GARLAND — The town board voted unanimously Tuesday night to move forward with the Community Development Block Grant application. The CDBG will enable the town to start looking towards potentially fixing some of the water and sewer concerns that have been plaguing the community for quite a while, leaders said during the special meeting.
“We have border lines that are in bad shape,” said Commissioner Ralph Smith. Smith described some of the lines as being “all to pieces.”
“The pumps are only 15 years old and would not be eligible for rehabilitation at this time,” said William K. Cowan with McGill Associates for Engineering, Planning, and Finance. Smoke testing will be done to see where the problems are located.
“It shows us where the weaknesses and the gaps are,” added Cowan He also encouraged the board to make sure that Envirolink is aware of the lines that need attention.
“What we want to do is prioritize and get the worst ones, and if we run into a situation where there is a lot more…we can adjust this,” added Cowen. Right now the main objective is the sewer system.
“We do have some water lines that are in bad shape,” interjected Smith. “I would like to see if we can divide it up between the two instead of trying to throw all the money at one.” Smith also mentioned that many of the lines have been patched seven to eight times already. Cowen added that that kind of problem is what this grant is designed for.
During its last session, the General Assembly set aside money for water and sewer infrastructure in the form of grants. There are two cycles for the grant money, with one in April and a second one in May. Eligibility is calculated on a point system, with low to moderate income communities that have high poverty and high water costs coming in at the top.
Garland qualifies on the point scale, and sewer rehabilitation is a top priority due to age of the current system. Sewer lines greater than 40 years old are eligible, and likely a good portion of the lines in Garland will qualify under that provision. Water lines are different, their replacement is based on water loss and if there are a lot of orders out in for breaks added Cowen.
One of the positives about this grant is that there is no match required; however there are caps on the funding that is available. If Garland does not make the cut this cycle the town would still be able to reapply for the next cycle in September when another $25 to $26 million would be available. The grant money comes from Housing and Urban Development funds.
Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.