Athwal: Sign

Kingsburg City Council is securing additional funds through a number of grants to upgrade Athwal Park by building a skate park and adding exercise equipment to the facility.

KINGSBURG – The city’s long-sought after skate park is getting closer to becoming a reality as grant funding is being lined up through a number of programs.

During an update on the Housing Related Parks Grant Program at the Nov. 1 City Council meeting, City Manager Alex Henderson informed the Council he’d be completing a contract with the state for $75,000. Those funds must be spent by June 30, 2019, so that gives the city time to plan out the park and consider such needs as Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility.

The city originally applied for the Housing Related Parks Grant Program in February of this year. The grant’s purpose is to increase the overall supply of affordable housing to lower-income households.

“For us, the Marion Villas mixed-use project qualified us for this program,” Henderson said. Since the Marion Villas project was completed in 2015, but the city’s Housing Element wasn’t updated, the city could not apply until 2017, Henderson said.

Only units eligible in 2016 were fully funded. Thus, the city was only going to get a prorated amount of $32,169. However, since the minimum allocation was set at $75,000, that’s the amount the city will receive from the state.

Henderson said the city was notified in July that the grant will be awarded.

“We were waiting on the agreement from the state which is included in the information packet tonight. I’ll be completing that grant contract and sending it back.”

Councilman Bruce Blayney asked whether the Housing Related Parks Grant is renewable. Henderson said it is but must be matched to newly built housing units that qualify as affordable to very low- or low-income households. Also, the program would need to be funded at the state level, he said.

“I don’t know if the grant’s going to continue or not. I’ll have to wait for the state to determine that,” Henderson said.

Mayor Michelle Roman said she may also be able to secure more grant dollars for Athwal Park projects after she met a representative with the National Fitness Campaign.

“They’re reaching out to California cities and the Central Valley in particular,” Roman said. Since Kingsburg doesn’t have many outdoor fitness facilities for adults and youths, Roman said the city already qualified for a $10,000 grant through that campaign. They need matching grant dollars however. The Housing Related Parks Grant monies can be used for that purpose, she said.

Roman said she’s also reached out to another agency for yet another grant and that Adam Castaneda on the Community Services Commission has applied for a different $25,000 grant.

“I think he hears in January about that grant,” Roman said. Some of those funds would be used to purchase exercise equipment for adults, she said.

“The idea is if you’re an adult and you’ve come to watch your child at soccer practice, there will be exercise equipment so you can start working out. Or if you’re going to come over to the skate park, you can get exercise in while your kids are skating. Or you can just go in the early morning and work out.”

City Engineer Dave Peters will draw up some architectural plans and add cost estimates to the park amenities. This will be presented to the city’s Finance Committee and Community Services Commission before being presented to Council for final approval.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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