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Ogdensburg approves housing grant application

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OGDENSBURG — By the skin of its teeth, the city will submit an application for housing rehabilitation money this year.

At its Monday meeting, the City Council approved the application for up to $400,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds ahead of a Friday deadline.

The Development Authority of the North Country wrote the grant, and if the city is successful, will manage the program.

Matthew A. Taylor, a DANC housing development specialist, told city officials he would prepare the grant at no cost.

Council members were happy to get the application in before the deadline.

“Thank you very much for the quick turnaround,” said Deputy Mayor Michael D. Morley.

When the previous housing administrator, C.W. Augustine of DeKalb Junction, declined in a memo to city officials on July 9 to write and administer the grant, the city scrambled to find a replacement.

Mayor William D. Nelson took it upon himself to contact James W. Wright, DANC executive director, who agreed to step in.

“When Mr. Wright says it is time to get to work in Ogdensburg, we get to work,” Mr. Taylor said.

The city and DANC have yet to determine a mechanism for selecting properties for rehabilitation. But Mr. Taylor said the grant would focus on an area around Ford Street if awarded.

Though the Community Development Block Grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the money is awarded by the state Office of Community Renewal through a competitive process.

In 2011, Ogdensburg’s grant application was unsuccessful despite state officials’ recognition of the city’s need for housing rehabilitation, a failure C.W. Augustine blamed on turmoil in City Hall.

The matter of C.W. Augustine, which continues to administer the previous year’s grant programs, still sits before the council. Some council members have discussed their desire to sever the city’s relationship with the firm.

Council members have frequently complained about housing rehabilitation in the city, citing inconsistent inspections and poor selection of renovation and demolition candidates.

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