Groups Make Pitches For CDBG Funding

CDBG applicants 4-8-142

Steve Tancer from RPM Development told the Township Council his company needs about $30,000 in CDBG grant money for items at the Parkside Senior Residence.

Several groups hoping to get Community Development Block Grant funding for projects ranging from helping homeowners who are facing foreclosure to renovating kitchens in a senior residence made their pitches April 8 before the Township Council.

The council’s finance committee will review all 14 grant applications and make its recommendations at a later date. The township received $254,170 in CDBG funds this year, program administrator Deborah Mitchell told the council.

The council has until July to make its decisions and submit applications to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which funds the grants.

The largest category of applications was in public facilities, she said.

The council seemed sympathetic to most of the five groups whose representatives showed up to the meeting, but had some pretty targeted questions for one.

Steve Tancer of RPM management, which owns and manages Parkside Senior Housing on Parkside Street, told the council his company is seeking more than $30,000 to install automatic sliding doors and security cameras in the development.

The sliding doors – which will cost $19,135 – are needed, Tancer said, because some of the building’s resident’s have trouble opening the doors.

“A percentage of the residents are disabled, frail or elderly,” he said. “They encounter difficulty in opening the front door.”

He said this is exacerbated when they are carrying bags or packages.

The residents have been requesting an automatic door since the facility opened in 2011, he said.

Tancer said the company is also seeking $11,502 for a “small amount” of security cameras in the building.

“Residents have been asking us regularly for more cameras,” he said.

Township Councilwoman Kimberly Francois, (D-At Large) said the projects are “very, very necessary. They clearly need some more help.”

But other council members weren’t as sympathetic.

The sliding door “sounds like a great project, the question is, who will pay for it?” said Councilman Phil Kramer, (D-Ward 3). “I’m baffled as to why you didn’t build it.”

“Hindsight is 20/20,” Tancer said. “If I built another senior building, I would. You learn from your mistakes.”

“It sounds like your architect dropped the ball,” said Mayor Brian Levine, (R). He added that the building is only three years old, so sliding doors were not unheard of when it was being planned.

“We already gave you $1 million,” he said. “I would have to think harder on a company that is profit-making, that we’ve subsidized in the past.”

Tancer said the company is short on cash because it has not received all of the federal housing vouchers due it.

“I was on the Planning Board when you received your approval,” said Councilman Rajiv Prasad (D-At Large). “We expected you to have that knowledge.”

“I feel like we were led up a primrose path and led to believe that you knew what you were doing, when obviously you did not,” he said.

Other groups received more favorable comments.

Sharon Clark from the Central Jersey Housing Resource Center told the council her group is asked for $5,736 to help pay for programs that help homeowners facing foreclosure.

She said the group helps their clients enter into mediation with banks and hopefully into a program designed to help them keep their homes.

She said between 15 percent and 19 percent of her group’s clients come from the township.

“You’re one of my model towns,” she said.

Paula Delfs of the Center for Great Expectations in Somerset told the council her group is looking for $20,000 to help fund a case manager and $19,169 for a small playground.

The case manager, she said, is for the Katie’s Place child development center.

The playground is needed because the organization bought and installed non-compliant playground equipment that had to be removed.

“This provides a safe place for our families,” she said.

Frank Hasner, executive director of the Franklin Township Food Bank, told the council he’s looking for $1,500 for equipment for the group’s community farm program, through which they grow some of the produce that goes to their clients.

“It’s nice to be able to grow our own stuff, pick it and get it right to the clients,” he said.

Hasner said the food bank is working with three area farms and has been doing so for four years.

The food bank is also looking for $40,000 for a built-in generator, Hasner said.

During Superstorm Sandy, he said, the food bank lost power for 30 hours.

“We were able to borrow generators, so we didn’t have any spoilage,” he said.

Hasner said having the generator, which would be powered by natural gas, “is critical.”

He said the generator wouldn’t be able to power everything in the warehouse at the same time, but could be used in shifts.

“It’s a worthy cause,” Prasad said. “The community garden is phenomenal.”

Finaly, Sharon Chesir of the scar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living on DeMott Lane said the organization is looking for $33,000 to renovate kitchen in the residences.

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