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Drought Relief Grant Being Pursued By City

With an eye toward water conservation, Oakdale City Council members recently gave staff the green light to apply for a $3.6 million state grant funded by the Department of Water Resources to address the ongoing “mow strip” issues sucking precious resources in the newer subdivisions.

Jeff Gravel, Public Services Director, went before City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 17, to present the grant opportunity, which was met with resounding approval from Council, particularly Councilmember Christopher Smith.

Citing residents’ complaints ranging from swampy conditions to constant maintenance issues, Smith said, “This is a huge step forward, especially knowing that water is becoming more and more of a gold chip … I’m loving this.”

The subdivisions affected would be Bridle Ridge, Vineyards, Sterling Hills, and Burchell Hill.

According to Gravel, one of the most significant uses of water by the City of Oakdale is irrigating the mow strips, which is further exacerbated by frequently broken sprinklers and water overrunning onto the sidewalks.

The grant would support turf replacement with rock, drought-resistant, or tolerant trees and plants.

City Manager Bryan Whitemyer pointed out the necessity of fixing the problem whether or not the city receives grant funds, but “Going after state funds makes it doable to do something actually substantial.”

If awarded, the program requires a minimum matching cost share of 25 percent of the total application unless the project qualifies for a waiver.

Still, the city may be eligible for a partial waiver of the costs once the full scope of the project is determined.

Also, Gravel stated it’s possible to portion out the share of cost by section, which would ease the city’s financial contribution sting.

There is a relatively quick turnaround from the state department as award notices will be sent out between Feb. 1 and March 30.

“Let’s cross our fingers,” Smith said of being one of the state’s lucky grant recipients.