Aug. 16, 2002 – In the second of three hearings on the allocation of the territory's 2002 Community Development Block Grant, senators on Thursday night heard representatives of many St. Thomas agencies plead their need for a portion of the federal funding.
On Wednesday night, the Senate, sitting as the Committee of the Whole, heard from St. Croix agencies. A similar hearing was scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday on at the Legislature Building St. John.
The federal Housing and Urban Development Department awarded the Virgin Islands $1.95 million in CDBG funds for 2002, down from nearly $2.2 million last year. The program is administered locally within the Planning and Natural Resources Department.
Larry Joshua, director of the V.I. block grant program since 1988, told the lawmakers on Thursday night that Gov. Charles W. Turnbull is recommending funding for 15 projects on St. Thomas totaling $740,000 and two on St. John totaling $40,000 for a total of $780,000 for that district; and 10 projects also totaling $780,000 for St. Croix. In addition, Joshua said, $390,000 is to go for administering the grant program.
For applicant agencies that didn't make the cut in the governor's recommendations, senators offered a ray of hope, pledging to reprogram unexpended CDBG funds from 1995, 1996, 1997 and 2001 to projects Turnbull didn't recommend. They said the money should be shifted from projects that have not drawn down the funds to those that are ready to proceed.
However, Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd told the agency representatives that, while all of the projects are worthy of funding, the money available is "very limited."
The senators suggested to DPNR officials that they consider full funding for specific projects, so that representatives do not have to return in search of additional money. This, the lawmakers said, would allow other worthwhile projects to receive grant money in the next funding cycle.
The governor's recommended allocations for St. Thomas are:
– $15,000 for the St. Thomas Disabled Training program
– $15,000 for the V.I. Mission afterschool program
– $15,000 for the Up Street afterschool program
– $15,000 for the Methodist afterschool program
– $15,000 for the V.I. Housing Authority scuba diving program
– $15,000 for the Savaneros afterschool program
– $15,000 for the Housing Parks and Recreation home economics program
– $20,000 for the Down Street afterschool program
– $25,000 for the Bovoni Weed and Seed program
– $50,000 for the Girl Scout facility rehabilitation
– $60,000 for Winston Raymo dormitory construction
– $72,500 for the Family Resource Center emergency shelter and counseling facility
– $82,500 for the V.I. Heritage Museum development
– $125,000 for Estate Bovoni potable water distribution
– $200,000 for the Methodist Outreach Center facility acquisition
Last year, the V.I. government asked HUD for several extensions of the July 31 deadline to file its grant information. Barring unforeseen delays, this year's should make it to HUD by the end of the V.I. fiscal year on Sept. 30. Last year, some senators took issue with the governor's proposed allocations and vowed to come up with their own distribution list; later, however, they approved the administration list as presented.
Senators present at Thursday night's meeting in addition to Liburd were Sens. Lorraine Berry, Douglas E. Canton Jr., Donald "Ducks" Cole, Roosevelt David, Carlton Dowe, Norma Pickard-Samuel and Vargrave Richards.
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