Federal HUD money to build an ADA Fishing dock & viewing platform in Shakerag Park is in the process of being returned.
This discussion didn't go without a fight from Councilman Lenny Zaprowski, who stated within the Work Session meeting, " I am a Big Proponent of these funds". He strongly advocated for the City to keep the funds, regardless of the strings attached or qualification requirements.
Councilwoman Stephanie Endres stated the grant has stipulations and rules in which the City would have to meet to qualify for the funds, and the City doesn't qualify.
City attorney chimed in that it would be "most prudent" to release(return) what funds we have left, back.
After discussion in the Work Session and 7 pm meeting, the Council voted 5-2, to return the HUD money. Councilman Lenny Zaprowski & Councilwoman Cori Davenport voted to keep the funds.
A public hearing will take place on the issue and then 2014 funds would go back to Federal HUD office.
Ms. Jenson, thank you for bringing this issue to light. However, I would like to clear up some of your statements. First of all, I am not a proponent of these funds nor have I ever been. I have opposed accepting these funds. In fact, I have been one of the most vocal opponents and agree that going forward we should not accept them. However, I am a huge proponent of helping people in need. I have learned that there are many people in need of help in Johns Creek: those that have fallen onto hard times, the senior citizens on fixed incomes, the disabled and special need citizens. These funds are designed to help those people. I am merely suggesting that we take the portion of funds that we can show can be used to help our residents in need. If there is money left over, it can be returned to Fulton County. In the future, we can hopefully work with Fulton County to distribute these funds where needed. I applaud Councilwoman Davenport for having the courage to vote with me to keep these funds and help our citizens. She truly has a heart of gold! Ms. Jenson, I hope that you and our residents will encourage the other council members to take another look at this issue and put these funds to their intended use in Johns Creek. Thanks again!
Mr. Zaprowski, Thank you for your comment. It was a heated debate, last Monday.
We all want to help people in need, and if that is what the Council felt should be utilized for the funds, it should have been discussed last year, when staff brought forward the plans for the fishing pier and wildlife observation deck.
Instead, what was discussed was the type of material to be used (wood, concrete) and if it is the best price. Last year, the discussion revolved on whether to send out to bid, which Y'all ultimately decided. Not, if the funds should go to charities.
Have a look here for last year's discussion.
After the bids came and Fulton County reviewed the plans, is the most recent issue as they questioned the legitimacy of the projects with HUD funds.
What the council did a year ago when trying to utilize funds to try and enrich senior citizens lives really has no bearing on what should be done with the money that exists now. I'm amazed that any council member would want to return money that could be used to help those that could really use it in Johns Creek.
The HUD money a year ago was to be used for park improvements at Shakerag Park that was justified by looping in the special needs community. Nothing was related to senior citizens. From what I gathered on the conversation at the work session a few weeks ago, Fulton County couldn't determine the projects met the specifications for the HUD grant. To me the council made the right decision.
If it was about helping the less fortunate in Johns Creek, why is this the first time it is being brought up as an issue? What has changed?