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Franklin seniors could benefit from River Hills grant dollars

July 28, 2011

River Hills - Village officials are contemplating a transfer of more than $60,000 in federal funds to improve handicap accessibility at a senior living complex - but not one in River Hills.

The Village Board next month is expected to act on a proposal to give $63,747 in Community Development Block Grant funds to the city of Franklin for the installation of a sidewalk that would link to a nearby shopping complex to Clare Meadows, a Franklin senior apartment facility.

CDBG funds are administered annually to municipalities throughout the United States. In Milwaukee County, the Department of Housing and Urban Development doles out funds to 16 of the 18 suburban communities. River Hills annually receives about $20,000 in CDBG money.

The grant dollars can only be used in narrow instances - including blight elimination and handicap accessibility improvements - that often do not apply to public projects in River Hills. The village has an outstanding balance of $63,747 that has been carried over from previous years.

At a meeting last week, the board had discussed the merits of transferring the funds, which had been allocated for an expansion project at the North Shore Library that has since been placed on hold. In addition to River Hills, the North Shore Library serves Bayside, Fox Point and Glendale.

More recently, River Hills officials have been scrutinized over a proposal to sell unused CDBG funds to other municipalities - a scenario that has not occurred and is not at play in the Franklin scenario.

Village Manager Thomas Tollaksen said River Hills has transferred, not sold, CDBG funds to neighboring North Shore communities in the past.

"This would be our third time," Tollaksen said of the Franklin proposal.

In 2007, River Hills transferred about $100,000 in CDBG funds to Glendale for construction of a public elevator at Glen Hills Middle School. The project benefited seniors who utilized programs offered by the Glendale Senior Citizen Center, which also meets within the facility.

Glen Hills is a part of Glendale-River Hills, a K-8 feeder district into Nicolet High School that encompasses a small portion of River Hills within its boundaries.

More recently, River Hills also has transferred nearly $22,000 in CDBG funds toward Bayside to help the municipality fund its portion of the stalled library project.

- Dave Fidlin

AT A GLANCE

WHAT: The River Hills Village Board is slated to act on a proposal to transfer federal CDBG funds.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Aug. 17

WHERE: Village Hall, 7650 N. Pheasant Lane

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