NEWS

Hidden Valley residents threatened by low income housing

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

Citizens from the Hidden Valley subdivision came in force to Monday night's Nov. 7, 2011 Aledo City Council meeting, to voice concerns over a low income housing development being built adjacent to their neighborhood.

Bill Baugher acted as a spokesperson for the group worrying over the potential of lower property values or bringing in undesirable neighbors. "Homeowners from our addition are here tonight ... looking at assisted living or low income housing in our neighborhood," said Baugher. "We just don't think this is the proper spot for it."

He pointed to the neighboring city of Monmouth, which has put up some subsidized housing over the past year. "In a very short time things turn out bad," he said. He said the HUD units would bring in people from out of the area. "People will come in from anywhere to get those houses," he said. "There's no way to segregate it from our neighborhood."

He also voiced concern that "if this thing does get pushed through," would the city enforce its building codes during construction and maintain properties once it is built.

He suggested there were more appropriate places for this project to be built. He encouraged the council to "fight for us a little."

Mayor Bill Breeden reassured the group that the city would certainly do its job monitoring the situation. He said that the city had not been approached at all about the project, but he would certainly look into it. Breeden also said the city had no clout over the sale of others' property. "This is a private land sale," Breeden said.

He did say there is a purchase agreement in place that is contingent on the builders getting a grant. Breeden said he would try to arrange for someone to come to the next council meeting Nov. 21.

"This is an out-lot and not a part of Hidden Valley," public works director Steve Moller said.

Revolving loan

During the committee of the whole meeting Denise Bulat, executive director at Bi-State Regional Commission spoke to the council about a $1,000,000 revolving loan fund available to businesses in both Mercer County in Illinois and Muscatine County in Iowa. The fund has been available for around a year, with no one making application for it from either area. Three-fourths of the fund comes from the federal government, with the other quarter coming from local government. The purpose of the fund is to create new jobs or retain current jobs, according to Bulat. "We are a gap financer," she said.

She said that the Quad Cities area has had a revolving loan fund available to it for the past 20 years, with $8.5 million revolved in the area three times. "We really want to loan this out," said Bulat.

Bi-state provides technical assistance to member communities, helps with writing grants and assists with Internet web sites. The Bi-state's web site (www.bistateonline.org/) also has a lot of information about area economic development, salary comparisons and census information, as well as a public officials document that is updated twice a year.