Heflin City Council returns grant for handicapped-accessible playground
by Laura Camper
Apr 23, 2013 | 3616 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Heflin City Council voted unanimously to return a grant it was awarded to build a handicapped-accessible playground for the second time.

The city was awarded the $206,000 federally-funded Community Development Block Grant in 2011. The city had planned to prepare the site and install the equipment to provide a $98,762 match for the grant. On Sept. 17, 2012, after the election, former mayor Anna Berry informed the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs the city would not be able to accept the grant because of staffing and administration changes.

The current administration requested and was granted the reinstatement of the funding after taking office. But when the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission reviewed the grant, it found the match had been figured improperly. In addition, Diane Glenn, principal planner for the commission, told the council members at a public hearing in March that the city would also have to hire a landscape architectural firm to oversee the bidding, contracting and to inspect the project. The two changes would require the city to come up with about $130,000 out of the general fund to pay for the playground.

“I think it’s just best if we let this one go,” said Mayor Rudy Rooks. “Not give up on the hope or the dream or the goal of having one there, but maybe let’s just back off a little bit on this one.”

Rooks said he had heard there are trail grants the city could apply for or it could rewrite the CDBG grant to make it a little more realistic for the city to afford.

Councilman Elvin Henson, whose district includes the Community Arts Center, the proposed site of the park, agreed that the city should refuse the grant.

“I think that’s the way we’re going to have to go,” Henson said.

Rooks said the city plans to move forward with installing outdoor restrooms at the Community Arts Center, where the plan to build a park that will include the handicapped-accessible playground.

In other business the council:

[bullet] Renewed a contract with Revenue Discovery Systems to continue collecting and disbursing the city’s sales tax money. The new three-year contract will cost the city $650 a month for the first year, $850 for the second year and $1,050 for the third year, said City Clerk Shane Smith. Audits would cost the city $70 per hour, he said.

[bullet] Voted to add a streetlight in between the city’s civic center and the recreation center.

[bullet] Approved a $1,000 contribution toward a buy-local campaign. Smith said he would approach the Cleburne County Commission and the Ranburne City Council about donations to fund the campaign. The campaign is scheduled to kick off in June.

[bullet] Approved a $500 donation to the Cleburne County High School’s booster club toward a fence around the school’s softball field. The school system has already installed the fence.

[bullet] Recognized members of Boy Scout Troop 206, who attended the meeting to earn a citizenship and community merit badge.

The next council meeting will be May 14.

Staff writer Laura Camper 256-463-2872. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.

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