG grants must ensure that 70% of all activities funded under the program primarily benefit low- and moderate-income households.

The city of Oswego is included in the Syracuse Metropolitan Statistical Area, according to the U.S. Census bureau.

Each CDBG-funded activity must also meet one of the national objectives: benefiting low- and moderate-income households; aiding in the prevention or elimination of slums or blight; or meeting community development needs having a particular urgency.

The 2014 maximum funding limits for towns, cities and villages is $400,000; for counties it is $750,000.

“CDBG funds are available for housing projects (rehabilitation, home ownership; residential water and wastewater systems) that primarily benefit low-moderate income persons. The application deadline for CDBG program is Friday (February 27),” Vanouse said.

Financial assistance will be provided for the development of projects that meet NYS Homes and Community Renewal Investment strategy and that provide decent, affordable housing, create suitable living environments and enhance economic opportunities across the state.

“The city of Oswego Community Development Office was granted $400,000 in AHC funding for Housing Rehabilitation in August 2014. Oswego has administered an Affordable Home Ownership Program since 1995. 119 families have purchased homes with the support of this program,” Vanouse said. Nineteen applicants currently are on the waiting list for this program. Three local banks have committed mortgage funds for this program.”

In Other Business:

The council granted permission to the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce to hold its annual farmers’ market on West First Street and surrounding areas on Thursdays. The market runs from late May until early October.

They were also granted use of the city bandstand, at no charge, for live entertainment.

And, they will be allowed to promote local wineries by providing sampling and sales for home consumption, as has been done in the past years. The Open Container Ordinance will be waived, only at the booth, so that the wine vendors can provide samples and have bottle sales, which must not be open at the market.

The market will be in operation from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. with the street being closed at 3:30 p.m.

In accordance with Resolution #310-2011, the city has deemed the farmers’ market a “Smoke Free Zone” restricting smoking of tobacco products in the area designated as the farmers’ market.

Councilors OK’d use of the Eastside Fire Station for a blood drive to be held March 2 through the American Red Cross.

The hours will be from noon – 5 p.m.

They also accepted a donation of a 24” LCD television from Wal-Mart for use by the Juvenile Fire setter Program and a donation of a monitor and a graphics card from Jon Chawgo to be used by the Oswego Fire Department.

The mayor was authorized to:

Sign the Utility Work Agreement with New York State Department of Transportation, for the relocation and adjustment of sanitary sewer and appurtenances on Route 481 at Churchill Road, as part of the construction, reconstruction or improvement of project.  This work will be performed at no cost to the city.

Sign the Utility Work Agreement with New York State Department of Transportation, for relocation and adjustment of water mains and appurtenances on Route 481 at Churchill Road, as part of the construction, reconstruction or improvement of project.  This work will be performed at no cost to the city.

Sign Change Order No. 2 with John R. Dudley Construction Company for the general construction contract with John R. Dudley Construction Co. for the Charles E. Riley Booster Pump Station project in the amount of $30,913.53.

Sign amendment No. 2 to the professional services agreement With C&S Companies for modifications to the Riley Water Tank Replacement Project. C&S will provide additional professional services, as required, through to the completion of the Riley Water Tank Replacement. The cost for amendment No. 2 is $22,473.

The council also approved some requests for travel:

Attendance at the Company Officers Leadership Training Course to be held April 10-11 in Rochester. Requested by Jeff McCrobie, fire chief.

Attendance at the Fire Investigator II Course to be held June 15-26 in Montour Falls. Requested by the fire chief.

Attendance at the Advanced Vehicle Contraband Concealment Course to be held March 23-24 in Endicott. Requested by Tory DeCaire, police chief.

Attendance at the ASP Instructor Course to be held March 30 through April 3 in Elmira. Requested by the police chief.

The centrifuge at the Eastside Wastewater Treatment Plant is currently inoperable. The superintendent has secured a quote from a manufacturer to repair the equipment at an estimated cost of $109,500. The cost includes a complete electronics upgrade.

The cost of a new unit would exceed $300,000.

The council waived the rules to bring the resolution to the floor without committee consideration.

Councilors authorized the purchasing agent to issue a purchase order, not to exceed $109,500, for the repair of the equipment.