City to apply for community block grant for park improvements

The playground equipment at Memorial Park, next to the tennis courts, is nearing the end of its useful life. The original structure above was constructed about 20 years ago using funds raised through a large community effort. Photo by Philip A. Janquart
Philip A. Janquart
The Weiser City Council on Sept. 11 held a public hearing regarding a potential grant that could fund the replacement of park playground equipment.
 If awarded, it could mean $250,000 for the replacement of the large playground structure located next to the tennis courts at Memorial Park.
 The city has replaced several sections due to wear and tear and has recently discovered that the supporting structure is also showing some age and will need to be replaced in the not-so-distant future. Replacing the entire structure will run well over $200,000.
 “We’ve been having to replace pieces and parts of it, and they are pretty spendy,” explained Mayor Randy Hibberd.
 The city, therefore, is applying for a Public Parks for Resiliency, Idaho Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) through the Idaho Department of Commerce.
 Mayor Hibberd learned of the program during the Idaho Rural Success Summit held at the Vendome last April where he met Region IV Development grant administrator Adeanna Jenkins.
 Region IV Development, based in Twin Falls, specializes in providing technical assistance to communities, including preparing funding applications. The CDBG grant must be prepared by a certified grant administrator.
 Jenkins was on hand during the Sept. 11 public hearing to give more detail on the grant and its requirements.
 “Commerce (Idaho Department of Commerce) gets about $7.5 to $8 million annually for these different grant programs,” she explained. “To be eligible, you have to be a city or county and you also have to be a low to moderate income area, and the grants themselves have to resolve a health or safety issue.
 “There are different types of grants … for water, wastewater systems, fire stations, EMS buildings … then there is parks. Public parks is the newest type of grant offered through this program. Typically, those are up to $245,000 … and they love playgrounds … they love to do those types of projects.”
 With the addition of money allocated through the 2021 CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, the total available through the CDBG grant is $250,000. Congress has provided $5 billion for CDBG programs.
 The idea to improve Weiser’s parks stems from Hibberd’s discussions with high school students as he was developing the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council. He asked them what they would like to see improved throughout the city.
 “One of the things that they talked about was improving our parks, where kids have things to do, and also one of the things they wanted to see was a sidewalk from the high school to Memorial Park because it’s used for a lot of activities,” he explained.
 In summer 2022, the City of Weiser was awarded a $250,000 grant for sidewalks for that area, but has had a hard time finding contractors to do the work, so the project is currently on hold until one can be found.
 Kids also said they would like things like cornhole and ping-pong available for use at Memorial Park.
 “To kind of help things along, I went to the Blue Cross Community Health Academy and at the end of the academy, they gave each of the participants a $20,000 grant to be used for something health related, and using it in the parks fit that bill,” Hibberd said.
 In the end, the City of Weiser was awarded a total of $30,000. Although the CDBG grant does not require a match, it will help when the grant application is reviewed.
 “I originally wanted to see a walkway around the park; I wanted to see the cornhole and the ping-pong and those sorts of things, but in looking at things, what we realized was that the playground equipment there is pretty much at the end of its useful life,” Hibberd said. “That kind of took precedence over the other parts of the project we wanted to do. However, we will continue to pursue funding for those other items.”
 The application deadline for the CDBG grant is this Friday, Sept. 22, with notices of awards to be issued in mid-November.


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18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
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