The Ladysmith Common Council voted 7-0, Monday, Nov. 9, to contract with an engineering firm as part of the process of seeking grant funding for outdoor recreational improvements at a new community center under development in the city.

The city council approved unanimously a $2,500 proposal from Short Elliott Hendrickson to submit “intent to apply” documents as part of a possible future Community Development Block Grant “Coronavirus” grant application. 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 provided for a supplemental appropriation of Community Development Block Grants as authorized by the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 as amended. 

The State of Wisconsin received CDBG-CV funding for Wisconsin non-entitlement units of government through the CARES Act. These funds must be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to Coronavirus.

Example projects include renter assistance/emergency payments for up to six months; business assistance grants; micro-enterprise business assistance grants; food bank/pantry, expansion, restocking, establishment; PPE purchases; transitional housing; childcare/daycare centers; homeless shelters; senior centers, drug abuse programs and isolation centers; temporary housing; provide in-home services such as meal/grocery delivery, medicine, to quarantined individuals and assistance to communities to address LMI student needs to access online classes.

City officials want to use a CDBG-CV award to help finance outdoor improvements at the site of the former elementary school northwest of the intersection of Lindoo Avenue and E. Sixth Street S.

Tax Incremental District funds will finance the cost. After the intent to apply, future expenses are expected to be $4,500 for the funding grant application and $25,000 for the funding grant administration.

About $1 million in CDBG-CV money is available in various regions of the state, including the northwest region. No municipal match money is required.

Projects considered for this money include repaving parking areas and roads within the confines of the community center, re-furbishing the playground and adding amenities to the site such as restrooms, lighting, skate park and a paved area that could be used for basketball or pickleball. 

Community Development Committee members at a Nov. 4 meeting prioritized the restrooms and the refurbished playground.

City officials are seeking a larger separate CDBG grant to finance community center building and infrastructure improvements.

“It was determined it would be smart to apply for the smaller Community Development Block Grant that has no match required other than the cost of doing the grant and using SEH to write the grant to do some of the outside improvements there,” said Ald. Brian Groothousen, who is the chairman of the Community Development Committee.

The funding source could be TID 8 or the new TID 12 that has yet to be formally established.

The intent to apply does not obligate the city to the subsequent steps requiring added expenditures to apply and administer the grant.

“It did not seem many people were aware of this grant, so it made sense to apply for this one,” Groothousen said. “This is just to get the ball rolling.”

In other matters, the council was told:

— About a Nov. 2 joint meeting of the personal and finance committees where members went into closed session to review and make possible recommendation to the city council on 2021 public works employee wages. Groothousen said the committee asked for final numbers from city hall before any action is taken.

— Voted 5-2 to approve a the low bid of $2,536 from Kiewit’s Lock & Security of Rice Lake to rekey about 38 locks at the city’s new public works building at the former U.S. Army Reserve Center on Summit Avenue. Tru-Lock & Security of Eau Claire submitted a $2,727 bid. The cost was not part of the $1.25 million building retrofit from military Army use to city public works use. It was noted the street shop is now completely moved into the facility and the water shop move is nearly completed. The new locks will help restrict access throughout the building

— About the city’s effort to establish a quiet zone in the city so train horns are not required to sound in the municipality. It was suggested the state might be willing to fund medians at the Wis. 27 north crossing and Tanker Road, which intersects between the gates at the crossing, could be closed with new access granted toward the west off W. 11th Street N.

— Heard the city will hold a joint meeting with county officials in closed session on the Methodist Church ad hoc Committee as city officials seek ways of addressing the dilapidated structure downtown near the southwest corner of Miner Avenue and E. Third Street. City officials intended to attend, but noted county officials may not. The county took ownership of the property after taxes by the prior owner went unpaid for several years as the church fell into greater disrepair. Recent estimates put the cost of razing the structure at about $90,000.

— Heard Police Chief Kevin Julien report one officer had been in quarantine from the coronavirus and two officers recently had responded to homes where there were individuals with COVID-19.

— Heard an update on a conceptual plan to allow “tiny homes” below the current city code now requiring at least 720 square feet of floor space. The conditional use permits would be granted by the city’s plan commission, which is expected to consider the concept at its next meeting. The concept is similar to another change earlier this year that allowed multi-family building in single family zoned areas of the city under a conditional use permit.

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