More than $600,000 worth of infrastructural improvements is on the horizon for a downtown neighborhood, thanks to government money awarded to the city.
The city of Statesboro was announced this week as a recipient of a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant from Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs, as part of a program designed to address community needs in low-income areas of cities.
Statesboro officials applied for the money — a process that included interviewing residents and preparing engineering plans — in late March.
The city is one of 69 communities in Georgia (120 applied) to receive portions of $33 million provided to the state by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
According to City Councilman Phil Boyum, the grant funds will be paired with Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax dollars to improve streets and underground utilities along portions of Gordon, Lafayette, Turner and East Main streets, and Cone Crescent.
The city has committed up to $186,837 in SPLOST funds for the project, said Mandi Cody, the city’s director of community development.
“I am thrilled for the city. Anytime the city is able to leverage tax dollars with a grant it is a win-win. It is a big win for Statesboro,” Boyum, the District 1 councilman who represents many residents of the neighborhood, said. “The area is one of the more dilapidated areas in town. It is great to be able to do something that raises up the neighborhood.”
City staff applied for the grant as a way to improve drainage issues on and around Gordon Street.
The money will allow engineers to check off a project that has been on their radar for quite some time, according to David Hendrix, the city’s assistant city engineer.
“We know that the area is flat, and that it drains poorly. That is why we are doing this project — to keep water from standing in people’s yards, in the streets and underneath houses,” he said. “The issue has been recognized for a while now, and we’ve had every intention of getting in there and fixing it.”
Part of the work will entail new curb and gutter installations, Hendrix said.
City officials say the project will also affect the city as a whole.
“Certainly this is a great project for the citizens in that area; it is going to alleviate some of the drainage problems we have had over there,” Boyum said. “But, it is also a great benefit for the city. Some of what the project will do is fix some sewer lines in the area. Those lines are older lines where rainwater sometimes infiltrates the sewage system, goes to the water treatment plant, and creates a greater load for the plant to process. This project is a way for us to reduce the impact on the water treatment plant.”
According to Cody, a workshop for grant recipients will be hosted Sept. 5 by the state’s Department of Community Affairs.
At that time, city staff will have a better understanding of when and how the money will be dispersed, and when the project can begin.
Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.