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Housing coalition will seek EPA funds

Representatives of the Hubbard County Housing Partnership received the Park Rapids Council's blessing Tuesday night to pursue plans to submit a grant application.

Representatives of the Hubbard County Housing Partnership received the Park Rapids Council's blessing Tuesday night to pursue plans to submit a grant application.

Formal approval will be needed before the grant is submitted by the end of April.

Kathy Grell, Sharon Voyda, who is also head of the city Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), and Hal Clapp of the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund (GMHF) attended the meeting.

Grell covered progress made since a countywide housing summit about a year ago. One outcome was the county decision to levy $200,000 for the county HRA, which GMHF is matching.

GMHF also has approved "seed funds" for another project for a targeted area in Park Rapids, Grell said.

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She thanked Clapp for being interested in Park Rapids and helping the coalition. "It's been a lot of hard work with a lot of people in the area involved," she said.

Clapp told the council that in working here since last fall, he is excited about the opportunities for downtown revitalization and the neighborhoods surrounding downtown.

A $20,000 technical assistance grant from GMHF's Building Better Neighborhoods program was submitted and approved, Clapp said. Now GMHF is looking at piloting a core revitalization effort in concert with the plan consultants RDG Planning and Design completed for greater downtown.

Voyda explained an application also will be submitted for $10,000 in federal Environmental Protection Agency funds passed onto the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. This Citizen Participation grant would provide pre-planning funds for projects, including energy audits on homes and assisting residents in reducing their energy costs.

If the city HRA, the Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Commission and city are partners, Voyda said, it would be a strong application.

Voyda said she's been successful in working with federal programs to do energy improvements at River Heights Apartments.

After the meeting, Grell explained the pre-planning grants would both be used to identify a target area, assess energy needs and seek other partners.

In other action Tuesday night, the council (with council member Pat Mikesh absent):

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n Approved a sidewalk and trails plan as presented by city planner Mike Strodtman.

"It will makes this a more walkable community," said mayor Nancy Carroll.

Strodtman said the plan can be used when reviewing new development and prior to street reconstruction projects to determine whether or not sidewalks should be added.

In 2008, sidewalks will be constructed along Highway 34, Pleasant Avenue, adjacent to the courthouse and on the south side of 7th Street West adjacent to the hospital parking lot.

The Heartland Trail Extension Project, from the existing Heartland Trail, past SummerField Place, across Kaywood Drive and south on Henrietta Avenue to the Wal-Mart trail, will be built in 2009.

A Western Trail Project will be constructed in 2011 along Helten Avenue, past Century School to Highway 34 then to Fair Avenue and along 8th Street to Western Avenue South.

Strodtman said an attempt was made to create a sidewalk pattern that was interconnected and eliminated most dead ends. The plan also recognizes areas where there is high pedestrian traffic on roads and the need for sidewalks in those areas as well as short segments of sidewalk that are missing that would complete a block.

n Appointed Ron Leckner and Joe Connelly to temporary seasonal public works positions. The city received 26 applications.

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n Tabled a request from Henrietta Township to be allowed to pay for their fire contract in two installments.

All fire contract amounts are due April 30. The township's bill is $21,994.

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