(Posted June 16, 2016)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The Madison County commissioners firmed up their application for this year’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) allocation.
The county is eligible for $120,000 in federal funds to improve infrastructure and remove blighted buildings. Their targeted projects are both in London—demolition of a former church on West Fourth Street and replacement of traffic control signals in the downtown area.
The funding is guaranteed as long as the county’s requests meet the grant guidelines. The application was filed June 17. The funds will become available this fall, likely in October, said Whitaker Wright of CDC of Ohio, the firm hired by the county to administer its CDBG grants.
The county is applying for $65,000 to tear down the former First Baptist Church, which sits on property the county purchased last year. The long vacant building has fallen into disrepair. According to Wright, wildlife is living in it and vagrants have used it as shelter.
“The big concern is the bell tower. The risk of harming someone is severe,” said Wright, noting the dilapidated tower could fall down in a bad storm.
Of the $65,000 estimated cost, $15,000 is set aside for possible asbestos abate-ment. Once funding is secured, the first order of business will be to determine if the old building contains asbestos, Wright said. Parts of the structure are over 130 years old. Once the asbestos status is determined, the goal will be to put the demolition project out to bid in February when contractors are hungry for work and prices might be more competitive, Wright said.
The county also is applying for $31,000 to help the city of London replace traffic lights on Main Street, from Fourth Street to Center Street. The city has committed $31,500 to the project. Any funds leftover from the church demolition will go toward the light project.
The existing lights were installed in the 1990s and are at the end of their useful life, Wright said. The fixtures are incandescent lights. Bulbs and parts are no longer available to repair or replace the fixtures.
“The new lights will be LEDs (light emitting diodes) and cost considerably less to operate,” he said.
As required by law, the CDBG application also sets aside funds for program administration and the standard fair housing program. That amount is $24,000.