by Tim Hennagir
Blaine council members have approved a $202,498 community development block grant (CDBG) allocation for improvements at two city-owned apartments.
Bob Fiske, community standards director, explained the CDBG funding request Jan. 19 during a Blaine council workshop.
The funding resolution was unanimously approved.
The federal money will be used to complete interior and exterior repair work at Cloverleaf Courts, 1011 Cloverleaf Parkway, and Blaine Courts, 701 85th Ave.
Blaine has excess CDBG funds that must be spent on local projects, Fiske said.
Eventually, if the federal grant money isn’t used, it’s returned to Anoka County, then the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The Blaine Area Development Co. (BADC) uses the funds to provide loans to local businesses.
The BADC fund is limited to a $300,000 account balance. The fund currently has an excess balance of $500,000, Fiske said.
Linda Barthel, the city’s housing specialist, worked with Fiske to review a list of capital budget items that were proposed for both buildings in coming years.
The 2012 capital budget previously contained a recommendation to renovate and upgrade the community room at Cloverleaf Courts, but that recommendation was removed from the scheduled for budget reconsideration in a future year, Fiske said.
The Cloverleaf Courts project included the replacement of all tables and chairs in the community room, replacement of the window treatments and replacement of counters and cupboards.
This work would also include electrical, plumbing, flooring and new small appliances; the project’s total estimated cost is $51,778.
Fiske said the 13-year-old building hadn’t been upgrade since it was built.
At Blaine Courts, there are several projects under current capital budget consideration, Fiske said.
The largest project addresses concerns and issues that have been a problem in the past pertaining to building drainage into the parking lot that causes ice issues in the winter months.
The parking lot also needs general repair.
This project would add gutters and downspouts from the garages and the apartment building and drain the runoff into new underground drain pipes directly into the storm sewer, which would eliminate the ice issue in the parking lot.
In addition to the parking lot upgrades, Fiske said city staff recommenced three smaller projects at Blaine Courts.
Those projects include replacement and updating of the monument sign, the exterior lights on the building, garages and parking lot. Three garage doors and their openers would be replaced as well, Fiske said.
The total estimated cost for the Blaine Courts project work is $120,681.
Fiske also presented a request for several miscellaneous items to be completed at Blaine Courts, namely new paint and furniture for the lobby, replacement of seven air conditioners, elevator upgrades, a new phone system and new door entry system. The estimated cost for those improvements is $21,785. Both buildings will get boiler upgrades.
According to Fiske, on Nov. 10, 2011 a state inspection and correction notice was issued for the installation of new reset controls and emergency shut-off switches for the boilers at both Cloverleaf Courts and Blaine Courts.
Fiske said Twin Cities Christian Homes (TCCH), which operates both Cloverleaf Courts and Blaine under contract, has had discussions with a state inspector and has received approval to make the changes over the next two years.
Using CDBG funding would enable the city to make the boiler changes during the summer when the equipment isn’t running.
Fiske said that the estimated cost of the boiler improvements is $8,254.
The CDBG funds don’t require federal payback, Fiske said, adding the city also benefits by being able to reduce its capital budget expenditures in future years.
Bryan Schafer, community development director, said the apartment building improvement projects would be subject to standard bidding procedures.
Tim Hennagir is at firstname.lastname@example.org