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City council approves six road repaving projects, encourages input on development priorities

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — City council members on Tuesday approved a nearly $400,000 contract for street paving in Salisbury and set a deadline for locals to submit their input on community development priorities as part of a federal grant for coronavirus relief.

The city voted to award NJR Group, Inc. a contract in the amount of $388,993 for repaving projects scheduled to begin next month. The bid was handled by both the city’s Purchasing and Public Works departments for the cost per ton to furnish and lay appropriate asphalt and/or resurface streets. Bidders were asked to provide unit pricing for 3,800 tons of asphalt, which was priced by NJR Group at $89.35 per ton; raise 53 manhole covers, which was priced at $65 each; raise 46 valve boxes, priced at $55 each; and milling at 1.5 inches for 15,100 square yards.

The current 2020-21 fiscal year budget has sufficient funds for street maintenance, according to the city. The current budget for resurfacing is $472,000, while the estimated cost of remarking the newly paved roads is $77,669.

The paving and resurfacing would take place from Jan. 4 to June 30. The projects include:

• West 11th Street, from North Main Street to Jackson Street

• Clubhouse Drive, from Jackson Street to Confederate Avenue

• Filbert Street, from Roy Street to Willow Street

• Roy Street, from Old West Innes to Filbert Street

• Lincolnton Road, from Fulton Street to Mooresville Road

• Confederate Avenue, from Mocksville Avenue to Clubhouse Drive

Roy and Filbert streets must be widened before they can be paved as they currently don’t meet the standards for a two-lane road, said Public Works Assistant Director Chris Tester.

Mayor Karen Alexander asked if contractors would consider working on these road projects between the hours of midnight and 7 a.m. Tester said it may be ideal in terms of traffic, but it disturbs local neighborhoods. Thus, repaving will be conducted as traffic travels on the roads.

Also at the meeting, Community Planning Services Director Hannah Jacobson and Housing Planner Candace Edwards outlined to council members the anticipated timeline for use of the recently awarded Community Development Block Grant, intended to aid local pandemic prevention and relief efforts. In September, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced an allocation of $200,221 in Community Development Block Grant funds from the federal CARES Act to aid local efforts in preventing, preparing for and responding to COVID-19.

September’s allocation is in addition to the $168,950 received in the spring and summer. Jacobson said all of those funds were dedicated for public service agencies serving low-income individuals and families such as Rowan Helping Ministries.

HUD requires that the city receive public comment, prepare an action plan that outlines the proposed use of funds and then publish it for additional public input. No action was required by council members on Tuesday, and city staff will present draft recommendations to city council in January.

A deadline of Dec. 25 was set for locals to submit written comments and their input on use of the funds. Public input can be submitted to Edwards at candace.edwards@salisburync.gov. City staff ask that written comments be no longer than 750 words.

After considering the public input, staff will then present to council members in January recommendations for the action plan. Jacobson said at that time the plan will show “the broad slices of the pie” for funding.

Then, following another week of public comment, city council members will vote on the action plan before it’s submitted to HUD for approval.

Jacobson said she anticipates HUD will disburse funds as early as February. And while she isn’t aware of a tight deadline like some other COVID-19 federal funds, it will still be urgent to get the funds disbursed quickly because they will serve critical needs. Additionally, there won’t necessarily be a cap on the maximum amount each organization can receive.

Some parameters for the funding require addressing a COVID-19 need, providing assistance for low-to-moderate income individuals and families and addressing at least one of the goals from the city’s consolidated plan. The following are goals included in that plan:

• Increasing the supply of decent, affordable housing

• Improving public facilities and infrastructure

• Providing opportunities for home ownership

• Providing assistance to public service agencies

• Promoting business growth and a robust workforce

• Affirmatively furthering fair housing

• Effectively planning and administering programs

Council member David Post asked if the funds could be used for expenses related to the KIVA loan program. That’s a reference to action at the Oct. 20 city council meeting when the city voted to move forward with investing in a national loan program designated to help women and minorities looking to kickstart a small business.

KIVA is a nonprofit loan program headquartered in San Francisco that provides zero-interest and zero-fee microloans to women and minorities aspiring to open a small business. KIVA partners with organizations to provide those women and minorities with affordable microloans.

Jacobson said it’s possible the Community Development Block Grant funds could be used for that program, particularly to help the city provide matching funds.

KIVA is offering a special training session for Salisbury scheduled for late February or early March. Then, the program should launch sometime next spring.

Alexander asked if the Community Development Block Grant funds could be used for utility and rent payments, and Jacobson confirmed they could, adding that those funds have been allocated to programs like Rowan Helping Ministries before.

Following a question from Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins, Jacobson said the funds also could be used for businesses impacted by the pandemic or to create new businesses.

Also at the meeting, council members approved the last mile transfer agreement between the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the city to offer travelers along the Raleigh-to-Charlotte rail corridor a free pass to help them reach their final destinations using public transportation.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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