Delay in federal budget slows storm shelter
November 09, 2011 | 07:49 AMLYONS TOWNSHIP — Groundbreaking for a $737,000 tornado and disaster shelter at Country Estates mobile home park won't happen as expected on Nov. 19.
Country Estates is just south of Hospital Road. Offices for Country Estates and the Country Estates Sanitary District are at 6978 Prairie Lane.
The shelter will be just east of the sanitary district office on Prairie Lane.
But groundbreaking may have to wait until spring.
The problem isn't at the local end. The Country Estates Community Association has all its grants approved and funding is allocated, said Cynthia Ganka, the association manager.
The problem is at the Washington, D.C. end, Ganka said.
"The federal government is having a slight issue getting a budget approved," she said.
Without a budget, there is no money for the grant allocations, Ganka said.
No money means no construction.
And that means no OK to start the project, even with the money that may be on hand, she added.
Instead, Ganka and Country Estates will have to wait until Congress gets its ducks in a row and approves a budget.
Ganka said she's talked with federal officials at the local level and they expressed confidence the federal budget will be approved by Jan. 1.
That may mean some grant applications may have to be resubmitted.
But Ganka said her government sources told her that should not be a problem, since the funds are already allocated.
Country Estates Community Association has already received approval for a $184,000 grant through the federal Community Development Block Grant program.
That grant and a $553,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will go toward building a tornado and disaster shelter for the mobile home community.
Plans call for the shelter to be 2,455 square feet. Under FEMA regulations that would be big enough to shelter everyone living at Country Estates.
Country Estates serves 206 manufactured and mobile homes, and population of about 400.
The structure will also be handicapped accessible.
The doors of the shelter will be keyed to unlock when the disaster alert siren sounds.
The storm shelter cannot be used as a multipurpose building.
The engineering firm of Crispell-Snyder has already been hired by the Town Board to do the engineering, site testing, preliminary plans, final plans.
The company will also write the bid specifications, help the town go out for construction bids and then perform all inspections of the building.
The shelter's 12-inch concrete walls are to be designed to withstand 250 mph winds.
It would also be able to withstand blows from projectiles or wind-propelled objects.
The shelter is to be built on the site of a baseball diamond near the middle of the mobile home park.
Its location should give residents between 10 to 20 minutes to get to the shelter. The diamond will be relocated.
The shelter will have its own power generator.
It's estimated that it would cost about $5,000 a year to properly maintain the shelter, although actual costs may vary from year to year.
According to research by the community association, a tornado demolished a trailer near Country Estates in the 1970s.