CDBG paving coming to area communities

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The Belmont County Board of Commissioners announced further funding will be available to help communities in need of road paving after Community Development Block Grant funding was approved for five area projects.

Commissioners J.P. Dutton, Josh Meyer and Mark Thomas conducted a regular weekly meeting Wednesday and delivered the news.

The village of Bellaire will receive $65,000 for sidewalk improvements to replace 620 linear feet of deteriorated sidewalk and two curbcuts around Union Park. The village of Bridgeport will get $70,000 for resurfacing 1,400 linear feet of Howard Street, from Hall Street to the Stop 10 Bridge. Pease Township will receive $81,500 to resurface 2,700 linear feet of Farr Road and 615 linear feet of Maple Heights Road. The village of Powhatan Point will receive $60,000 to resurface 3,100 linear feet of Chestnut, Hickory, Elm, Ash, Beech, Birch, Pine, Walnut and Cherry streets. Pultney Township will receive $35,000 to resurface 1,100 linear feet of Rock Hollow Road.

All of the areas are widely used by the communities and suffer from heavy deterioration, potholes and cracking. The project areas also are home to many residents with low to moderate incomes.

Dutton said the commissioners would continue to seek resources for infrastructure repair and road upgrades.

“Obviously it’s an issue we’ve talked ad nauseum about the past several weeks and probably will be for the next several weeks,” Dutton said. “I’m glad to see these projects move forward.”

The county had a total of $224,000 in CDBG funding to spend, then added $87,500 from the county’s CDBG revolving loan funds for a total of $311,500.

“We wanted to do as many projects as we could,” Thomas said, adding that this addition is not a move the commissioners have made in recent years. He pointed out that since the early 2010s, the CDBG funding is biannual rather than yearly. “These projects are only going to come up every two years now. … All three of us are very pleased to be adding an additional $87,500 so all five projects can be completed.”

Thomas said the funds have been committed to the projects.

“These federal funds, like many other federal funds over the last 10 years, have been drastically cut. And we have so many worthy projects that qualify, and we simply can’t do them all,” Thomas said, adding that the Belomar Regional Council provided assistance in evaluating the projects.

The funds will be disseminated to the local governments in 2018. Work could begin in late summer, early fall or next year, commissioners said.

Close to 10 projects were proposed by local communities and evaluated by Belomar.

“While the scoring was relatively close with all of the projects, these five topped the list … n this federal scoring system as the ones with the most need,” Thomas said.

“These five projects were the highest-scoring project we’ve had before us,” Dutton added.

Pease Township Trustee Michael Bianconi and Pultney Township Trustee Frank Shaffer were present at the meeting and commended the move.

“I really appreciate it,” Bianconi said. “We really need the funding. It’s a blessing.”

“They are very worthy projects that need funded,” Shaffer said. “CDBG does fund an area where you can’t find funding for. These are lower-income people. These are working-class people who a lot of times live on these roads and there’s no other means of funding.”

Other guests inquired about any possible additional recourse for local roads and funding sources.

The commissioners pledged to continue working with political leaders such as Ohio Sen. Frank Hoagland, R-Mingo Junction; state Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta; and state Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, to explore possibilities for assistance from Columbus and ways to meet the local match for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding for county-wide slip repairs.

The commissioners also recently approved three additional $5 increments to county license fees, which will apply to each registered vehicle annually, to generate additional paving funds for the county engineer’s office.