CDBG program vital to our community

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 16, 2005

Let us think back to how downtown Greenville looked not so long ago.

Old sidewalks, no flowers, street signs and power poles here and there.

Or let us ponder the recent announcement that help is coming for the sewer rehabilitation for the Baptist Hill area.

These are projects, among many others in Butler County, that have been funded in part by the Community Development Block Grant program. If Washington officials have their say, these very important funds will no longer be available.

Since the program began more than 30 years ago, the annual investment in community development programs by the federal government is at approximately $4.7 billion.

These funds are used for public improvement projects and housing projects.

The rest of the funds go towards public services, economic development, land purchase, housing loans and miscellaneous public service projects.

In recent weeks, this very valuable program came under the hatchet of the Bush administration with claims that the program overlaps with too many other federal programs. The administration wants to combine the program with 17 other smaller programs.

In recent years, do you think we would have been able to do all the economic development that occurred without some type of federal funding?

Now, we are in very real danger of that much-needed money going away.

If that happens, there will be serious repercussions throughout this county.

There would be less funds for water and sewer projects.

There would be no way to be competitive with larger cities in the economic development field.

Simply stated, these grants level the playing field for us.

And now there is a real chance it could be taken away.

Let us hope that Congress is able to save the program and the president approves it.