Township of Woodward. Considers Projects for CDBG Funding | New

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HOUTZDALE – The Township of Woodward reviewed potential uses for Community Development Block Grant funding and heard from a CDBG expert at their recent meeting.

About $100,000 will be received annually, according to specialist Lisa Kovalick. Funding is new to the municipality. It must serve people with low to middle incomes. Moderate income is defined at around $41,000 a year for one person, Kovalick said.

Township officials mentioned potential areas for improvement related to sewers, EMS, the park and the senior center. There is no project defined for funding yet. All of the areas for improvement discussed are simply problems that funding could help solve.

Supervisors discussed the sewage system for township residents, particularly for the approximately 400 residents who rely on the Houtzdale Municipal Sewer Authority.

The sewage treatment plant, according to supervisors, needs to be upgraded and customers are paying high maintenance fees without seeing major improvements. Supervisors said they would like to establish a system to pump sewage from township residents to the Woodward Township Sewer Authority.

The Houtzdale Authority and the Woodland-Bigler Area Sewer Authority are in similar situations, according to Kovalick.

She said neither had a consent order with the Environmental Protection Department, but both wanted to expand capacity and upgrade their factories at high cost. The cheapest option would be to pump to Clearfield or Woodward, Kovalick said.

“Both factories have the capacity and are in compliance, but there are members of these authorities who do not want to regionalize, which is a burden on taxpayers,” she said.

Kovalick’s understanding is that Houtzdale borrowed money and made no meaningful changes. She alleged that the authority had borrowed thousands of dollars for painting purposes, although no one knows what the condition of the tanks are in the ground.

“The Houtzdale system borrowed money and made no improvements, and they want to reorganize without a consent order,” Kovalick said. “They haven’t received anything from the DEP yet. They just want to go ahead and do it, which will mean a massive rate increase for all ratepayers.

In terms of getting funding, the authority is probably in a bad position. Kovalick said if the authority was going to the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, which helps provide low-interest loans and grants for construction or improvement projects, it should answer questions. PENNVEST would likely point out that the cheapest option would be to line up Woodward, Kovalick said.

Asked about who supervisors can step in to address the situation, Kovalick said the municipality is ultimately responsible for municipal authority and could speak to his attorney to take action on behalf of residents.

Supervisors also asked if CDBG funding could go to Houtzdale-Ramey EMS, which is in the process of purchasing a new ambulance priced at around $205,000. The vehicle’s delivery date is 18 to 24 months, according to Tom Stodart of Houtzdale-Ramey EMS.

While the funding can’t be earmarked for the vehicle, it could be earmarked for hardware in the vehicle, Kovalick said. Stodart specifically asked if purchasing a litter box, which is like a stretcher, would qualify. It would be battery operated and elevate to a certain height to facilitate the movement of individuals. It would cost around $60,000, according to Stodart.

“It’s for the community,” Stodart said. “Anything you can do will help us greatly, we would appreciate it.”

Kovalick said she would explore what CDBG funds have historically been used for in regards to EMS.

Secretary Kim Caldwell inquired about the senior center. Kovalick remembered there were ADA accessibility issues for the center. Stodart said this accessibility issue is bad and also impacts EMS.

Supervisors also suggested restrooms and water improvements in the park.

Whatever project CDBG funds go to, the project must serve low- to middle-income people. To determine the benefits, officials could conduct demographic surveys in the area benefiting from the project.

There will be a second public meeting regarding funding probably in September. The funds would be released next spring.

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