Grant money to pave the way for new sidewalks in Pell City
by David Atchison
PELL CITY — A sidewalk may be coming to a neighborhood near you after the City Council passed a resolution Monday night to secure grant money for pedestrian improvements.

“I don’t have a preference,” Mayor Joe Funderburg said. “We need to look at where the need is the greatest.”

Apparently in 2008 the city was awarded a grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation for sidewalks, but the city never used the grant money, said Louise Campbell, the city’s grant writer.

“I did not write this grant,” Campbell told the mayor and council. “I think it came from the (Birmingham) Regional Planning Commission.”

The grant amount is more than a quarter-million dollars, $266,666. The city’s match is $66,666 for a total project cost of $333,332, which includes design, construction and inspection costs.

Campbell said the grant is still valid, and the council approved a resolution to proceed with securing the grant funds at Monday night’s meeting.

Councilwoman Dot Wood said former Mayor Bill Hereford would not put the grant proposal on the council agenda.

“He would not put it on the agenda because the city did not have the money,” she said.

City officials said the city can secure the local match for a sidewalk project and would not need the matching funds until next fiscal year, after Oct. 1.

“I think it is something we definitely need to look at,” council President James McGowan said.

Initially, the grant request was for a sidewalk project in the Glenn City area, but city officials said the original scope of the project could change.

Campbell said in 2008, the city proceeded in the procurement of professional engineering services, selecting an engineer from ALDOT’s pre-approved listing of engineers.

She said the firm of Hatch Mott McDonald was selected.

“It appears that a preliminary scope of work was submitted to ALDOT, but no contract was entered into between the city and the engineering firm,” Campbell said.

She said the grant agreement expired Dec. 31, 2009, so no further action was taken.

However, Campbell said, ALDOT sent a “supplemental agreement,” which eliminated the expiration date of the grant.

“As a result, the grant is still in effect and a decision is needed by the City Council to authorize the supplemental agreement number one,” Campbell told the mayor and council at last week’s work session.

On Monday, the council approved a resolution to enter into a supplemental agreement with ALDOT for the pedestrian improvement project.

Funderburg said city officials need to survey the city to determine where there is the greatest need for sidewalks or sidewalk improvements.

“I want to use the funds where there is the greatest need,” he said. “That could be in Glenn City or the Mill Village.

He said sidewalks can improve city access for pedestrians, but more importantly it improves pedestrian safety.

“We have X amount of dollars,” Funderburg said. “Where the need is the greatest is where I want to apply these funds.”

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© 2013