Council cancels CDBG-funded sidewalk on Franklin Street

In their final item of the year, Council agreed to cancel a project to build a sidewalk on Franklin Street using federal funds that come through the Community Development Block Grant process. The project had been selected by a task force but was defunded earlier this year because it could not be completed by a federal deadline. 

Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders recommended Council consider moving away from the task force model. 

“Routinely, a task force model doesn’t necessarily help to meet the regulatory conditions because typically what you’re doing is simply allowing community members to pick projects and they don’t necessarily always know the details that go into executing,” Sanders said. 

In 2017, the city selected the Belmont neighborhood to be the recipient of CDBG funds and a task force recommended $204,263 funding go toward the Franklin Street sidewalk. This spring, staff said they would seek to reallocate funds back to the project, but Sanders had concerns it would once again not be completed in time to meet a May 2022 deadline. 

“Engineering complications exist today in order for us to be able to move forward,” Sanders said. “The reality is it should not have been selected.” 

Sanders, who has only been with the city since August, said the process is flawed. In addition, Sanders said this project did little to address low-income residents. 

Council agreed to cancel the project. Sanders will return with an update to the city’s ordinance to eliminate the task force’s role in favor of a staff advisory body that would seek input from the Planning Commission and Council. 

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