Gunnison looking at CDBG cash for city park restrooms
GUNNISON—The Gunnison City Council is considering the overhaul of its city park restroom facilities with the help of a federal grant.
At the Jan. 5 council meeting, talk of a possible Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) stirred the discussion on park improvements.
Gunnison City Mayor Bruce Blackham explained that CDBGs are funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Each year, Utah gets money for the CDBG program and distributes it to cities and towns across the state, with an emphasis on affordable housing.
In the past, municipal projects haven’t qualified. “This year, they (the state) have indicated that they have received approval for funding city infrastructure projects,” Blackham said.
To qualify for CDBG funding, a city must prove its average household income is in the low-moderate range. Earlier, Gunnison City Councilman Thayne Carlisle orchestrated a door-to-door survey and confirmed that Gunnison City qualified. Carlisle said the same survey would be valid for several years to come.
Councilman Blake Donaldson suggested that if there was any money left over from the splash pad budget after construction, the balance could be combined with any CDBG funds the city received and put towards improved restrooms.
“The facility we have there now is not adequate,” Donaldson said. “They’re practically closed nine months of the year. During the Fourth of July, city workers were in and out of there every 15 minutes trying to keep things going.”
Carlisle agreed with Donaldson that the park restroom facilities were not up to par.
“I think the most we can get is $50,000 from CDBG,” Blackham said.
Donaldson also suggested a committee be formed to come up with other project ideas. When the weather warms up, construction of the splash pad will begin adjacent to the swimming pool, he said. If the city or a committee could decide on a second project at the park quickly enough, the city could construct both facilities at the same time. That would cut construction costs for the second project, since heavy equipment and workers would already be on site.
“The bathrooms really need some work, and if we could get some grant money to improve them, I think it would be a good project,” Councilman Andy Hill said.
Donaldson suggested the swimming pool committee would be a good panel to consider potential CDBG projects. “There are members from the whole valley; no one has any personal agendas, they all just care about the community. They are already very organized, and I thought they did an excellent job with their work on the splash pad. They put a lot of thought into it.”
Hill said, “I think we should get the splash pad built first, and when we know down to the penny how much that thing is going to cost us, then we can help pay for another project with what’s left.”
Councilman Blane Jensen said there were some complications in estimating how much the splash pad was going to cost.
“We’ve got ourselves in an interesting spot with the splash pad,” Jensen said. “A good spot really, but with all this volunteer work and equipment and donations, we don’t know how much it is going to cost us exactly, so we do not know how much we will spend.”
Blackham suggested getting the ball rolling by talking with the pool committee to get input and seeing where the city should go in the limited time it has to apply for CDBG funding.