The Ridgecrest City Council approved a Community Development Block Grant application for fiscal year 2018-2019 at its meeting Wednesday.


The estimated fair share amount for fiscal year 2018-2019 is $93,544. Combined with reallocated funds and carry-over from previous years this adds up an estimated total of $319,948. This number also includes $89,487 from fiscal year 2015-2016 and $136,917 from fiscal year 2017-2018.


Council voted to use the full amount to continue work begun in fiscal year 2013-2014 on something called the Access Transition Project. According to Public Works Director (and former City Manager) Dennis Speer, the full amount will likely not be available until late next year.


According to a staff report, this project involved an inventory of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) needs in low to moderate income areas and commercial zones, creating a solid inventory database. The inventory included curb ramps, drive approaches and in-fill sidewalks to be evaluated, rated and placed in an eight-year work plan.


Council approved using the fair share amount of $319,948 to complete year two and three of the project. According the report, an estimate is that this would include designing and constructing 28 curb ramps with proper markings as well as 9 drive approaches.


According to Speer, the city is required to address Americans with Disabilities Act compliance needs by having an Access Transition Plan in place or the city risks having funding for federal and state projects withheld.


“This item is a request for the council to conduct a public hearing,” Speer said. “It is the staff's recommendation to use this funding allocation for the continuation of the Access Transition Project from fiscal year 2013-2014 which allows the continuation of replacing non-compliant ramps, curbs and in-fill sidewalks.”


In response to a question from Mayor Peggy Breeden, Speer said that the $89,487 from fiscal year 2015-2016 was originally intended for senior center parking lot improvements but reverted to CDBG project funds when council decided to use tax allocation bond (TAB) funds to repair the parking lot instead.


Speer said the $136,917 from fiscal year 2017-2018 had not been used yet due to issues with the county.


Mike Neel spoke up asking about ADA/wheelchair access in the vicinity of Rite-Aid. Speer replied that city staff is working on the issue.


Dave Matthews spoke up, asking if the public hearing had been opened.


Breeden replied that she and Speer had opened it.


Matthews said he was going to cut to the chase, essentially, and asked “can any of these funds be used to implement some of the ‘Four Projects’ proposal?”


Speer replied no, and said the funds had to be used for ADA compliance.


Could the grant be used to work on Pinney Pool, Matthews asked.


“It could,” Speer replied.


Approval of the application was unanimous. Although the Ridgecrest City Council used their new electronic voting system successfully earlier in the meeting, for some reason it did not work for this vote so the vote was taken verbally.
The Kern County CDBG program is administered by the Kern County Planning and Natural Resources Department.