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City Grant Writer/Administrator Mary Cerise explained to the Salmon City Council what the terms of an available grant would be if the city decides to apply and what happens if it is awarded. She told the August 7 meeting that the city has been approved to apply for a grant targeted at resurfacing city sidewalks on both sides of Main Street and that the grant is in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management.

Cerise said that based on a sidewalk survey done earlier this year by Public Works Superintendent Harry Shanafelt, Councilman Fred Waidely and Engineer Steve Frazee, the condition of 40 year old sidewalks have become a priority, which is why she went in search of a grant that would help fund the work.

The grant, if awarded, would come from the Idaho Transportation Department’s (ITD) ‘Community Choices for Idaho’ program and would specifically target Main Street sidewalks from the Challis Street stop light to the Main Street Bridge. At the Challis Street intersection the sidewalks would be connected with a paved multi-modal path to the Shoup Bridge Recreational Area approximately five miles south of town on Highway 93. The Bureau of Land Management would be involved in the pathway portion of the project. The initial estimated cost of the project, prior to the actual bidding process, is $335,000 which figures out at $7.50 per square foot. Cerise said the absolute ‘hard match’ the city would pay is $24,598 which amounts to 7.34 percent of the total cost and ITD would pay approximately 92 percent.

Councilman Jim Kluesner balked at putting resources towards the Main Street sidewalks and a path to the Shoup Bridge when there are so many unpaved streets in the city and areas without any sidewalks at all. Fred Waidely clarified that the city’s portion of the financial obligation is related only to the in-city sidewalks. He said the path to the Shoup Bridge would be the BLM’s project. Waidely told the council the overall project actually includes a pathway from the Shoup Bridge to the Fairgrounds north of town and the fact it runs through downtown Salmon is what gives the city an opportunity to obtain money for infrastructure improvements. Waidely said the 7.34 percent match means a city expenditure of $7.34 for every $100 spent. “We’ll never get another deal like this.”

Cerise said that having a federal agency partner such as the BLM shows a community effort is being made towards the project and gives the city a much better chance of being awarded the funds. She said the purpose of that evening’s discussion was only to ask the council’s official permission to apply for the grant.

During the Public Comment Period that opened the Wednesday night council meeting several patrons expressed opinions on the project about which they obviously already knew.

Jim Sustaire told the council there are dirt and gravel streets within the city limits and that he thinks it would make more sense to spend money on those streets than on a path to the Shoup Bridge.

As one of the many in-city business owners not allowed to have a vote in city elections due to living outside the city limits, Arlene Orr cited a lawsuit currently faced by the city as a possible upcoming expense and said since the Orr’s place of business currently doesn’t have enough water pressure to supply the needs of its customers, perhaps it would be a better idea to put tax dollars to work on the city’s water system rather than fund a path to the Shoup Bridge.

As the City Council’s discussion of the potential project proceeded, Councilman Jim Bockelman agreed with both Kluesner and Waidely and added there is a city department head, Harry Shanafelt, who has identified sidewalks as a priority due to past and present issues. He said he thinks the grant, if obtained, is an opportunity to address a priority and to enhance the entire area.

Councilman Ken Hill agreed with Waidely and Bockelman.

Councilman Jim Baker said it is the listed maximum amount of $97,000 that bothers him. Cerise replied that is not a hard dollar amount, it is match plus in-kind work at this stage of the process. She said until the grant is confirmed there are no finite numbers and that there is no city commitment of actual dollars connected to the act of applying for the grant. Baker maintained that ‘in-kind’ work by city crews does cost money and said he would not be in favor of removing sidewalks that are still in good shape.

Engineer Steve Frazee was called on for his opinion and he said not all of the Main Street sidewalks need replacement however safety and possible litigation issues were pinpointed in the sidewalk inventory. Baker advocated just fixing the problem areas and Cerise said that is not an option with the size of this infrastructure project and this particular grant.

City Finance Director Amy Fealko reported $75,000 is presently available for use in the city’s Streets and Alleys fund. Bockelman urged going forward with the grant application.

The roll call vote on whether or not to apply for the ITD Community Choices for Idaho grant was three to two in favor. Those in favor were Bockelman, Hill and Waidely. Baker and Kluesner voted against proceeding with an application and Jesse Bender abstained.

The grant application is due by September 3rd and grant award announcements will be made this October. Awarded projects will be able to access the funding in early December 2013 and will have until the end of September 2014 to complete the project for which funds are awarded.

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