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Niagara Falls officials seek public input on community development funds

NIAGARA FALLS – City officials are looking for public input on how to spend federal funding that’s been allocated in recent years for projects, including a planned skate park, playground improvements and downtown housing.

Every year, the city gets money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which it allocates through its Community Development Department.

The money comes from several anti-poverty HUD programs, largely the Community Development Block Grant program.

Seth A. Piccirillo, director of community development, said in recent years the best projects have come out of public input.

“We take the public participation process very seriously,” Piccirillo told the City Council last week. “We think it’s a model for participatory budgeting.”

The public has until the end of June to submit ideas for projects.

Those who have specific projects they’d like to see done can submit a funding application. Those who wish to provide input on what types of projects should be funded should complete the Community Development Department’s survey.

The application and survey may be found online at nf-cd.org, or picked up at the Carnegie Building, 1022 Main St.

The following neighborhood workshops have been scheduled as a part of the budget development process:

• June 9, 5:30 p.m., LaSalle Public Library, 8728 Buffalo Ave.

• June 11, 5:30 p.m., Neighborhood Housing Services, 479 16th St.

• June 16, 6 p.m., Doris Jones Family Resource Building, 2001 Ninth St.

• June 18, 5:30 p.m., Carnegie Building.

There also will be a public hearing on a draft spending plan, as well as a 30-day public comment period on that plan, Piccirillo said.

Last November, the Council approved a $2.7 million budget for these funds for this year, which, along with $460,000 in home rehabilitation funding, put funds toward a planned skate park, a new playground at Hyde Park and improvements to a park on 70th Street.

The funding allocations aren’t final until approved by Congress and disbursed.

In addition to the block grant program, funding comes from two other HUD programs – the HOME Investment Participation Program and the Emergency Shelter Grant program.

In addition, the city expects it will receive $3.1 million from the Section 8 Leased Housing Program.

Under last year’s budget, Housing Visions Inc., a Syracuse-based nonprofit, got $300,000 for an affordable housing project being built on several sites on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh streets and Walnut Avenue.

Anyone with questions should contact Piccirillo at 286-8801 or by email at seth.piccirillo@niagarafallsny.gov.

email: abesecker@buffnews.com