The following is a report that was provided to the Wharton City Council during an August meeting from Community Development Department Director Gwyneth Teves. The information is dated Aug. 18 and includes the status of city grant projects.

I. GRANT PROJECTS

Infrastructure/Construction:

1. CDBG-DR – Infrastructure

Method of distribution approved by General Land Office and HUD. City has received an award of $1,650,172.00 for infrastructure projects related to Hurricane Harvey. The city staff met with the GLO for a kickoff meeting Feb. 17, 2020 to review contracts and projects.

Jones & Carter has completed surveys and staff is currently working on easement acquisition and project budget.

2. HMGP – FEMA Shelter/Dome HMGP application submitted by Wharton ISD for FEMA shelter/dome. The city received notification of Award on Jan. 21, 2020. The city council accepted the award of the funding for Phase I on Feb. 10, 2020 and the staff attended a kickoff meeting at the Wharton ISD Administration Building on Feb. 18, 2020. Agreement with WISD has been reviewed and approved by the school board. Signed agreement was submitted to the city and is filed with the project. WISD is responsible for all grant activities with the city staff providing cursory review. WISD has advertised a RFP for architectural services for this project

3. 2019-2020 CDBG – South East Avenue. Sanitary sewer repairs application has been submitted and we are awaiting a response.

4. City of Wharton Flood Reduction Project – The Lower Colorado River Basin Phase I, Texas Wharton Flood Risk Management Project

The City of Wharton was notified that the Flood Reduction Project was funded in the early part of 2018. City staff has been meeting with US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) staff monthly on items to be addressed. HDR was selected by the city council on June 14, 2019. The acquisition progress has started and HDR is working with State Side to provide relocation assistance. Impacted property owners can expect to start receiving offers and relocation support starting August 2020. The city successfully completed its first acquisition as of Aug. 7, 2020. USACE staff has indicated they will be ready to begin work in early 2021, dependent on the completion time for the relocation process.

Phase 2 Design Charette held virtually with USACE, Kenall, Inc., Freese & Nichols and City of Wharton staff Tuesday, April 21, 2020. Staff continues monthly coordination meetings and has begun receiving Phase 2 ROEs.

Housing:

5. TDHCA – HOME reservation participation five applicants have been awarded funding as of July 17, 2019. 1 subject has declined the contract. Construction on the first home is complete and signed over and the second and third homeowner signed closing documents and construction is anticipated to start this quarter.

6. CDBG-DR – Buyouts/Acquisitions

Method of distribution approved by GLO and HUD. City has received an award of $1,693,784.00 for buyout/acquisition projects related to Hurricane Harvey. The guidelines have been approved by the GLO and no public comment was received during the required posting period. Intake meetings have started with property owners and GrantWorks.

7. 2016 CDBG-DR – Housing Elevation/Reconstruction

Notification of $2 million funding was received by city staff on Feb. 4, 2019. This funding will assist homeowners with elevation, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of homes to address existing damage and mitigate future damage. One application has

been approved and is in home build selection phase, one applicant is pending additional documentation. Three applicants are still in process and one has withdrawn. GrantWorks will be going out to bid for construction contractor within the next 30 days.

8. TxDOT – Safe Routes to School

The city submitted the Preliminary Application in April 2019. City staff was notified that the preliminary application had been selected for review and city staff met with TxDOT representative on May 10, 2019. City staff submitted the detailed application Aug. 15, 2019. The city was not selected during the 2019-2020 funding. The city was notified that the project will be recommended for the 2020-2021 funding cycle under the SRTS program. Status is still pending, response not expected until spring of 2021.

Disaster Recovery (non-infrastructure or housing):

9. TDEM - Coronavirus Relief Funds

Funds made available for reimbursement of medical expenses, public health expenses, payroll expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Expenses of actions to facilitate compliance with COVID-19 related public health measures. Expenses associated with the provision of economic support in connection with the COVID-19 public health emergency, and any other COVID-19 – related expenses reasonably necessary to the function of government that satisfy the fund’s eligibility criteria including possible economic assistance funding.

