Pearland city leaders on Monday discussed ways to best use an expected $429,000 in federal funding.
The city held a second public hearing Monday night on the Community Development Block Grant Program, funding it hopes to receive from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“We get to use these funds at the discretion of our community, within HUD guidelines,” grant administrator Joel Hardy said.
Funds are typically used to remove slums and blight, meet urgent needs and more often, he said, to serve those with low to moderate income. No more than 15 percent can be spent on social services and no more than 20 percent may be spent on program administration.
City staff presented a list of proposals to be considered by the public and the council. Those include: $100,000 for expansion of the Pearland Neighborhood Center, $84,319 toward preservation of the Pearland Train Depot, $80,000 for Forgotten Angels for accessibility improvements, $15,000 on code enforcement, $50,457 toward Knapp Center maintenance and improvements, and $14,000 for Counseling Connections for Change.
Councilman Woody Owens spoke in favor of allocating money to preserve the train depot.
“We’ve got to do something to preserve our past,” he said, “and the train depot at some point in time we’re going to lose that place because of age and not doing anything.”
The public comment period ends Aug. 15, and the plan is expected to be submitted to HUD Aug. 16.
“Sometime in October we will hear back and they will let us know if we can continue our work,” Hardy said.
Though funding also comes through HUD, the Community Block program is different from a Hurricane Harvey disaster recovery grant coming to the city through the General Land Office.
Through this program, $2.7 million may be used for local buyouts and $2.657 can be used for infrastructure improvements in areas affected by Harvey.
“It must serve those that are low to moderate income,” Hardy explained.
Included in the proposed action plan is $300,000 toward a generator to be located at the Recreation Center-Natatorium, which served as a shelter. Areas eligible for infrastructure improvements through the plan are Mimosa Acres, Brookland Acres, Old Townsite and Garden/O’Day areas.
The public comment period for the current action plan ends Aug. 22, and the plan will be submitted to the Texas General Land Office by Sept. 1.
Charter review commission
Among public hearings held Monday was recommendations from a city charter review committee, a group of five residents assembled to fine tune the city charters.
Among recommendations are four-year terms instead of three-year terms, a one-year residency qualification instead of six months and the increase of the maximum fine from $250 to $500 for failure to comply with subpoena in city council investigations.
City Council will decide at a later date, most likely in the fall, whether to send any or all of the proposed charter changes to city voters in May 2020.