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January 27, 2010 > Milpitas participates in federal stimulus program

Milpitas participates in federal stimulus program

By Dustin Findley

On February 17, 2009, President Barrack Obama approved and signed into law the $828 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) with $396 billion earmarked for infrastructure, $144 billion for state and local fiscal needs and $288 billion for small business tax credit.

Milpitas has benefitted from the federal stimulus program in four areas - transportation, energy efficiency, public-safety Justice Assistance Grant funds and community development and housing grant funds.

Transportation funding enabled completion of the re-surfacing of Park Victoria Boulevard last fall. This project maintained 70 jobs. Total costs amounted to $744,000 but the competitive market is generating bids below engineers' estimates and resulted in a saving of $354,000, according to Greg Armendariz, City Engineer and Public Works Director.

The city was able to fund a second transportation project using residual funds and resources from other projects in other cities. Caltrans would not allow the city to begin an additional project without a regulatory, minimum budget of $500,000. With the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority's assistance, Milpitas obtained the cost savings from various cities.

"We created a second stimulus project involving two streets, Abbott Avenue and Marylinn Drive," said Armendariz. "This project will begin later this Spring with total federal funding of $665,000."

The energy-efficiency project involves the replacement of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and "chiller" systems in the Milpitas Police Department and Public Works building. The project cost is estimated at $685,000 and will include some building code upgrades. Based on current PG&E rates, the city will achieve ongoing, energy savings estimated at a minimum of $25,000 per year. Savings will increase as PG&E rates rise.

The Justice Assistance Grant of $673,000 will fund equipment purchases, including a vehicle license plate-reader system, 14 tasers, two rifles, bicycle and bicycle equipment and media duplication systems to convert old media to new media, including video and audio portions.

Calle Oriente Park will benefit from the community development and housing grant of $159,000. The sum will cover part of the total construction costs of $611,000 and enable completion of construction within the park in a single phase. Previously, the lack of funding had necessitated a two-phase construction project which includes improving access under the American with Disabilities Act 1990.

The basketball court in Calle Oriente Park slopes toward the street; this is hazardous. People with disabilities have difficulty reaching the playgrounds, sand areas and picnic areas.

This project is under construction and the city anticipates a grand opening later this Spring.

On December 16, 2009 the Jobs for Main Street Act was approved by the House of Representatives and is scheduled to move to the Senate. The legislation intends to create or save jobs here at home with targeted investments ($75 billion) for highways and transit, school renovation, hiring teachers, police and firefighters, small business, job training and affordable housing by redirecting Troubled Asset Relief Program funds from Wall Street to Main Street.

The key for Milpitas is to have "shelf-ready" projects to achieve the same level of funding as from the previous stimulus program.

"We're also being advised by the county that some Santa Clara [County] cities may not be as prepared as Milpitas," said Armendariz.

Public Works faces $4M-$5M of street re-surfacing in Spring and Summer on North Milpitas Boulevard., Dixon Road east of Milpitas Boulevard., Arizona, Washington and Abel Streets.

Additionally, there is a seismic retrofit for the water system and an energy-efficiency project entailing installation of LED parking lights at the Sports Center. Armendariz informed Council the city will apply but approval of these projects is not guaranteed.

To date, Milpitas has received $2.2M for four programs and plans to apply for at least $4M of funding for additional projects.

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