St. Augustine Eyes Grants for Community Development

City officials are gearing up to apply for a Small Cities Community Development Block Grant to help boost neighborhoods and economic growth with a particular emphasis on West Augustine.

At a recent City Commission meeting, Corey Sakryd, deputy director of General Services, and Eric Walters, grants administration coordinator, said the current grant application cycle closes in early May.

“There is approximately $13 million available to eligible applicants, “ Walters said. “It is vital for neighborhood revitalization, commercial revitalization and economic development.”

Walters said grant money can be used for water and sewer issues, to rehab substandard housing and improve sidewalks, as well as economic development efforts that create jobs for low- and moderate-income residents.

While the specific focus of the grant application is still under consideration, Sakryd said the city’s west side could benefit from the financial help.

“Generally speaking from my perspective we are looking for West Augustine,” he told commissioners.

This first presentation was for notification that the grant funds are available, and the city is eligible to apply, as well as to allow for public comment and suggestions for how the money could be used, Sakryd said.

City Manager John Regan said the city has used community development block grants in the past for several projects.

“We’re a small city that can still qualify,” he said. “This is one of the most successful programs where we have obtained federal dollars. We’ve used it numerous times.”

Regan said while city staff sees the city’s western side as the primary focus of the grant application, it is important for residents to have the opportunity to participate in the process.

“We want to let the community know there are opportunities,” he said. “This is a solicitation for good ideas.”

Mayor Nancy Sikes-Kline agreed with Regan on getting community input for the grant application.

“There are lots of good ideas out there,” she said.