City pursuing overpass funds

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

Clovis city commissioners chose a railroad overpass project over three other less extensive projects to submit for a Community Development Block Grant at Thursday night’s regular commission meeting.

According to commissioners, they opted for the overpass construction project because it benefits the most people in the community and has a good chance of being funded. Sandy Chancey, the city’s grant facilitator, said the Community Development Council has been leaning toward street and sewer projects.

Chancey presented the pros and cons of each project which is eligible for the $50,000 grant. The city employee explained the projects must meet one of three criteria: Benefit low and moderate income people, prevention or elimination of slums or blight, or community development needs having a particular urgency because existing condition pose a serious and immediate threat to the health or welfare of the community.

The first choice brought before the commission was replacing sidewalks, curbs and gutters in several low income neighborhoods. Chancey said the only drawback to this project would be matching funds of $50,000 would need to come out of the city’s general fund.

Acquiring additional funds for the Mainstreet Program to complete the first phase of their streetscape plan was also broached. Chancey said this project was attractive because the program had a considerable amount of money to apply to matching funds.

The third option presented was the construction of a recycling center that would handle cardboard and plastic. Chancey said this expansive project would require employees and a large matching amount from the general fund.

Acquiring funds to begin the planning of an overpass on Martin Luther King Boulevard was the final project option. Chancey said the overpass project is estimated at $6 million.

Clovis resident Angelina Baca Rodriguez is in favor of the overpass project.

“I know the other projects are important,” Rodriguez said at the meeting. “But I hope the commissioners will look to what funding this project (overpass) will do for Clovis’ future.”

Rodriguez added hospital access and congestion are both valid concerns along MLK. “It’s been two years since Wheaton (street) closed,” she said. “We were promised an overpass so I hope you (commissioners) will give this thoughtful consideration.”

County Commissioner Ed Perales was also in attendance. Perales said he along with his fellow commissioners fully support the construction of an overpass at MLK. “We (county commissioners) have discussed this issue at length in our meetings,” Perales said. “I as a lay person and a constituent and the county commissioners are in full support of this project.”

Perales said his major concern is the location of the hospital, and he believes the construction of an overpass would benefit the community. “The southwest side of town feels like they have been left out to dry,” Perales said. “I will be pushing for this project.”

City Commissioner Robert Sandoval expressed his concern that the Mainstreet project did not meet the criteria necessary to obtain the HUD sponsored grant.

“All four projects are important,” Sandoval said. “I feel the overpass project is the most viable.” Sandoval said.

Commissioner Randall Crowder questioned Chancey if anyone had analyzed which project would benefit the most people.

Chancey responded the overpass would benefit everyone in the community plus those traveling through Clovis.