Wallace accepts block grant for pool project

by JOSH MCDONALD
Staff Reporter | December 4, 2020 10:06 AM

WALLACE — Things are now progressing at a different pace and in a different direction for the Wallace Swimming Pool.

Last week, after putting their pool repair project up to bid for a third time, the Wallace City Council rejected the two bids that they subsequently received and elected to accept a $225,000 community development block grant (CDBG).

The Idaho Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG) assists Idaho cities and counties with the development of needed public infrastructure. Funds are used to construct projects benefiting low and moderate income persons, help prevent or eliminate slum and blight conditions, and/or mitigate health and safety threats in local areas.

CDBG funds are federal monies that are available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and can be used for things like community development activities, construction of public facilities and improvements, construction and maintenance of neighborhood centers, the conversion of school buildings, public services, economic development, and job creation/retention activities. These funds can also be used for preservation and restoration of historic properties in low-income neighborhoods.

The program is administered by Idaho Commerce with funds received annually from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The grant will be administered by the Panhandle Area Council, who required the city to complete an income survey that showed that the city’s households are at least 51% low-to-moderate income (LMI) in order to qualify for the grant.

The Wallace City Council voted in favor of pursuing the grant during a special session in early July. A public forum was also held on the matter in September.

Accepting the grant and bringing in federal money will change some of the criteria for bidding on the project, which means the pool construction will be going out for bid for a fourth time.

The first bid came in at $726,000, which was almost $300,000 higher than the council had anticipated from their engineers. The next bid came in February at $818,000, which was also subsequently rejected.

Both bids, for a full repair of the pool, came from contractor S&L Underground and were a far cry from the $450,000 that engineering firm Terracon had estimated in 2019.

The most recent round of bids did include one with a lower dollar amount from ClearWater Construction, but accepting the community block grant changed the direction the city decided to go.

The Shoshone News-Press will continue to follow this story.