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What would Gallup do if it had a million dollars?

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Gallup City Council took a crack at spending it

The City Council meeting Feb. 23 on the city’s Facebook page took on the challenge of where to put the Community Development Block Grant funds which total a million dollars.

The city will be expected to provide a 10 percent match. The match would be covered by a budget transfer from the leftover fund balance from the whole block neighborhood reconstruction project.

Gallup Planning Director C. B. Strain told the council one of the plans for the money would be to fund a city street, pedestrian walk, and the utility infrastructure project on West Logan Avenue from Seventh Street to Ninth  Street. The project will replace deteriorating curbs, gutters, sidewalks, driveways, and handicapped ramps.

Councilor Fran Palochak, Dist. 4, expressed a concern about water drainage with the new project. “The main issues that people are having between Eight and Ninth [Streets] are a lot of drainage issues. Will the reconstruction of these roads solve these problems?” she asked.

Strain said it would.

The council unanimously approved the grant.

Councilwoman Linda Garcia, Dist. 1, commended Palochak.

“I just want to congratulate Councilor Palochak for the hard work she did by listening to her constituents and getting this funding completed for Seventh and Ninth Street, because this is many agonizing years ending for the neighbors,” Garcia said.

Strain told the council that the city would need to develop a Citizen Participation Plan as part of qualifying for the grant.

This plan requires that citizens be provided with reasonable notice and timely access to local meetings in order that they can offer input and project ideas for the CDBG program.

Gallup must also provide fair housing as per the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Whenever federal funds such as the CDBG are used in a project involving the acquisition, rehabilitation, or demolition of a property, a federal law known as the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Properties Acquisition Policies Act may apply. The purpose of the URA is to provide fair and equitable treatment for people whose real property is acquired or for people displaced as a result of a CDBG funded project or activity.

The council unanimously approved the Citizen Participation Plan.

CDBG also requires that a Fair Housing Proclamation must be adopted by the local governing body at an open public meeting. The council unanimously voted to do that, and proclaimed March 26 Fair Housing Day.

Strain also brought up a funding request for the reconstruction of east Nizhoni Boulevard between south Second Street and College Drive. The project would entail reconstruction of the road and storm drainage.

If the project gets approved by the New Mexico Department of Transportation, the city would need to match 25 percent of the construction cost. Strain said the amount could be anywhere from $175,000 to $500,000 or more.

The council unanimously approved the funding request for the reconstruction of east Nizhoni Boulevard.

“That whole area needs to be reconstructed, and those areas that [Strain] pointed out certainly need to be reconfigured,” Palochak said. “And I like that we’re asking other funding sources to help us. If we don’t ask, we’re not going to get [anything].”

From street reconstruction, the meeting moved to other issues.

Gallup Tourism and Marketing Manager Jennifer Lazarz spoke about the El Morro Events Center. She said it needed some technology updates, especially with COVID-19 still going on. She pointed out that city employees are holding meetings at the center, so they can practice social distancing while still getting training done for their departments.

Lazarz requested a little more than $11,300 for the technology and installation. She said 75 percent of that amount could be reimbursed by FEMA, because it is a COVID-19-related expense. The council unanimously agreed to the request.

Firefighting was next on the agenda. Gallup Fire Chief Jesus “Chuy” Morales described the need for a new aerial fire engine.

He said he had been saving some of the fire department’s funding and asked the council if he could move the money over to the proper bank account to make the purchase.

The council unanimously approved the request.

By Molly Adamson
Sun Correspondent