The city council gave preliminary approval to spend $2.1 million in federal disaster recovery funds it received through Passaic County to purchase 31 mostly vacant flood prone lots in the Northside section.
The city is seeking to purchase 14 properties on East Holsman Street, 13 on Watson Street, 3 on North Bridge Street, and 1 on Bergen Street, according to city records. The contagious properties were selected based on their proximity to the river among other criteria, according to city records.
22 property owners have expressed interest in the flood buyback program. The Bergen Street property owner already completed a transaction earlier in the year even prior to the council’s approval.
That purchase was made due to pressure from Passaic County and New Jersey, according to city records. The $2,075,000 in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds is being provided via the state and the county.
Initial appraisal has been completed on ten of the properties. City officials said offers have been made to property owners based on preliminary appraisals.
Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilwoman on Tuesday evening, asked for the price the city will be paying for each of the properties. A final round of appraisals have yet to be completed, according to community development director Barbara McLennon.
Council president William McKoy sought a map of the properties being purchased. The city provided a map showing where each property is located.
Council members gave preliminary approval to purchase the 31 properties which is one more than what was previously discussed before the governing body. 2-4 Watson Street was not listed on the original ordinance, but was added in the most recent draft.
The city intends to convert the area into a river walk or a park. The city will receive additional CDBG funds to undertake the river walk concept, according to city records.
In addition to this program, the city has another buyback program that’s geared towards purchasing flood prone homes in the area. That program is funded through $5.6 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the city received in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in 2011.
A final approval with public hearing is expected to take place during the council’s regular meeting on September 29th, 2015.