|CDBG Park Improvements|
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and assists communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs. The City of Hickory, which is allocated around $280,000 per year, depending on the federal budget, uses these funds for project improvements in lower income neighborhoods.
A large part of the funds are utilized for housing programs to assist citizens with low to moderate incomes who need help with first-time home buying, housing rehabilitation, or urgent repairs. The city also offers a microenterprise grant program for low income entrepreneurs starting their own businesses.
However, CDBG funds can also be utilized for neighborhood-wide projects in areas where residents predominately have low to moderate income levels. A past example is the construction of the Ridgeview Branch Library, which was funded, in part, by CDBG funds.
More recently, CDBG funds have been used for park improvements, creating enhanced public spaces in neighborhoods that are most in need. In 2014, a new picnic shelter and restrooms were constructed at Kiwanis Park. In 2015 and 2016, new walking trails were added to Hickory Optimist Park, as well as the construction of an outdoor gym and a community building.
“Parks fundamentally provide aesthetic and recreational benefits to the city,” explained Planning Director Brian Frazier. “Even small park improvements serve to enhance the surrounding community and CDBG funds make it possible to support the communities that need it most.”
Currently, CDBG funds are being used to help improve West Hickory Park by adding a new restroom facility and picnic shelter. Plans are already in place to begin work on Cliff Teague Park in Southeast Hickory, which will consist of additional picnic areas, trail improvements, and parking lot improvements.
“We have an extensive park system in Hickory,” said Parks and Recreation Director Mack McLeod. “It takes a lot to keep all of them maintained and updated. The CDBG funding goes a long way in supporting our parks and really makes a difference in our city.”