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Victoria officials to seek grant to rehab blighted homes

By Melissa Crowe
Jan. 21, 2014 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 21, 2014 at 7:22 p.m.


Get your Goat

Forget Brush Hog - live goats could be the solution to cutting back the overgrowth at Riverside Park.

Victoria Councilman Tom Halepaska presented the idea at the Jan. 7 meeting to contract with a petting zoo based in Port Lavaca for landscaping along the banks of the Guadalupe River.

Susan and Terry Hatfield gave their presentation Tuesday, sparking the council to approve a two-month-long trial period at Grover's Bend in the park. That test would cost $9,600.

The Hatfields would bring at least 20 goats into the park, tethered on a line, to clear brush up to 4 feet tall.

"It's not a petting zoo," Susan said. "They're working."

Halepaska said the proposal would free up parks staff to work on other projects while also cutting back on equipment costs, fuel, transportation and other factors.

The Hatfields would assume all liability for the goats.

COUNCIL ALSO ...

• Gave initial consent on a partnership with the YMCA for municipal pool services

• Approved moving forward on annexation of 733 acres

• Approved spending $300,00 of Hotel Occupancy Tax dollars for baseball field renovations at the Community Center Park

Victoria City Council is laying the groundwork for a federal grant to meet the town's affordable housing needs.

During Tuesday's City Council meeting, elected officials gave a consensus to apply for the funding, which would allow for the demolition and rebuilding of homes defined by the federal government as in "poor condition."

Although Mayor Paul Polasek supported moving forward with the grant application, he brought up concerns of federal spending.

"I sometimes feel we have an obligation to return federal dollars to our community," Polasek said. "It frustrates me a great deal to know our federal government borrows money to do this."

Federal housing data shows more than 1,200 homes within Victoria are considered to be in "poor condition," which means they have an incomplete kitchen, incomplete plumbing or overcrowding, said Development Services Director Jared Mayfield.

The city would apply for the federal funding through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs with the purpose of supplying decent, safe and affordable housing.

Each year, the program allocates about $2 billion among the states and hundreds of municipalities, according to the program summary.

While the city began opting to apply for other housing-related grants after 2005, changes in the program eliminated the requirement for a local match, and the monitoring requirements have been reduced, Mayfield said.

He estimates that if awarded the funding, the city could rebuild 10 homes annually.

The last time the city entered into a project like this was in 2004, when about eight homes were rebuilt in Silver City. Before that, five homes that were flooded in 1998 were rebuilt in 1999, Mayfield said.

Councilman Andrew Young supported the project but did mention concern for tax implications.

"It's like winning the lottery," he said. "It's good."

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