By Lyra Bordelon
A light meeting of the Alderson Town Council on Thursday, Dec. 10, saw a hopeful public hearing for a multimillion dollar grant application and minor updates for both the future of the Community Center and Bridge Trust.
A public hearing was held, allowing the town to apply for an approximately $2 million Community Development Block grant to fund the upcoming $6 million water infrastructure project in the works.
Leslie Taylor and Jamie Baker with Region 4 Planning and Development Council were available for questions, but the only two community members who spoke up only spoke in favor of the project. Taylor explained the original, and current, outlook of the project.
“In January 2020, this project came before the Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council (IJDC) and established a funding recommendation of an 875,000 IJDC District 3 grant, 125,000 Infrastructure Council Soft Cost grant, and a IJDC District 3 loan with a 1 percent interest rate for 40 years on $5,637,000, for a total project cost of $6,637,000,” Taylor explained.
If this grant application is successful, it would drastically reduce the amount of the loan.
“With this funding revision, with the request to seek a $2 million community development block grant, our funding has now changed to $1 million IJDC grant, a $2 million community development block grant, and then an IJDC District loan of $3,637,000 [with the same interest rate],” Taylor said. “The project cost is unchanged.”
Taylor complimented the quickness of the city in getting needed data for the application. In September, Todd Riggs, also known as Hoss, went door-to-door in town, surveying 431 water customers in the city, asking for income information, a critical, but often difficult step in the application.
“You and your staff did an excellent job of getting the income surveys,” Tayler said. “You got them very expeditiously and you got them to us, so we were able to calculate your low to moderate income percent, and we appreciate you doing that so quick.
“That was Hoss, he took care of getting those surveys door-to-door,” replied Copenhaver. “The question is, what was our percent once you got that back?”
After finding the number, Baker said it “looks like 61.92 percent … that are below the low to moderate income.”
“We needed to be [51 percent], so we were 10 percent over where we needed to be,” Copenhaver said jokingly. “That’s good. It’s good to be poor, it helps us get grants. … I really believe, because Hoss is the most honest person I could put out to do it, the information is very factual. People were very honest with him, I was impressed with the response to the survey.”
If the grant application is successful, Copenhaver noted, “essentially we would cut that in half with grant funding. Roughly.”
In other business:
The potential future of the Alderson Community Center as the new Alderson Elementary School was not ready for council action, but Copenhaver reported that the engineers have met and there are no red flags for the proceeding. The Greenbrier County Board of Education would like a memorandum of understanding from the town so they prepare for the project, but the draft was not yet complete.
Potential action on the Alderson Bridge Trust was tabled after Copenhaver and City Attorney Grady Ford were unable to meet.