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Project Spotlight: Mankato Housing

Photo of downtown Mankato apartment

Renovation of four loft apartments in downtown Mankato was included in one of the city’s recent housing projects.

Long-time City of Mankato Mayor Don Koester credits a strategic planning meeting 16 years ago with helping the community chart a course to address its housing needs.

“We asked the community what needed to be done,” Koester said. “As a council, we took the ideas and tried to prioritize the biggest needs.”

That meeting was in his first year as mayor and he continues to serve in that role. Housing was among the list of priorities identified.

The community received a boost when it was awarded funds in 2005 through the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce. The funding was part of a Comprehensive Development project that included construction of a new multi-purpose community building, park and street improvements, and housing demolition and rehabilitation. The Comprehensive Development Program is no longer offered.

“The housing in that first project was targeted right around the community center,” Koester said. “It made a small area so you could see a big impact. It was very successful.”

The city has since received funding for two additional housing rehabilitation projects through the CDBG Program. In total, the projects have helped rehabilitate 28 homes and demolish 18 dilapidated units.

“Our work is not complete with housing, but it is certainly going in the right direction,” Koester said. “If you can rehabilitate a house and stop it from going downhill, you keep it a viable housing unit for your community. You can stop that cycle of decline.”

The city is now in the process of deciding next steps to address some infrastructure needs.

“Infrastructure goes together with housing,” Koester said. “We are trying to look at things at a big scale for more years knowing that we will enhance what is there (housing) by what we do next.”

NCRPC Housing Director Carol Torkelson has administered all three housing projects in Mankato and credits the community for putting in the work to address housing.

“The City of Mankato committed to saving the existing housing stock and removing dilapidated structures,” Torkelson said. “It is something they could bring to their citizens at minimal cost to the city.”

There are many great things happening in North Central Kansas. The Project Spotlight series features projects around the region to share ways communities have solved challenges. To view more Project Spotlights, visit http://www.ncrpc.org/tag/project-spotlight/.

This article appeared in the September 2019 NCRPC Newsletter.



Project Spotlight: Waterville Drainage

The City of Waterville, a town of approximately 680 people located in Marshall County, was awarded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to make drainage improvements throughout the city. Although drainage systems are often overlooked by residents and visitors to a community, problems occur when these systems fail.

The recent drainage improvement project in the City of Waterville included this intersection near the historic Waterville Opera House.

The 2017 award of $199,788 came from the Kansas Department of Commerce Small Cities CDBG Program in the Community Facilities category.  The city provided an equal amount in matching funds through City cash. NCRPC Assistant Director Emily Benedick administered the project.

“Utilizing the CDBG funding, as well as local City cash, Waterville made noticeable improvements to their city’s drainage system throughout town,” Benedick said.

The project consisted of replacing 3,420 linear feet of concrete curb and gutter, installing or replacing 10 inlets, installing 2 manholes, installing a flume grate, 18 linear feet of concrete flume and 10 linear feet of trench drain, and installing 413 linear feet of storm sewer. Also included was the installation of 21 ADA concrete curb ramps and 160 square yards of concrete sidewalk. Additional concrete work included replacement of 215 square yards of driveways connected to the curb & gutter and 1,272 square yards of concrete patching to transition between the new curb and the existing street.

Installing or replacing 10 storm inlets were one part of Waterville’s drainage project.

In the planning process, the city’s governing body and staff worked to review areas of need and prioritize those based on their location and impact to citizens and city maintenance programs. Completion of this project addressed the most problematic areas throughout the city’s drainage system.

“The most noticeable change by far is cosmetically speaking,” Waterville Mayor Josh Stoudt said. “The curbs and guttering look great. I would definitely recommend this program and hope to utilize it again in the future for Waterville.”

For more information about the CDBG Program, visit  www.kansascommerce.gov/cdbg or contact the NCRPC Community Development staff.

There are many great things happening in North Central Kansas. The Project Spotlight series features projects around the region to share ways communities have solved challenges. To view more Project Spotlights, visit http://www.ncrpc.org/tag/project-spotlight/.

This article appeared in the May 2019 NCRPC Newsletter.

