The following information is included in the City of Wharton’s newsletter dated Winter 2021. The city’s Community Development Department updates this information on an as needed basis and presents it to the Wharton City Council monthly. Gwyneth Teves is the Community Development director.
I. GRANT PROJECTS
CDBG-DR – Infrastructure Method of Distribution approved by General Land Office and Housing of Urban Development. City has received an award of $1,650,172 for infrastructure projects related to Hurricane Harvey. Jones & Carter has completed surveys and staff is currently working on easement acquisition and project budget.
HMGP – Federal Emergency Management Agency 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 02/10/2020 and the staff attended a kickoff meeting at the WISD Administration Building on 2/18/2020. 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 selected Huckabee for architectural services and LTY Engineers & Kimley Horne for engineering on this project. WISD is moving forward with project.
2019-2020 CDBG – South East Avenue Sanitary Sewer Repairs
Application has been submitted and city is awaiting a response. City was notified of funding and is pending agreement and kick-off meeting with Texas Department of Agriculture.
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 Corps of Engineers staff monthly on items to be addressed. HDR was selected by the City Council on 06/14/19. The acquisition progress has started and HDR is working with State Side to provide relocation assistance. Impacted property owners started receiving offers and relocation support starting August 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.
TDHCA – HOME Reservation Participation
Five applicants have been awarded funding as of 7/17/19. One subject has declined the contract. Construction on the three homes is complete and houses have been signed over to owners as of October 2020.
CDBG-DR – Buyouts/ Acquisitions
Method of Distribution approved by GLO and HUD. City has received an award of $1,693,784 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 continue with property owners and GrantWorks.
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. Three applications have been approved and are in home build selection phase. City issued notice of grant in utility billing, resulting in 12 new inquiries and a new total of five applicants, with one overall program applicant withdrawal. GrantWorks will be going out to bid for construction contractor within the next 60 days. GrantWorks is still taking applications at this time, but unofficial closing date was Nov. 13, 2020.
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): 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 expenditure requests by each city department head at the council meeting held on Aug. 10, 2020. Departments are completing purchases and funds were expended by Dec. 1, 2020.
HMGP – Critical Facility Generators HMGP application was submitted on 9/11/18 and the city received notification of award by TDEM 02/18/2020. 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 are currently underway.
II. STUDIES 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. Logo design has been finalized and proposed wayfinding signage designs are currently in final stages of review with proposed implementation plan.
III. OTHER PROJECTS & EVENTS
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.
City of Wharton “Discover Wharton” Community Marketing Campaign
City has developed “Discover Wharton” community marketing 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 the Wharton City Council at its meeting on May 11, 2020. Community Development Department is currently working with contributing partners in updating the city website to incorporate community marketing campaign. City staff anticipates public marketing campaign to launch upon adoption of new community logo from wayfinding study currently underway.