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Flowery Branch hopes stimulus cash trickles down for new water line
Flowery Branch might be able to get some economic stimulus money to install a new water line on Morrow Drive, off Lights Ferry Road, an area with low pressure and no fire hydrants. The money would come through a Community Development Block Grant. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

A pool of state money beefed up by the federal economic stimulus package could end up benefiting residents of a narrow, two-lane street in South Hall.

The city plans to apply by April 1 for a Community Development Block Grant to help pay for a $150,000 effort to install a water line in the Morrow Drive area off Lights Ferry Road, said Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew.

The area, which sits on the edge of town near McEver Road, has "inadequate water line size and no fire protection in terms of hydrants," he said. "Right now, they have to depend on a tanker truck for fire service."

"... It’s an issue that we’ve wanted to fix for a number of years. When we did the plans, we staked the area with a survey and (residents) were all very pleased — some people let us know they were glad to see some movement on that project."

Part of the 34-home area, including Second Street, lies in Hall County. Also, Second Street and the Hall County part of Morrow Drive are unpaved.

"We may be looking at a joint application on this (with Hall County) because of the number of homes that are in the county," Andrew said Wednesday. "... The majority of the homes are in the county."

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs will receive nearly $11 million in federal stimulus dollars for the grant program, which helps pay for public projects in areas that need rejuvenation, according to its Web site.

Andrew said the city has been told that "applications not approved last year but yet scored highly were being asked to be resubmitted and probably would be funded through the stimulus package."

"With that in mind, we have a good sense that if we turn in our (grant) application this year, we’ve got a good shot at funding," he said.

DCA Commissioner Mike Beatty said in a Friday memo to government officials and others that the federal stimulus won’t affect the "annual competition" for about $36 million in block grant money.

"However, we ask that applications submitted April 1 provide as much information as possible regarding the readiness of the proposed project to proceed to bid," Beatty said.

Projects that don’t get funding this year or didn’t get it last year could wind up becoming "potential applicants for stimulus funds," he added.

The department has set a June 1 deadline for stimulus applications.

"The thing about (the Morrow project) is ... it is what I regard as ‘shovel ready,’ which has always been the rub (with economic stimulus projects)," Andrew said.

The Georgia Department of Transportation, for example, is receiving nearly $1 billion from the federal package, with half of the money that must be obligated to projects within 120 days and the rest within a year.

"I think we are on that list for stimulus dollars with this project, but we also are going to be in the annual competition," Andrew said. "Either way, we are hoping to hit pay dirt."

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