WAUSAU — Town officials approved Fred Fox Enterprises taking the first steps toward seeking a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant for Wausau during Thursday’s Town Council meeting.
David Fox, project manager for Fred Fox Enterprises of St. Augustine was on hand for a public hearing which preceded the council meeting and during which Fox explained the process of applying for a 2013 CDBG grant.
“The first step is we need to appoint a Citizens Advisory Task Force,” Fox said. “Then we need to advertise the task force meetings and discuss possible projects.”
Fox also ran through a Fair Housing workshop for the audience, which discussed the history of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The Fair Housing workshop was also one of the requirements en route to applying for a CDBG grant.
During the regular meeting, council members voted to allow Fred Fox Enterprises to begin the initial steps toward applying for the grant, and they approved a list of five potential members for the Citizens Advisory Task Force, three of whom were in the audience.
One project the town has been wanting to fund is a new fire station, and the town has initial plans already drawn up for the facility. Fox said the CDBG grant could be used for a fire station.
A new category that is being added to CDBG grants is the ability to use the funds to fight blight in communities — which means using grant money to destroy unsightly abandoned structures.
“They are still working out the details, but it is supposed to be added in next year,” Fox said. “You can already use grant funds to take down structures following disasters, but now they are changing the requirements so the funding can be used to help clean up communities.”
Fox said that an example of grant money being used to remove damaged homes was the work done in Caryville several years ago where grant money was used to take down flood-damaged structures.
“One thing about using grants for damaged buildings was the requirement that you could never build on that property again,” Fox said. The rules on the grant funding as applied to non-disaster related blight are still being written, but in the near future, communities may be able to use grant funds to take down abandoned and decrepit buildings.
This $600,000 grant does not impact the $400,000 in Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program grants the town of Wausau applied for earlier this year, Fox said.
“They are two different things,” Fox said. “The FRDAP grants come from the Department of Environmental Protection, while the CDBG grants are from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.”
The two FRDAP grants the town has applied for will go toward renovating two city parks.
One $200,000 grant would be used to improve the Dalton Carter Recreation Center, also known as the Possum Palace, where the city would like to resurface the parking lot, renovate the tennis courts, picnic facilities, basketball courts and restrooms, add an exercise trail, upgrade the camping area, and add additional playground equipment among other improvements.
The other $200,000 would go toward improvements at George Rogers Park, where the city hopes to renovate the playground, enhance the handicapped parking area, and renovate the restrooms, picnic facilities and baseball field. The recreation committee would also like to add additional playground equipment, a basketball court, additional parking at the Skateboard Park, an exercise trail and a covered picnic facility, as well as expand the Skateboard Park.
The next step in seeking the CDBG grant will be to advertise then hold a public meeting with the Citizens Advisory Task Force and the town’s engineering firm, Preble-Rish, to identify projects to submit. The deadline for the application is February, Fox said.
“The public input is an important part of the process,” Fox said. “They want to hear from the people and see that the public has had some say in what projects are chosen.”