City council approved expenditures to be presented by each city department head at the council meeting held on Aug. 10, 2020.

10. HMGP – Critical Facility Generators

HMGP application was submitted on Sept. 11, 2018 and we received notification of award by TDEM Feb. 18, 2020. One RFI has been requested and responded to. Award has been made to city and kick-off meeting conducted with TEDM on Aug. 6, 2020. Engineering and design is currently underway.

II. STUDIES:

11. City of Wharton, Texas Community Wayfinding Program City of Wharton working in partnership with the Wharton Downtown Business Association (WDBA), Wharton Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), and the Wharton Chamber of Commerce to complete a wayfinding study. The wayfinding study started in June with community input meetings to develop preliminary ideas. Drafted designs for community logos are being further improved based on recent feedback from partners.

III. OTHER PROJECTS & EVENTS:

12. Mini Mural Art Park – Cultural Arts Community Development department was not selected for an application to AARP for funding to establish a mini mural art park in the space adjacent to city hall. City staff is currently exploring alternative grant opportunities and partnerships to complete this project.

13. City of Wharton “Back in Business” Campaign

Community Development department has continued to publish “Back in Business” with a total of 9 editions, as based on changes issued by Gov. Greg Abbott. City has handed out free box of masks to over 150 local businesses, in addition to boxes of gloves donated to the city. City staff is submitting quotes to purchase limited number of hand sanitizer stands for high risk/high customer interaction businesses for council approval. Eligibility for stands to be determined, additional boxes of masks made available to repeat businesses.

14. City of Wharton “Discover Wharton” Tourism Campaign

City has developed “Discover Wharton” tourism campaign in response to “Tourism Assessment” completed in spring of 2020 by Wharton Downtown Business Association (WDBA) and approved for incorporation into comprehensive plan by city council at council meeting on May 11, 2020. Community Development Department is currently working with contributing partners in updating the city website to incorporate tourism campaign. City staff anticipates public marketing campaign for tourism upon adoption of new community logo from wayfinding study currently under way.

15. Guffey Park Improvements

City council approved Community Development Department to retain David Bucek as architect to design proposed improvements to Guffey Park in council meeting held on Aug. 10, 2020. Improvement designs are currently under way, and anticipated to be complete by October 2020, with construction planned for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Drafted designs for community logos are being further improved based on recent feedback from partners.

III. OTHER PROJECTS & EVENTS:

12. Mini Mural Art Park – Cultural Arts Community Development department was not selected for an application to AARP for funding to establish a mini mural art park in the space adjacent to city hall. City staff is currently exploring alternative grant opportunities and partnerships to complete this project.

13. City of Wharton “Back in Business” Campaign

Community Development department has continued to publish “Back in Business” with a total of 9 editions, as based on changes issued by Gov. Greg Abbott. City has handed out free boxes of masks to over 150 local businesses, in addition to boxes of gloves donated to the city. City staff is submitting quotes to purchase limited number of hand sanitizer stands for high risk/high customer interaction businesses for council approval. Eligibility for stands to be determined, additional boxes of masks made available to repeat businesses.

14. City of Wharton “Discover Wharton” Tourism Campaign

City has developed “Discover Wharton” tourism campaign in response to “Tourism Assessment” completed in spring of 2020 by Wharton Downtown Business Association (WDBA) and approved for incorporation into comprehensive plan by city council at council meeting on May 11, 2020. Community Development Department is currently working with contributing partners in updating the city website to incorporate tourism campaign. City staff anticipates public marketing campaign for tourism upon adoption of new community logo from wayfinding study currently under way.

15. Guffey Park Improvements

City council approved Community Development Department to retain David Bucek as architect to design proposed improvements to Guffey Park in council meeting held on Aug. 10, 2020. Improvement designs are currently under way, and anticipated to be complete by October 2020, with construction planned for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

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