 



Project Spotlight: Lincoln Power Plant

A new generator has improved the reliability of the power supply in the City of Lincoln Center.

A basic need of any community is to have steady, reliable electricity. Residents, businesses and visitors all expect and rely upon having electrical power 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

When the City of Lincoln Center was faced with continued problems on its rebuilt electrical power generating engine, the Enterprise, the city knew replacement was the best long-term solution.

The community applied for and was awarded funds from the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce to assist with the cost of the electrical generation upgrade project. The project used approximately $346,000 in CDBG funds. The city contributed nearly $442,000 in City cash and the issuance of bonds.

The older failing engine was replaced with a newer, more reliable engine that will continue to serve the community for many decades.

According to City of Lincoln Power Plant Foreman Jeff Ahring, it was necessary for the city to upgrade the generator. “Prior to the project, in the event that one of our other generators should malfunction, we would not have been able to provide the entire community with enough power to the grid, and as a result, we would have to initiate a “rolling blackout” until the issue was repaired,” Ahring said. “With the addition of the generator this project provided, we are able to provide the power required.”

Now if an incoming utility fails to provide power to the community, the power plant can restore power to the community in a matter of minutes. Ahring also noted the newer engine is a Tier 2, meaning fewer emissions while the engine is producing energy.

NCRPC Community Development Representative Nichole McDaniel administered the project in Lincoln. “The City of Lincoln has been great to work with on this as well as past improvement projects,” McDaniel said. “The recent power plant project has been able to provide the city with confidence that they can provide reliable power to their community.”

There are many great things happening in North Central Kansas communities. Periodically we plan to feature projects from around the region to share ways communities have solved challenges. To view more Project Spotlights, visit http://www.ncrpc.org/tag/project-spotlight/.

This article appeared in the November 2018 NCRPC Newsletter.



Project Spotlight: Miltonvale Park

Tootleville Park is an important part of the City of Miltonvale.

A park is a vital part of many communities. Miltonvale, a town of just over 500 people located south of U.S. Hwy 24, has made many park improvements over the years. Those efforts received a boost when the community was awarded Kansas Department of Commerce Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds under the 2015 Special Round category.

The $350,000 award, coupled with more than $35,500 in local contributions, allowed the city to complete a major park improvement project. This, however, was not the first time the community invested in its park. Approximately 10 years ago volunteers built the “Tootleville Playground” area with the help of more than $100,000 in donated funds. A disc golf course came later. It has become a top course in Kansas with an annual tournament. The city has also renovated a Works Progress Administration (WPA) fountain and added a RV Park using foundation and other local funding sources. The CDBG project helped the city replace band shell seating, construct accessible walkways, construct a veteran’s memorial, improve drainage, install fencing for an existing volleyball court, and construct a picnic shelter and a parking area.

According to NCRPC Assistant Director Emily Benedick, Miltonvale’s approach to solve a community need is still relevant even though the CDBG Special Round of funding no longer exists.

“They may be a small rural community, but they find ways to continuously make improvements throughout the city in order to ensure the best quality of life possible for their residents,” Benedick said. “When cities are able to prove that they can help themselves with or without grant funding, it only improves their chances of receiving grant funds.”

According to Miltonvale City Clerk Darla Bebber, the park is a hub of community activity. This summer it is the location of three free movies and a farmer’s market. It is also popular for weddings, photography, disc golf tournaments, festivals, and RV Park.

“The community is proud of the park and utilizes it extensively as well as out of town visitors,” Bebber said.

Miltonvale is home to a long list of WPA structures, many of which are located in the park. The city plans to continue its park improvements.

“On the horizon we hope to renovate the scout cabin and grill and clean up the creek wall area (all WPA structures). It’s all a part of our history and the hard working people that made this park come to life,” Bebber said. “We are also working on markers that will give the history of the park, Miltonvale and the WPA projects.”

There are many great things happening in North Central Kansas communities. Periodically we plan to feature projects from around the region to share ways communities have solved challenges. To view more Project Spotlights, visit http://www.ncrpc.org/tag/project-spotlight/.

This article appeared in the July 2018 NCRPC Newsletter.

 



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