CDBG grant

Councilman Charles Broady discusses sewer issues within his district while standing near a manhole on Oden Street, a section of street slated to have new and improved sewer lines next year.

City receives $750K community development grant for the work

City residents in the Ware Street area will have “like new” sewer lines by the middle of next year.

The City of Blackshear has received a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for sewer system improvements through neighborhoods along Ware Street, Sycamore Street and Oden Street.

The grant was announced last Thursday by the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and Governor Brian Kemp’s office. Blackshear’s award is one of $41 million in federal grants that will be distributed to 59 communities across the state for infrastructure projects.

Mayor Kevin Grissom was excited to hear the news last Friday.

“That’s great news!,” Grissom says.

“I am ecstatic. This is something,” agrees Councilman Charles Broady. “This is really going to help us get some things done.”

The project area lies within District Four, the district Broady currently represents.

Broady is in the middle of his first term on city council, but has lived in District Four for years. Sewer issues have been a problem in the neighborhood for a long time, he says.

The city has been “sitting on go” since they applied for the grant, Grissom says.

Much of the preliminary project work has already been done, but after receiving the funds, the city will have to advertise and bid out the work. Hofstadter and Associates, Inc., a Macon-based company, is serving as the city’s engineer for the project.

Chris Wright, Blackshear’s special projects coordinator and police chief, expects the work won’t be completed until next year. Once work begins, the job will take less than six months, Wright says.

Improvements will include a process called pipe bursting which does not require tearing up roads to unearth old lines. Crews will start at one manhole and use a winch to pull new pipe lining through the old clay pipes, effectively replacing them without digging them out. That new lining has a 40-year warranty.

The total project cost is estimated to be $1,048,045 with the city providing $298,045 in matching funds to the CDBG monies. The city’s match portion has already been budgeted for through USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) monies received earlier this year for sewer system rehabilitation and construction of a new wastewater treatment plant. SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) dollars are also set aside for these types of projects.

CDBG funding comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), but is administered on the state level by DCA. The grant program is available annually to eligible local governments through a competitive application process.

Approved CDBG projects create jobs and/or assist citizens with low and moderate incomes in some way. Nearly 99 percent of individuals affected by the city’s sewer system improvement project are low to moderate income.

Of this year’s grant awards, $38 million will go to infrastructure projects, such as neighborhood revitalization, construction of community facilities, and water, sewer, drainage, or street improvements. An additional $2.95 million will be disbursed through the Employment Incentive Program (EIP) and the Redevelopment Fund, which together are projected to create 192 new jobs and generate $70.4 million in additional private investment.

Over the past decade, Georgia’s CDBG program has provided resources for critical water and sewer improvements serving more than 177,000 residents in rural areas. Blackshear representatives will receive the CDBG funds later this Fall.

“I look forward to recognizing these outstanding communities at our annual Fall Conference,” says DCA Commissioner Christopher Nunn. “The CDBG recipients embody careful planning, hard work, and dedication to improving their communities.”