Marietta City Council discusses funding

MARIETTA – Following the announcement earlier this week that Marietta would not receive a requested $871,166 Alternative Transportation Grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation for the next phase of the city’s River Trail project, members of city council’s finance committee were asked to refuse two other grants worth a total of $375,000.

“Without the Alternative Transportation funds we won’t be able to use the Clean Ohio Trails Fund and Recreational Trails Fund grants for which we have already been approved,” said city development director Andy Coleman.

The Clean Ohio grant was for $250,000 and the Recreational Trails grant $125,000, he said.

“We scored high for both grants, but can’t use them without the other state funding,” Coleman said, recommending the city should send a letter to the granting agency, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, thanking it for considering the city for the 2014 grant funding.

He said the letter would ask that the city’s applications for the grant funds be withdrawn and placed in the next round of grant funding for 2015.

“It would probably be a good idea to also develop a council resolution indicating the request that the grant applications be withdrawn,” said city law director Paul Bertram III.

Coleman said notifying ODNR that the grants would not be needed in 2014 would show a good faith effort by the city and could help when requesting future grant funding.

The grant money would have gone toward the next extension of the River Trail from the intersection of Jefferson and East Eighth streets, across Duck Creek to Cogswell Lane in the Wal-Mart complex.

In other business Thursday, Coleman said the city has to spend down any Community Development Block Grant funding approved from previous years before council can apply for the 2014 entitlement.

“Any outstanding projects should be completed by Nov. 1, or we lose that remaining funding,” Coleman said.

One of those projects, for Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant restrooms to be installed as part of the renovation of the former Colony Theatre (now Peoples Bank Theatre), has $53,000 in CDBG money outstanding that has to be spent by the Nov. 1 deadline.

Hunt Brawley, director of development for the nonprofit Hippodrome-Colony Historical Theatre Association, assured the finance committee members the funding would be used for the ADA project before November.

Coleman said another $25,000 in CDBG funding approved out of this year’s entitlement for the theater project would not have to be used until next year. He noted the 2013 CDBG funding of $345,743 has not been received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

HUD regulations require that CDBG-funded projects must be able to be completed within a year of the city receiving its annual entitlement award. The projects are determined by council members during CDBG budget development meetings each year that include at least two sessions to obtain project requests from the public.

Coleman said the next CDBG budget request, for 2014, would be due to HUD by Nov. 15.