In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, city commissioners want Community Development Block Grant [CDBG] funds to be spent on items that will help after the next hurricane hits Wilton Manors.
Every year, the city is awarded CDBG funds from the federal government. The money is supposed to be spent to improve areas that have been designated as having blight. The Highlands, the neighborhood which is north of Northeast 26 Street between Five Points and Northeast 6 Avenue, and the area west of Andrews Avenue qualify as areas that can benefit from the funding.
This year, the city has been awarded $65,000 to be spent in 2019. Once the commission has voted on how to spend the money, city staff will fill out the application. The deadline to apply is in December. In previous years, the grant funds have been used for a parking lot next to Island City Park Preserve, park fencing, park fitness stations, sidewalks, a drainage system, solar lighting, landscaping and street resurfacing.
Todd DeJesus, special projects and grants manager, said it’s easier if the city chooses one item to spend the grant on because multiple items are more complicated when it comes to successfully applying for money.
Mayor Gary Resnick suggested the money might be used to improve drainage and reduce flooding. He also suggested a generator at Mickel Park to operate the free WiFi system that was recently installed there. The next park to be wired for free WiFi will be Island City Park Preserve.
Resnick said the city directs people to places with power and WiFi after a storm, but the city should have its own “solution” for residents to charge their phones and connect to WiFi. Commissioner Julie Carson said she’d like the money spent on solar lighting.
Rather than a generator, Commissioner Tom Green suggested smaller solar-powered seating kiosks, which contain electrical outlets and would be a lower-cost way to provide power for residents who need to charge their smart phones. DeJesus said it would be better to purchase those items with city funding. Using the money to replace lost trees on city property was also suggested and DeJesus suggested using the Tree Trust grant program instead.