Roads, senior center focus of block grant public hearing

FLINT TWP. — Making a wish list of township needs is hard when there are more projects that funds, but the township board and residents hammered out a proposed plan Monday during a Public Needs hearing for spending 2017 Community Development Block Grant funds.

Block grant fund are provided by the federal government and can only be spent in low to moderate income areas, as determined by the 2010 census, Clerk Kim Courts said.

A summary plan that must be submitted by November 18 to the Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission laid out four potential spending categories for the $212,502 grant allocation to the township. Those are $60,000 (28 percent of the total grant) for repairs at the senior center including drainage and the parking lot; $25,000 (12 percent) to code enforcement to cover salary of one blight control worker; $97,502 (46 percent) for street improvement on Southgate Drive; and $30,000 (14 percent) for demolition.

Residents speaking at the hearing did not add any new categories but elaborated on existing ones.

Jim Rouse, a River Forest resident, asked the board to “finish what it started.” Last year, a hefty portion of block grant funds were spent for repairs on River Forest, which has been badly deteriorated for years. Allocated funds were not sufficient to repair the entire street.

Trustees Frank Kasle, Barb Vert and George Menoutes agreed with Rouse which resulted in River Forest being added to the summary plan. Township Supervisor Karyn Miller said she was aiming to spread the grant funds around, designating Southgate this year, since River Forest received help last year. She urged board members to go out and drive on both roads to determine which was in worse shape.

Vert said she had been asking to fix Southgate for a long time but thought the River Forest project should be completed first.

Kasle agreed.

“That project (River Forest) has been started but is nowhere near completion. I don’t understand the philosophy of switching to another street.” Menoutes recommended that both River Forest and Southgate be in put in writing in the summary of proposed street improvements.

“We need a lot more money than what we get,” said Kim Courts about the wish list of projects.

Board members also discussed how funding would be spent on projects at the senior center. Miller said that fixing a drainage problem would be the first priority but plans calls for parking lot repairs and moving dumpster access to keep heavy trucks out of the parking lot. Jim McClung, a member of the senior citizens’ board, said the need all the funds they can get. Funds already allocated to buy food to stock a food pantry for needy seniors ran out two months early, he said. Need is increasing, he said.

He also mentioned that the center needs a new van. The current one has about 115,000 miles on it and recently broke down during the Carman- Ainsworth Homecoming Parade.

“That’s kind of an embarrassment to the center and to the township because it does say Flint Township Senior Center on there (the side of the van),’ he said. He also suggested trying to get a local dealership to donate a van. Miller said that the purpose of the public hearing was to gather information and that the board would decide where to spend the CDBG funds at a later date.

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