HOPKINTON— Although Hopkinton was approved for $96,000 in grants to mitigate the effects of Hurricane Sandy, the funds are now in question because Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is currently denying the generator portion of the applications.
The Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) were to be used for four town projects including two $35,000 generators for Crandall House and the town hall, $1,000 in modifications to the Hopkinton Animal Shelter, and $5,000 for town-wide comprehensive plan amendments. The Hurricane Sandy CDBG’s contained special provisions that allowed Hopkinton to qualify for equipment for its public buildings, according to Hopkinton Town Planner James J. Lamphere.
At the Hopkinton Town Council meeting on Monday night, Washington County Community Development Executive Director Geoff Marchant said that the area towns had done well in presenting their needs to the state, but the state had not done as well in presenting the issues to HUD.
“The towns made a good case to the state on why they wanted the generators on hand to make response to future disasters easier to manage. But I think the state may have dropped the ball a little bit in translating that rationale to HUD,” said Geoffrey Marchant.
Councilor Sylvia K. Thompson said that she thought it might be difficult for HUD to understand why a small rural town needed generators.
“I guess it just wasn’t explained enough – in a rural town it’s a whole different situation. Now that it has been presented better as to why we need them in a rural town, I think it will be allowed,” she said.
Councilor Barbara Capalbo talked about the essential nature of generators during a storm or disaster.
“During an emergency like a snowstorm or a hurricane, none of us can get anywhere for any reason, so having a generator in a local place where you can get water, go to the bathroom, or get warm is extremely important,” she said .
“It’s one of the smartest things that helps the greatest number of people. It is indeed a no-brainer,” she added.
Landolfi said he has taken actions to keep the applications in play.
“I sent an email to Laura Sullivan at the community development department at the state asking her to please reconsider and if there’s anything else we as a council can do to make sure this money gets put back in because I believe it’s a part of this grant and should be (put back in),” he said.
Landolfi added that Sullivan said she was appealing the applications to HUD.
“There’s a local HUD office in Providence. I’m going to talk to the director there and see if there’s any traction (or) any appetite for including these generators back into the grant because we need them. Most of the state applications for these grants mentioned low to moderate income and Hurricane Sandy – and if generators aren’t a part of that, I don’t know what is,” he said.
“It’s disappointing but I’m hopeful that things will turn around. We’ll keep tabs on it, “he added.
Town Manager William McGarry was concerned about the timing of HUD’s decision and asked when the town could expect a decision.
“I haven’t heard any estimates on when they might decide,” said Marchant.
“The issue is not dead yet,” he added.