John Scheving, who's coordinating the Small Cities Development Program (SCDP) grant that's currently involving numerous commercial and rental rehabilitation projects predominantly in downtown Crookston "is really feeling good about how the whole process is going," Interim City Administrator Pat Kelly told members of the Crookston City Council recently. "We're going to expend our money."
The last part of Kelly's quote is critically important, because grant recipients who don't spend all of the money given to them and then actually have to return the unspent funds aren't nearly as likely to be granted future SCDP funds.
And Crookston leaders want more SCDP funds in the future. "It's important that we spend all of the funds so that it does show that we have this need and when we get money we invest it," Kelly continued. "Turning money back would be really bad."
The current SCDP grant has to be all wrapped up by December 2014. After that, the city is expected to be able to apply for more funding, most likely for neighborhoods in Crookston home to recently completed flood control projects, like Sampson's, Chase-Loring and Jerome's additions. Like the Woods Addition that preceded them, all for many years have been subjected to the rules that come with the National Flood Insurance Program, which prohibit owners of property within the 100-year flood plain boundary to invest significant dollars in their property. Targeted grant money in the Woods Addition, which has had its levee project certified by the Corps of Engineers, has resulted in rental and homeowner-occupied housing improvements, and At Large Council Member Wayne Melbye, who lives in the neighborhood, said more property owners would likely be willing to invest some of their own money to match additional grant dollars if they were forthcoming.
"As we finish up (the current grant), we'll be able to apply again," Community Development Director Mike MacDonald said. "Once we get these other flood control projects certified, we would have many, many houses potentially eligible were we to re-fund a grant program. It all depends on their directives and what the funders would like to see happen here.
"The fact that we're talking about areas that have been so restricted in the flood plain from investment for all these years, that gives us a very good basis for applications for these grants," he continued.
Mayor Dave Genereux added that the housing study the city is currently fast-tracking, which will be wrapped up in a few months, can only help better define where dollars could be best invested in housing rehab throughout the community.