Ranburne residents hear of road improvement plan
by Laura Camper
Jun 28, 2013 | 4520 views |  0 comments | 262 262 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RANBURNE — City officials Thursday told residents of plans to apply for a grant to widen and repave parts of Georgia Avenue and Lake, South Cook, Pollard and Truett streets.

“I’ve been begging for this for years,” said Tevin Wilkinson as he walked in and took a seat for a public hearing concerning the plans. About 20 attended the hearing at the Ranburne Senior Citizen Center.

The roads aren’t safe, said Wilkinson, who lives on Lake Street.

“When somebody comes up there flying, you can hear the gravel flying,” he said.

The city is applying for a federal Community Block Development Grant to pay to widen the roads, improve the drainage and repave. Originally, the city had planned to pave Georgia Avenue all the way to the city line, an estimated cost of $451,000. But it scaled back its original plans to meet the grant qualifications.

The grants must be used to address specific objectives including at least 51 percent low to moderate income residents benefiting from the project. The project should create a suitable living environment, said Diane Glenn, principal planner and grant writer for the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission.

Mayor Owen Lowery went to every door along the roads the city wanted to work on and collected income surveys, Glenn said. As she organized the information, she found that the residents on Georgia Avenue past South Cook Street were not within the eligible income levels, Glenn added.

Under the revised plans the city will repave Georgia Avenue to a culvert just past Cook Street, Lowery said. That will bring the estimated cost of the project down to $332,950, Glenn said.

The news disappointed some of the residents who attended.

Garry Hyatt, whose house is on Georgia Avenue beyond the area where the revised plan would repave, said the whole road needs the work and it’s just too narrow.

“I done hit a garbage can one morning coming in,” Hyatt said after the meeting. “I had to hit the garbage can or hit somebody head on.”

The CDBG grant comes from a federal allocation of $20.7 million to the state of Alabama. The state divides the allocation into different funds, Glenn said. Ranburne is applying for a grant from the Small City Fund, Glenn said.

The city will be competing against cities with populations of less than 3,000.

“If you know much about the state of Alabama you know that that is a lot of cities,” Glenn said. “The competition is fierce.”

Because of that, Glenn suggested Ranburne go beyond the requirements to apply for the grant. For instance, as a city with a population below 1,000 Ranburne isn’t required to match any of the grant with its own money. Glenn suggested the council members consider doing so anyway to improve the city’s chances of winning the grant, Glenn said.

One of the residents asked how much the city could put toward the project.

Lowery said the city would try its best.

“We lost the grocery store. We lost the junkyard and you can say all you want to about a junkyard, they pay tax,” Lowery said.

The city doesn’t have extra money, he said

After the meeting, Ranburne resident H.J. Kamp said he was grateful for whatever the city could do.

“I wish they could do the whole road, but if they can’t, they can’t,” Kamp said.

The application deadline for the grant is Aug. 19. The city should know in October whether it will be awarded any money, Glenn said.

Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.
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