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ABOVE: Spencer Simco, who owns the adjoining property, stands above the new retaining wall that the city built on the north side of Uintah Street, east of 21st Street. The city owns the property up to the chain-link fence. Simco said he will landscape that strip. BELOW: The previous wall in 2010, before it failed.
Westside Pioneer photos

Two walls on Uintah indicate new city CDBG spending policy

       A recently built concrete retaining wall on the north side of Uintah east of 21st Street replaced a landscape-block wall that was showing “significant cracking,” according to Beth Diana, a city redevelopment specialist.
       Other work there included a new sidewalk and handicapped ramp at 21st and Uintah.
       The earlier wall had been built about 15 years ago, according to the resident behind the wall, Spencer Simco. He said the city responded after being told about the failing wall.
       The concrete style matches that of the retaining wall on Uintah east of Mesa Road that was also built in recent months. The same contractor was used for both -- Blue Ridge Construction. The city saw what had been built at Uintah and was fine with the design, according to Diana and Aimee Cox, the city's revitalization coordinator.

       Diana said the two projects combined totalled about $350,000, which also included engineering staff time and roadway design work. The funding for the projects came from federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds that the city receives.
       CDBG funds had also been used to build the landscape-block wall, the Westside Pioneer was previously told by a long-time CDBG project coordinator who retired four years ago.
       At that time, the money was disbursed differently. The city had geographically defined “neighborhood strategy areas” (NSAs) in lower-income areas that were allotted a certain amount of money each year for capital improvement (CIP) upgrades -- most typically sidewalks, curbs and gutters. The Westside NSA (mostly the older Westside) is one of the oldest in the city, established in the 1970s.
       However, according to Cox, whose office now oversees CDBG spending, less money is coming in from that federal source these days. Partly for that reason, the city no longer automatically gives CIP money to the individual NSAs but looks around the city to “put the money where the projects are,” she said.
       Elaborating further, Cox wrote in an e-mail, “Projects can be located anywhere in the city that benefit low-moderate income populations, but not necessarily low- moderate income [LMI] areas. (For example, funds can be used to support projects that benefit LMI populations such as homeless, disabled, elderly.) CIP funds also do not have to be targeted to neighborhood strategy areas. We have a number of areas that could be considered high need, the South Academy Economic Opportunity Zone for example, that are not identified neighborhood strategy areas."
       Both the Uintah projects are intended to tie in with a future rework of the entire West Uintah corridor. “This is a way of leveraging funds,” Cox summarized.
       In answer to a question, she said she would be open to hearing from Westsiders about any CDBG projects they might think are needed. She said that the city would likely work with the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) on any such public process. OWN is the city-recognized advocacy group for the Westside NSA.
       OWN President Welling Clark said he would welcome such a process.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 3/27/14; Transportation: Uintah Street)

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