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Palm Coast Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015 3 years ago

Seminole Woods path stays on track, thanks to grant dollars

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But the City Council also debated the priorities of the Community Development Block Grant funding.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

What's more important, a bike path in the Seminole Woods area of Palm Coast, or spending the money to help rehabilitate several homes that might have leaking roofs?

The five-year plan for the Community Development Block Grant is due to Department of Housing and Urban Development by Aug. 15, and the Palm Coast City Council discussed the funding strategies and timelines for how to spend the money. Currently, the city plans to use $250,000 per year until completion of the path, and about $150,000 for housing rehabilitation.

Pedestrian fatalities in the Seminole Woods area vaulted that bike path project to the top of the list a few years ago, but, as City Councilman Steve Nobile pointed out, the priorities and the makeup of the City Council can shift over time. He said he opposed spending the limited funds on a bike path in Seminole Woods because fixing leaky roofs should be a higher priority.

Resident CarMichael McMillan spoke in public comment and said he felt it was not right to spend the money on a bike path; it was designed to help the poor. According to the city's presentation, "the city will allocate approximately $153,979 for financial assistance for repair of owner-occupied housing units" thanks to the CDBG.

But City Councilman Jason DeLorenzo said there will be more dollars available through the State Housing Initiative Program next year — about $760,000 — and that the county administers that program. He encouraged residents to take advantage of that program to address housing concerns.

DeLorenzo then spoke strongly in favor of spending the money on the paths because he remembered the emotional residents who came to protest the lack of attention given to paths on the southern side of the city.

Mayor Jon Netts said he felt it was more appropriate to spend the money on infrastructure that will benefit all residents, rather than picking a handful of homes.

In the end Nobile agreed to go along with the five-year plan. "I personally want to look at this again, but for this year, where we are, this close, we should just stay on track for this year," he said.

The agenda item passed unanimously.

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