Bee hatch

Stanislaus leaders could grant funds for much-needed projects


Andy Alfaro

Stanislaus County leaders could approve recommendations on Tuesday to spend $50 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds on improving “county islands.”

County staff members are recommending $10 million for improvements in the Bret Harte area south of Modesto and $6.87 million in the Parklawn neighborhood near Hatch Road.

Bret Harte and Parklawn are deprived areas that have been improved with sewer hookups, but have other needs, including storm drainage, sidewalks, curbs and gutters, and streetlights.

Bret Harte and Parklawn are estimated to need $58 million and $25.8 million respectively in upgrades to meet Modesto annexation standards.

County Supervisor Channce Condit plans to work with county staff to hold community meetings to discuss specific improvements to be made in both areas with the $16.87 million in ARPA funds.

The money falls short of what is needed to annex the two neighborhoods to the city, but it can cover some immediate needs such as sidewalks and street lighting, Condit said.

“All of these improvements will be great improvements for the community,” Condit said Monday. “This will make walking to school more accessible for school children, and the sidewalks will make it more accessible for older and disabled people. This is a great start and something that allows us to continue working to make things fairer in District 5 compared to other areas in the county.

Condit and the other four county supervisors expect to each have $3 million to spend on needed infrastructure in their respective districts through the county’s new “community building” program.

Condit said he would dedicate his district’s $3 million to a storm drain in the unincorporated town of Empire. The county will need to find an additional $2 million to cover the costs of the Empire’s storm drain.

If the ARPA-funded improvements are approved Tuesday evening, County Public Works will begin the environmental review process and project planning.

In 2021, county supervisors presented a plan to spend $90 million in federal ARPA relief funds, allocating $50 million for upgrading county islands that lack basic urban improvements, 30 million for economic development and job creation to help communities recover from the COVID pandemic, $5 million to create a non-profit community development corporation to help revitalize struggling communities and $5 million in navigation aids to help people access safety net services.

Needs-based allowances

In August, supervisors elected to allocate the bulk of the $50 million, earmarked for the county’s islands, to District 5 in Channce Condit, based on unmet need in that district.

In addition to the $16.87 million for Channce Condit District, the council allocated $12.2 million to Supervisor Mani Grewal’s District 4 in Modesto, $10.6 million to Council Chairman Terry Whitrow’s District 3 west of Modesto, $5.6 million to Buck Condit District 1, including Riverbank and Oakdale, and $4.7 million. million in Vito Chiesa District 2 in Turlock.

County staff are recommending $10 million for improvements in the Colorado-Rouse neighborhood of Modesto and $2.2 million for improvements in the Herndon Road area of ​​Ceres, south of the Tuolumne River. Both areas were chosen because of the possibilities of using ARPA funds as leverage to obtain money from other sources.

The Colorado-Rouse area is already part of a wastewater improvement project in western Modesto supported by community development funds.

The neighborhood could be brought up to Modesto annexation standards using the $10 million in ARPA funds, along with a potential $8 million from the State Water Board to complete the remediation project and $5 million from planned public funds from Modesto, a county staff. says the report.

A proposal to annex the Colorado-Rouse area to Modesto would trigger a protest vote.

According to the staff report, Grewal supports the allocation of funds from his district’s “community building” account, as well as ARPA funds of $2.2 million, for improvements in the Herndon Road area of ​​Ceres.

Improvements for Riverdale and Riverbank

The board of oversight will also consider a $10.6 million recommendation for improvements to Riverdale Park Tract in the district of board chairman Terry Withrow.

Riverdale Park, a future candidate for annexation to Modesto, needs sewage, sidewalk, drainage and lighting improvements. The $10.6 million in ARPA funds are not enough to cover the $13.7 million in Riverdale Park improvement costs, but county staff and Withrow will work to identify other sources of funding.

Another recommendation is $5.6 million in ARPA funds for upgrading Topeka Street and the Santa Fe neighborhood of Riverbank. The costs of the improvements are estimated at $8.15 million. County staff could discuss with the City of Riverbank more accurate cost estimates and the level of improvements required for the annexation.

In Turlock, the recommended project is $4.7 million to improve the Starr and Kenwood Avenue neighborhood, a pocket of the county that needs sewage service, curbs and gutters and storm drainage. County officials will talk about finding an additional $550,000 to cover the full cost of the upgrades.

Turlock expressed interest in annexing the Starr-Kenwood area.

The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in meeting rooms at Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St., Modesto.

This story was originally published September 20, 2022 9:02 a.m.

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Ken Carlson covers county government and health care for The Modesto Bee. His coverage of public health, medicine, consumer health issues and the healthcare industry appeared in The Bee for 15 years.