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The City of Huntsville was pleased to receive notification this week that it has received the award letter from the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM), approving a scope of work for “Improvements along approximately 1.5 miles of Town Creek between 7th Street and Bearkat Boulevard in downtown Huntsville…” Acceptance of this $8,763,910.00 amount from TDEM and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to be combined with a City match of $2,921,302.00, is the culmination of over six years of work to secure the funds.
Dr. Sherry McKibben, Director of Neighborhood Services, was elated and relieved by the letter.
“We have been expecting this for some time,” McKibben said. “Knowing that the application had met all the anticipated approvals and that the monies had been allocated left only this formality to be met in order to move ahead with the entire project.”
The original timeline for completion was 24 months, but FEMA and TDEM have agreed to grant a 36-month timeline.
In April 2009, the City applied for $11.1 million in funding to the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program through the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to improve the drainage along Town Creek from Sycamore Avenue to 7th Street. Subsequently, FEMA issued a Request for Information in January 2010, and Klotz and Associates was hired to assist the City in responding.
On December 13, 2010, TDEM and FEMA awarded the City $392,000, with a match of $130,668, for Phase I Design of the project which included bringing the project to 30% design. Klotz and Associates was selected as the engineering firm for the project and was awarded the contract. On October 2, 2012, the City Council amended the contract to include an additional $105,900, for a total fee of $497,900, to complete and secure the United States Army Corps of Engineers permit and finalize the Environmental Assessment that FEMA required but did not originally fund in Phase I. This additional funding is provided by FEMA and is included as a cost overrun.
The Corps of Engineers Permit was issued on December 23, 2014. The Environmental Assessment was approved and FEMA issued a Finding of No Significant Impact on May 14, 2015 which resulted in FEMA approval to award Phase II of the project. The City Council amended the contract with Klotz and Associates on May 5, 2015 for the Design and Engineering of Phase II.
Due to the length of time working through FEMA’s requirements (six years), FEMA requested an updated project budget in January 2015. The updated project budget is $12,207,880 and FEMA has agreed to increase the original request from 2009 to reflect this amount. The $12,207,880 total project budget includes $753,003 of City “In-kind” match, leaving a cash budget of $11,454,877 needed for the project.
On June 5, 2015, FEMA released funding for Phase II of the project and, on June 23, 2015, the City was informed FEMA sent a letter to TDEM indicating the funding was obligated and available to the State. On June 9, 2015, the City Manager provided formal Notice to Proceed with final design to Klotz. As formal grant award was then imminent, the City Council authorized acceptance of the grant, signature authority to the Mayor and City Manager, and approved the requisite budget amendments on July 7, 2015.