A federal grant to fund the underground infrastructure along downtown Rhinelander streets looked dead as of last week, but it appears to be back on again after a meeting Monday night.
The city weeks ago was given positive indications it would get $1.6 million dollars but there was a hitch: the work had to commence next year. City officials and Downtown Rhinelander, Incorporated officials want to do the work, but felt the timeline was too short to have the details worked out to do the job successfully.
City Finance committee chair Mark Pelletier says that committee voted to reject the money last week if it had a 2015 timeline. Pelletier says that changed Monday night at the Water-Wastewater Committee meeting with different news...
"...I don't know if they called a bluff on it or what, but they went back into conversation with U.S.D.A. and (USDA) opened it back up and said, 'well, why don't you do the job in 2016 and we'll give you the money and a loan for the rest...."
So the likelihood of a grant and loan package from USDA is back on the table for the 2016-2017 construction seasons. While the city is planning to re-do downtown utilities, Downtown Rhinelander Incorporated is also planning an above ground Streetscape project in the same area. Pelletier says the longer timeline also gives the city a chance at some other grant funding that will be available.