On July 17 the Firebaugh City Council heard from the Community Development Block Grant Representative, Paul Ashby, regarding the progress and completion of some of the major projects that the city qualified for.

Ashby explained that there are two types of grants available, entitlement grants and non-entitlement grants. Since a large amount of the community’s income is on the lower end, Firebaugh was able to qualify more easily than larger cities like Fresno.

On the horizon, Ashby recommended to the council that they apply for a grant that will be available in coming months. The stipulation that the state has established for the particular grant is that the project be “shovel-ready.”

This means that the state wants to see plans already drafted and the location ready for groundbreaking as soon as the funds are dispersed.

Some of the ideas that council members mentioned include improving the older Dunkle Park restroom facility, the basketball court, as well as the newer Maldonado Park with an updated basketball court, to name a few.

The state will give first priority consideration to the cities who did not receive funding the last time around. Several cities were put on a waiting list, and because Firebaugh did receive a total of $6 million to improve the water lines and create a new fire station, it may be unlikely that they are awarded another grant so soon.

The second major topic of discussion was the concern brought up by council member Brady Jenkins on the subject of fees associated with the rental of the Firebaugh Community Center.

Jenkins said there is an inconsistent amount of money being returned to renters of the hall from the deposit funds that are being collected. For example, one renter might receive the full deposit back, while someone else only receives a fraction for not having mopped.

Financial analyst Pio Martin responded that all fees are essential to combat the deficit that the community center is currently in, due to a lack of rentals during the COVID period.

In closing, Jenkins acknowledges the point about the deficit and understands that fees are an important part of helping to bring the financial standing into a positive balance.

Samantha Rangel