Federal grant plans focus on inclusive parks, utilities and housing

June 17 – An inclusive park planned for children with special needs and a program to help homeowners renovate homes would receive money as part of Decatur’s proposed use of a federal grant that benefits low-income areas. revenue.

Allen Stover, the city’s community development supervisor, said Decatur is receiving $442,646 in federal Community Development Block Grant funding for fiscal year 2023. Service agencies and a down payment assistance program would receive also money under the CDBG action plan that Stover submitted this week. The city council will consider it for approval on Monday.

The largest allocation from Stover’s plan would provide $168,555 for the planned Everyday Sunshine Park at 1311 19th Ave. SE behind Oak Park Elementary School. It would serve children with special needs as well as other children.

Jeff Sharp, director of the nonprofit Everyday Sunshine, has worked with the city on the project since 2019, when GraceLife Church donated all 30,000 square feet of its property for the inclusive park.

An architect is working on a plan in which CBDG money would pay for site work, parking and signage, Sharp said.

“We had a meeting today,” Sharp said Thursday. “And the key is that we prepare the (architect’s) plan as soon as possible so that we can qualify for the grant.”

Sharp said his plan is to then seek out private companies for each sponsor to sponsor a piece of playground equipment. He would like the playground to have two rotating elements, including a wheelchair-accessible ride, five swings and a special slide.

“The slide is built on a hill, so there is wheelchair access in which the child can move to the slide to go down it,” said Sharp.

One piece of equipment Sharp said he wants is an inclusive zipline swing “it’s amazing,” especially for kids in wheelchairs.

On Sharp’s wish list for the project is an outdoor classroom that he says could be used by Oak Park while serving as a small stage for concerts and events.

The action plan would also divide $66,039 between utility providers for low-income residents. Decatur Youth Services would receive more than half the money at $34,739, and the Morgan County Commission on Aging would receive $15,000.

Other programs receiving money include PACT (Parents and Children Together), Decatur Youth Enrichment, Mental Health Association of Morgan County, and the Volunteer Center for Morgan County.

A new program to receive money would be Community Action Partnership of North Alabama’s Single Family Rehab, to which Stover has allocated $60,000.

Stover said this program would help a resident renovate a home in a low-income area. How much would be available for each approved resident has not been decided, he said.

Stover said one of the most successful parts of the city’s annual use of CBDG funding, the Down Payment Assistance Program, would receive $60,000.

Over the past 17 years, Decatur has allocated $1.36 million to the Down Payment Assistance Program, which provides up to $4,500 to eligible people who have purchased a home in Decatur, Stover said.

The remaining $88,052, or 20% of the grant, is allocated to program administration, which is permitted by the grant rules. The funding is used to pay the salaries and benefits of three employees of the Community Development Department.

[email protected] or 256-340-2432. Twitter @DD_BayneHughes.