Porterdale to apply for Community Development grant

PORTERDALE -- Application for a Community Development Block Grant is at the forefront of initiatives for the City Council in 2012.

At its regular meeting Monday night the council heard a presentation from Nina Kelly, project manager for the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, outlining the grant application process that the city will follow in order to meet the application deadline of April 2.

The city has expressed interest in applying for a multi-activity grant that would address housing for low-income residents, public facilities and infrastructure needs.

Kelly told the council that a pre-application public hearing, which has been scheduled for Jan. 26, 6:30 p.m., at City Hall, is a prerequisite for the application. Following the public hearing, Kelly and the NEGRC will work to help the city identify the projects for which the grant would be used. Because the grant award hinges on helping low-income residents, NEGRC will assist the city in conducting a door-to-door survey to determine the average income of residents.

The maximum CDBG amount is $800,000, which would be a significant grant for Porterdale. The city's 2012 general fund budget is slightly more than $800,000.

Porterdale is also in the process of developing an Urban Redevelopment Plan with NEGRC.

Councilman Lowell Chambers asked Kelly to assess the city's potential for success in being awarded a CDBG.

"The funding at the federal level is decreasing quite a bit, so it is very competitive," Kelly said, adding that an Urban Redevelopment Plan could enhance the city's grant application.

The amount of competition for grants can also play a significant role in who receives the funding, Kelly said.

"I don't want to say you will be competitive because the reality is that we never know who is going to apply every year," she said.

Porterdale has already been awarded a $15,000 grant from the Porter Fund, a private foundation, for renovation of a boxcar that will be used as a restroom and changing facility next to the Historic Train Depot. The depot is being renovated to serve as a trailhead for the planned 27-acre Yellow River Park on the banks of the Yellow River in Porterdale. The boxcar was donated to the city by Norfolk Southern railroad.

In addition, Newton Trails has received a grant from the National Park Service that will be used to provide technical assistance for development of the Porterdale Yellow River Park project for the 12 months beginning October 2011.

Porterdale is also among a group of six partners that has applied for a $240,000 Georgia Department of Natural Resources/Georgia State Parks' Recreational Trail Grant. The grant would be used to construct a concrete trail, entrance sign and canoe/kayak/small boat launch for the Yellow River Park trailhead. This project would create a trail connecting to the next phase of Newton County's multi-use trail plan.

This grant award will be announced in June.