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Howard to use grants to buy land near village hall

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOWARD – After meeting in closed session June 14, the village board approved the purchase of three parcels near the village hall for a combined $417,000, using money from grants.

The board’s motion includes a lot at 2444 Glendale Ave. being purchased for $175,000 with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and two lots at 2448 Glendale Ave being purchased for $242,000 with America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Village Administrator Paul Evert said the board initially voted Feb. 22 to use $417,000 in CDBG funds to purchase all three parcels, which total 2.6 acres and have two homes and a pole building, as land determined by the village to be blighted.

“The village had approximately $900,000 in this fund in cash on hand and outstanding loans,” he said. “The state is allowing municipalities to access this money for CDBG-eligible projects.”

Last fall, the board passed a resolution declaring property it is looking to purchase and some other land in the village as blighted.

Evert said the accepted offers to purchase with Karen Marks for the three parcels were contingent upon the State of Wisconsin allowing Howard to use CDBG funds from the village’s closed revolving loan fund.

“Our consultant presented our offers to purchase with Karen Marks to the state, and they have informed us that we can use the CDBG money to purchase the property with the vacant house and pole building, but they will not approve of the purchase of her home because we agreed to allow her to live there indefinitely with a life estate,” he said. “The state’s reasoning is that since we have determined her house is blighted, the building must be removed.”

Evert said the reason “seems inconsistent with the state’s condition that once purchased and the existing improvements are removed, the property cannot be redeveloped for five years.”

“This contradiction has been argued with the state with no success,” he said.

The village expects to receive more than $2 million in ARPA funds in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the first of two payments expected sometime this month.

Evert said part of the federal grant money could be used for buying the two parcels where Marks’ home is located on.

“One of the approved uses (of ARPA funds) is stormwater, and her home site can be used to provide stormwater detention for Glendale Avenue and village hall,” he said.

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