Arcata City Council talks block grant applications; sewer, housing projects to be brought back to next meeting

The Arcata City Council on Wednesday unanimously voted to direct staff to prepare a community development block grant application for $500,000 in business loan program funds and $100,000 in planning and technical assistance, and to bring a sewer and housing project back to the next council meeting for further discussion.

Deputy Community Development Director David Loya asked for more time to evaluate the $1 million sewer infrastructure project to replace failing underground sewage lines to ensure that the project is competitive enough if submitted, and that all funds benefit low-income individuals or create jobs.

Staff will now use census data to identify low-income blocks in Sunny Brae, and would apply for funding in those areas if the sewer projected is submitted.

Staff will also consider a $600,000 housing grant to pay for roofing, siding, stairwell and other major capital repairs to the low-income Windsong Duplexes and Junior Apartments.

Housing Humboldt Executive Director Bonnie Hughes said the Juniper complex is 34 years old.

"In 34 years, as you can imagine, work needs to be done," Hughes said. "Even though we're keeping it operational ... age is just becoming an issue."

After more evaluation, staff will recommend either the sewer or housing project be submitted.

"It boils down to what the most competitive projects are, and what is ready," Loya said. "Ready has specific requirements ... you actually have to have certain things in place. For example, on the sewer construction project, one of the key components on that project is demonstrating a low income benefit, the target income."

If the planning grant is funded, the city could build a new industrial park on the Happy Valley Industrial Park property, and construct a condominium-style building on a vacant lot in the Aldergrove Industrial Park to sell it to private companies who are ready to own property to help them grow, according to staff.

The application for the grants, which are federally funded, but administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, must be submitted by April 11.

Mayor Mark Wheetley and Councilwoman Alex Stillman were both out of town on city business. Stillman attended the meeting via teleconference.

The council will meet again on March 5 for its regularly scheduled meeting.

Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.