Chicago Ridge Board awaits decision on receiving CDBG grants

  • Written by By Dermot Connolly

The deadline for applying for Community Development Block Grant funds through the state is approaching, and the Chicago Ridge Village Board spent some time at the Tuesday meeting discussing whether to seek CDBG funds for street improvements of water tower renovation.

Village engineer Andrew Pufundt informed the board that applications will be due in April for the CDBG grants, which are funds from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development that are distributed by states. He said that last year, municipalities applied for grants for as much as $400,000, and it is hoped that about that much would be available this year as well.

Mayor Chuck Tokar pointed out that last year the village’s application for a CDBG grant to be used for rehabbing the village water tower was turned down, after being awarded the previous year for another project. CDBG funds can only be used for utility or infrastructure repairs.

“Maybe they were just reluctant to give it to us two years in a row,” he said.

Tokar suggested that because the cost of the maintenance work needed to be done on the village water tower, including exterior painting and interior inspection, has been estimated to cost $800,000, that might not be the best project to use CDBG funds on. He said it would still leave the village with a bill of at least $400,000 to cover the remaining costs.

The mayor said any grant money received might be better used on street improvements.

“We do have quite a few streets that need repairs and qualify for the money,” he said, noting that CDBG funds can only be used in areas of municipalities where the average income does not exceed a certain level.

“There is no doubt that a lot of our streets have really gotten a battering in recent years,” Tokar said, adding that last winter was much worse than the current one.

However, Trustee Jack Lind stressed the importance of maintaining the water tower.

“I agree the streets are very important, but we can’t wait for CDBG funds to get the water tower done. We don’t know when they will be coming anyway,” said Lind, the former public works director, suggesting that a bond issue might be needed to pay for it, rather than depleting the water and sewer fund or other village accounts to do it.

Lind said the water tower project entails much more than repainting the exterior.

“There is nothing more important to a community than its water supply. Ours is fine now, but we want to keep it that way. Some repairs are needed inside the tower,” he said.

“I have a background in this and we need a comprehensive study done every so many years,” said Lind. He said it may have been 16 years or more since the last one was done.

Lind explained that such a study would include inspecting the outside of the tower, and then using a camera to inspect the inside.

At his request, the board agreed to ask Public Works Director Stanley Barwock to get the process started, by seeking proposals to get the study done.

“You have your marching orders now, Stan,” Tokar told the director, who was in the audience.

In other business the board passed a resolution approving the village’s purchase of a vacant restaurant property at 10255 S. Harlem Ave. for $650,000.

Lind and Trustee Sally Durkin said after the meeting that acquisition of the former Nicobee’s restaurant, which will be torn down, was important because the property is located just south of a vacant trucking terminal that the village is trying to market to a developer.