Eastpointe City Council decides on 2019 CDBG distributions

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published February 25, 2019

 Thanks to Community Development Block Grant funds from the federal government, the Eastpointe Fire Department will be able to purchase a new set of turnout gear for its firefighters, such  as those pictured, and replace aging water hoses.

Thanks to Community Development Block Grant funds from the federal government, the Eastpointe Fire Department will be able to purchase a new set of turnout gear for its firefighters, such as those pictured, and replace aging water hoses.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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EASTPOINTE — At its Feb. 19 meeting, the Eastpointe City Council selected how the city will distribute its federal Community Development Block Grant funds for 2019.

Having received $137,246, it was determined that $60,000 would go to the Eastpointe Fire Department, $54,746 would be directed for improvements at two Eastpointe parks, while the remainder would be distributed to local charities and nonprofits.

“The money comes from the federal government. Congress has set specific limitations on spending categories and spending areas regarding household income in order to obtain stated desired objectives,” said Eastpointe City Manager Joseph Sobota. “We’re part of the Urban County program through Macomb County. They, in turn, distribute the funds to communities like ours based on a formula.”

Of the charity and nonprofit distributions, $9,000 went to the Care House of Macomb County, $500 to Helping Hands Gifts, $1,000 to Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers, $2,000 to the Macomb County Warming Center, $4,000 to the Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team, $500 for Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan, $500 to the Macomb Homeless Coalition and $5,000 to Turning Point Inc.

The money designated for the Fire Department will go toward two specific areas: replacing sections of fire hose and buying a second set of turnout gear for firefighters.

“Each of our firefighters have two sets of firefighter turnout gear,” explained Deputy Chief Nick Sage. “The newest set, their primary set, was purchased in 2016. Most of the second sets of gear is near the 10-year (National Fire Protection Association) mandated lifespan. I expect we’ll be able to purchase a brand-new set for each firefighter. This is a significant gain.”

Sage said that the fire hose also is in need of replacement. If not replaced within its mandated lifespan, equipment could fail while deployed in the field.

“Some of our supply hose exceeds the NFPA standard on lifespan,” he added. “This grant opportunity allows us to replace approximately 2,000 feet of hose that needs to be retired. … We’re appreciative of city administration and council for the thoughtfulness to consider this grant opportunity to help field some of our equipment costs.”

The park money will be used to improve Roxana and Goetz parks. Eastpointe Administrative and Management Supervisor Joe Merucci said that the specifics of how each park would be improved are still being decided.

“We are working on phase one of a program to improve Roxana Park right now, and this would allow for us to begin phase two when we get these funds. We are currently removing a slide and a (broken) swingset. We are putting in trees, park benches, a walking path and a new play structure,” Merucci said. “Goetz Park is more of a passive park, so the additions these funds would allow for would be more like adding benches, more lighting, new trees and so forth.”

Merucci said the CDBG funds will allow the city to make improvements that probably wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

“We want to see what phase one could get us before we make firm plans on how we use this money. We won’t be getting the funds for several months, and we can’t spend it until we have it anyway. Playground structures are very expensive. We believe a playground structure can run up to $40,000, so that would deplete a lot of the funds we have to work with, so this CDBG money would come at a great time. We are contemplating adding a drinking fountain, a pavilion with electricity and a few other ideas. Neither are major parks, but they would both mean big improvements for their neighborhoods.”

Sobota said the money will be used for improvements necessary for the safety and quality of life of Eastpointe residents that otherwise would need to come out of the city’s general fund.

“The city would be required to purchase the fire hose and turnout gear anyways, because it’s needed, out of the general fund, so this is a new way to pay for something the city needs,” he explained. “We do not have a specific plan for the park funds; however, at the time that the plan was initially drafted, these were the only two parks that qualified for the funds. We already were working on Roxana Park, but this will allow a second stage of work to proceed.”

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