Kates: Grant discussed in August

Published 9:05 am Wednesday, December 16, 2015

District A Councilwoman Gloria Kates says that she first raised concerns about the direction of a city improvement grant application months ago.

Kates said she has gotten several calls from constituents asking why she “waited until the last minute” to inquire about adding District A neighborhoods to a 2016-17 Louisiana Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), for which the city recently applied.

However, Kates said that she first asked about adding those neighborhoods to the grant as far back as August.

On Nov. 20, the city sent in its application for the $800,000 CDBG grant, asking for improvements to the Richardson Town neighborhood’s infrastructure.

At the Tuesday, Dec. 1, meeting of the Bogalusa City Council, Kates asked if Poplas Quarters or other District A neighborhoods could be added to the grant. Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette said that would not be possible because the funding is only enough to cover the Richardson Town improvements.

“(Kates’) concern should have been done back in August,” Perrette said. “Not the week the grant is due.”

However, Kates said that she did start voicing her concerns in August.

She said that she attended a public hearing on Aug. 12, and discussed the need for street repair improvements in District A. That hearing was advertised as “to observe views on the housing and community development needs of the City of Bogalusa and to discuss the submission of an application for funding” under the CDBG program.

Kates and several concerned citizens in her district also met with the mayor and Professional Engineering Consultants (PEC) officials twice more in November, after it was announced in September that the grant application would focus on Richardson Town.

Kates said that city administrators and PEC agreed to a resolution to “continue to look for applicable grants pertaining to the needs of eligible low/moderate income residents located in District A.”

Kates further added that she was happy that Richardson Town might receive the grant funding, but wanted to make sure that all citizens’ voices were being heard.

“This was a suggested amendment, not a discrepancy, conflict or objection to the existing needs of Richardson Town,” she said. “These were concerns not only of District A citizens, but citizens of other areas.”