City plans to help with trees

Original order unpopular with residents

The gripes may have borne fruit.

The city plans to all­o­cate about $31,000 in Community Development Block Grant money to help qualifying residents — many on Seventh and Eighth streets — comply with a recent, unpopular order to trim or fell trees that are interfering with Amtran’s new, taller Compressed Natural Gas buses.

It’s a sensible plan, said Councilman Dave Butterbaugh at a City Council meeting Wednesday. Butterbaugh previously agreed with residents who said the order was unfair, given that the city planted the trees initially about 30 years ago.

The city isn’t taking applications yet, and officials still need to work out details, including guidelines for providing help, according to City Manager Marla Marcinko.

Typically, CDBG recipients must be low-to-moderate-income, although it’s not certain whether individual recipients would need to meet that requirement for the proposed assistance, or whether living in an LTM census tract would suffice, according to Marcinko.

The help may be available both for tree and sidewalk maintenance, and would likely not be confined to those on Seventh and Eighth streets, where the bulk of the prop­e­r­ties are whose owners rec­ei­ved orders from the Department of Public Works in October, according to Marcinko.

“We’re still working a lot of it out,” said Community Development Director Lee Slusser.

The city has CDBG money available because it will begin soon using the general fund, rather than the CDBG fund, to pay for its bike patrol and LTM-area code officer, to free those programs from CDBG regulations that in recent times has meant paying for them out of the general fund anyway.

The money for tree and sidewalk maintenance would come from the city’s 2017-2018 CDBG allocation, and it needs to be spent before long, according to Marcinko.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.