Ranburne officials await word on road grant
by Laura Camper
Oct 15, 2013 | 2534 views |  0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Early next month, Ranburne should hear whether it will receive a $300,000 grant to widen and improve some of its roads, but the wait is difficult, town officials say.

The town has applied to the grant program before, but lost out, said Pam Richardson, the town clerk. She thought they had a pretty good chance the last time, she added.

“We’ve dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's,” Mayor Owen Lowery said Tuesday morning. “Hopefully we’ve got a good chance.”

If Ranburne is awarded, the money will be used to widen and improve the drainage on Georgia Avenue and connecting streets Lake, South Cook, Pollard and Truett.

The town applied for a Community Development Block Grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs in August. The Ranburne Town Council allocated $75,000 toward the town’s match for the grant. That’s more than the required 20 percent of the project’s cost, a move to improve the chances of Ranburne being awarded the money, council members said at the meeting. Now, they’re waiting.

The grants are competitive, with many applicants each year. The grants are divided into pools for large cities, small cities and counties. Ranburne, with a population of 409, applied for the small cities grant.

There were 50 applicants for the grant, more than usual, said Shabbir Olia, CDBG manager for the department.

“It’s a little more competitive this year,” Olia said.

The department is still reviewing applications, and winners may not be announced until November, he said. The department considers factors such as community need, cost efficiency, the number of people the project would benefit and the impact of the project. It’s a complicated process, he said.

For instance, Olia said one town may want to install larger pipes to increase water pressure to 100 people; another may want to install pipes that would deliver water to 30 people. In the first example more people would benefit, but in the second example, 30 residents getting city water for the first time would have a greater impact, he said.

It’s a difficult decision every year, compounded by the fact that the department’s funding for the grants has gone down every year for the last 10, he said.

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

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