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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Colfax has been awarded $592,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for the project to stabilize the Red Cedar River bank to keep the river from washing out the wastewater treatment lagoons.
Scott Gunnufson, village president, announced the grant award at the Colfax Village Board’s July 22 meeting.
“It is a great honor to say we were accepted for the $592,000 CDBG grant. That will definitely help out,” he said.
The entire cost of stabilizing the river bank, according to information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, would be about $1.6 million, and while federal funds available through the Army Corps would cover 65 percent of the cost, the village of Colfax would have to pay 35 percent, or about $600,000.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently recalculated the income eligibility of Colfax residents. People in the village are now considered to be low to moderate income, which qualified the village to apply for CDBG funds.
Colfax could have applied for up to $1 million but then must provide $500,000 in matching funds.
The money from the Army Corps of Engineers is considered to be matching funds, so with the award of the $592,000 as CDBG funds, the only cost to the village will be $35,000 to $40,000 to CBS Squared for the grant application, grant administration and project oversight.
Colfax now has 45 days to finish the paperwork to finalize the grant award.
“It’s something the board members and Lynn have been back and forth on for quite some time … Before I left (as village president) we started this project. It’s been a long time coming. I’m very happy to have that come through,” Gunnufson said.
Former Village President Gary Stene decided not to run for re-election this past April, and Gunnufson filed nomination papers and was on the ballot for village president in the spring election. Stene took over from Gunnufson several years ago when Gunnufson left the village board.
Over the last 20 years, the Red Cedar River has steadily eroded the river bank and has come much closer to the lagoons. Estimates are that perhaps one hundred to two hundred feet of river bank have disappeared.
Although the Army Corp of Engineers came to Colfax to view the erosion problem in December of 2014 and wrote the report in 2016, the village noticed a problem with the river bank eroding away by the lagoons long before that.
In August of 2010, a thunderstorm that dumped up to eight inches of rain around the area in a couple of hours caused the bank to erode even more from stormwater run-off.
The Army Corps has not yet given the final timeline for completing the project, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer.
The project to stabilize the river bank will most likely be bid out by the end of the year and construction will probably start in the spring, she said.
The Army Corps is starting the official design process right now, Niggemann said.
Anne Jenson, village trustee, asked how the process works.
“Do they just take over?” she wondered.
There are a number of steps to finalizing the grant award, Niggemann said.
One of those steps is to secure a loan with Dairy State Bank.
CBS Squared must finalize some numbers, but now that the funding has been secured, Colfax must take out a one-year loan for $630,000, Niggemann said.
Colfax will not be drawing down any funds from the bank loan, but in order to accept the grant, and as one of the requirements of the grant, the loan papers must be signed, she said.
The village must be able to prove that there is a loan for $630,000. The Army Corps of Engineers also has certain requirements, and Colfax must show the village has 35 percent of the total project cost, Niggemann said.
The village’s actual cost will be between $38,000 and $40,000 out-of-pocket for engineering costs that the CDBG funds and the funds through the Army Corps will not cover, she said.
Colfax contracted with CBS Squared to submit the grant application, but the village has not yet contracted with CBS Squared to finalize the project, Niggemann said, adding that she must find out what additional services from CBS Squared will be needed to finish the acceptance of the CDBG funds.
The $40,000 out-of-pocket could possibly come from the sewer utility fund, or the money could come from a loan from the village’s general fund, she said.
The Colfax Village Board will have to decide if the money is coming from the sewer fund or the general fund, Niggemann noted.
The CDBG grant was not an agenda item at the July 22 meeting, and the information about the grant award was announced during Gunnufson’s “communications from the village president” item on the agenda.
Chad Berge, village trustee, asked if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would be attending a village board meeting to present a plan for the river bank stabilization project.
The village has received a copy of a 500 page document produced by the Army Corps in 2016 about the lagoon bank project, Niggemann said.
Before construction starts, the CDBG grant award is requiring a new environmental study since the study already completed by the Army Corps of Engineers is three years old, she said.
Niggemann said she hoped the new environmental study could be completed this fall.
The study must be completed within six months of the project’s start date. Several different timelines must be coordinated for the project, Niggemann said.
As for whether the Army Corps of Engineers would make a presentation about the project to the village board, Niggemann said she must find out yet whether the Army Corps plans to attend a village board meeting.
Jon Strand with CBS Squared may make the presentation to the village board about what the Army Corps of Engineers is proposing for the river bank, she said.
Strand is the project engineer with CBS Squared who submitted the CDBG application for the Village of Colfax.