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Sept. 26, 2001 – After vowing at a Sept. 10 meeting to reject the governor's proposed allocation of nearly $2.2 million in 2001 federal Community Development Block Grant funds and to reprogram the distribution themselves, the Senate passed the grants in their original form Tuesday in the second day of its Fiscal Year 2002 budget session.
At the previous meeting, some senators had disagreed sharply with the allocations the CDBG commission had made.
The largest proposed grant — $220,000 to rehabilitate a Frenchtown fishing facility — had been hotly denounced by Sens. Norma Pickard-Samuel and Celestino A. White Sr., who pointed out that only $40,850 was proposed for renovation of the American Legion facility on St. Thomas. The two vowed it wouldn't pass, accusing St. Thomas-Water Island Administrator Louis Hill, who presented the project, of putting it ahead of worthy, faith-based projects. Both senators were absent for the vote on the bill Tuesday.
The Frenchtown project, part on an overall waterfront enhancement plan, is to build a covered pavilion fronted by palm trees and containing two public restrooms.
Governmental and non-governmental agencies this year requested a total of $13.4 million for projects; the CDBG commission awarded $2.189 million. The commission, which is within the Planning and Natural Resources Department, reviews grant application projects each year and sends its recommendations to the governor, who reviews the submissions and then forwards them with his recommendations to the Legislature.
The recommended grants were presented late, which some senators took issue with at the Sept. 10 meeting. The annual deadline for submitting grant proposals to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is July 31. For the third year in a row, the territory missed the deadline and had to ask HUD for an extension. Gov. Charles W. Turnbull received an extension to Sept. 30 this year.
The grant amounts are equally divided between the two districts. By island, they are:
– St. Thomas, 18 proposals — $803,950
– St. John, 5 proposals — $71,650
– St. Croix, 14 proposals — $875,600
In addition, $437,800 was proposed for the territory's administration of the CDBG program, bringing the total to $2,189,000.
The senators took a number of recesses in Tuesday afternoon's session where they hastily drafted amendments quicky reprogramming the grant money. However, they ultimately voted to accept the bill in its original form in fear that the last minute changes could break federal rules that earmark certain percentages for construction, public service projects and administration expenses.
The bill passed 11–2 with Sens. White and Pickard-Samuel absent for the vote. Sens. Emmett Hansen II and Adelbert Bryan voted against.
For a complete listing of all the grants, see "Governor seeks CDBG funds for 37 projects".

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