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G'town considers going alone on Main Street improvement project

February 27, 2019
After not getting awarded Community Development Block Grant monies following its first application with the state, the Georgetown Town Council is debating whether to re-apply in the next round or pay for its Main Street project on its own.

The Main Street project aims to fix the retaining walls and sidewalks in the downtown. Had the town been awarded the grant, the state would have paid about 80 percent of the $600,000 project.

Nick Creevy, of River Hills Economic Development District and Regional Planning Commission, who passed out a scoring summary provided by the state to the council members, told the council at its Feb. 18 meeting that he was present for the debriefing on the town's CDBG application.

"They would like to see a lot more documentation … more detail in letters of support, but, frankly, they didn't give us much credit on anything," he said. "They just don't like the project that much, so we have to work a little harder to get it to threshold.

"So, bottom line is, we didn't get it and we didn't get it by a fair amount," he continued. "We can go in again, but there will be some legwork."

Councilman Chris Loop said that, regardless of the outcome of the town's application, the council knows it wants to move forward with the project.

"So, any of our money that we spend on this, or even if we move forward with any of this without the state support, does that hurt us for future applications?" he asked.

Creevy explained that, unless the town were to start on and end the Main Street project and change the scope of its application, it would. For instance, the town couldn't piecemeal the project and still apply.

The big issue, however, is the options to the easements the town has acquired for the project expire in August.

"You need (the options) for five months after the award of the grant," Creevy said. "So, the next round of applications goes in on June 28 and would be awarded Aug. 15. You would want your option to go into February, because you wouldn't be able to purchase it until they gave you environmental release."

Loop pointed out that not only will the options expire, but they were purchased based on appraisal.

"How long is the appraisal good for, because if it's going to be where the appraisal has to be re-done, I'm just going to say we just need to forget it and we got to do (the project) piecemeal as we get the money," he said.

Councilwoman Kathy Haller said she would like to make a motion to go ahead and fix the worst retaining wall and sidewalks.

"We have got to start on something," she said. "The money we got for the water I want to use for the retaining wall."

Loop said he'd like to go ahead and purchase the easements.

"We know we're going to want to do the work, but, at the same time, if the board thinks that we want to go forward with another round of this, it's going to throw the whole application into jeopardy," he said. "I just don't think we're going to be able to get the score up. What do you all think? Interest that we've accumulated in our account is about $80,000 so far on the water funds that have been invested. That was just January."

Town engineer Bob Woosley said, "If I were going to do anything, I would definitely take care of the walls that are falling down right out of the gate."

Councilman Josh Cavanaugh suggested waiting until the next meeting, after hearing if the old appraisals can still be used, before deciding to do anything.

"If the old appraisals won't work and we have to have new appraisals done, then I would say that we just move forward with purchasing the easements and just move forward on our own," he said, "but, if the old appraisals can be used, then it may be worthwhile to try to get these extra 140 points, because, to me, we've already got 300. I don't think the 140 points is that far off.

"If we can figure out if all the little things will carry over or not, then I think that'll help us decide whether we want to try again or not."

The next Georgetown Town Council meeting will be Monday, March 18, at 6:30 p.m. at the town hall.

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