Medford talks about what to do with its million bucks

As the $1 million from the federal stimulus package for transportation makes its way down to Main Street, the Medford City Council, while acknowleging it was a moderate amount of cash, held a Thursday study session to talk about what to do with it.

Council members gave the go-ahead for fellow Councilman Al Densmore to report back to the Metropolitan Planning Organization's Policy Committee to endorse the MPO's Technical Advisory Committee formula that allows each of the county's jurisdictions to find the highest and best use of the money and report back in 30 days.

The transportation stimulus for the county totals $2.7 million, of which Medford will get about $1 million.

Some council members grumbled that $1 million would not go far, but city Public Works Director Cory Crebbin, who made a presentation to the council, said in an interview it would be "helpful," especially in light of the decline of income from Systems Development Charges.

The funds, which require no match and allow no right-of-way acquisition, will be allocated by the MPO and were intended to be disbursed quickly, for maximum benefit to the economy, said Densmore.

The council, which doesn't vote in study sessions, rejected the idea of any regional project in which jurisdictions would cooperate and pool funds.

Densmore, a member of the MPO's Technical Advisory Committee, said the funds might go for such projects as the Bear Creek Greenway connection over Barnett Road, the overlay of Hillcrest or the extension of Holly Street.

The council also reviewed the process for developing a five-year plan with Community Development Block Grants, which will be higher this year because of the federal stimulus and could help low-income homeowners who are upside-down with mortgages and "in a world of hurt," said Councilman Chris Corcoran.

Densmore said the federal funding also could be used for micro-enterprise development loans in areas with low income and high unemployment.

The CDBG has been about $550,000 but the new total is not yet known. But Densmore said in an interview that it, "will be revealed slowly, like in a kabuki dance and will be pushed through existing government agencies, like a snake swallowing a mouse."

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