On Nov. 10, $88,000 in 2021-2022 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding toward city park improvements (for Engevik Park, recently dubbed “West Side Park” by locals) was approved by the Blythe City Council per staff recommendation.

“Engevik Park (309 N. Carlton Ave.) was selected as the recipient of this year’s funding as it is in desperate need of new playground equipment. The city had planned to use Park Bond monies to address the issues at Engevik Park,” stated the staff report. “As that funding is not coming as soon as anticipated, staff would instead like to use this CDBG funding allocation for playground equipment and fall protection at Engevik Park.”

An additional $10,000 was awarded to the Blythe-area meal center Harmony Kitchen, this year’s only nonprofit CDBG public service and facility improvement project funding applicant.

The reported $98,000 in federal CDBG funds stem from the City of Blythe’s Riverside County Urban County membership.

Accordingly, the federal U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) monies are disbursed – as overseen by the Riverside County Economic Development Agency (EDA) – annually using their fair-share metric formula based on population, poverty levels, and sub-standard housing data.

“I just wanted to say thank you for considering Engevik Park for the CDBG grant. A couple of weeks ago, over like a hundred people – families and kids – came to make the park beautiful. That day was really windy, but every one stayed and helped to paint and install new commercial-grade swing seats – even a couple of our toddlers. Our pride for this new playground and this grant will definitely help,” noted Sabrina Pineda, a local who organized a grassroots “West Side Park” cleanup in late October which brought Blythe’s western neighborhood families together to address the public recreation area. “We love our park and we will keep it clean. There was some vandalism after we had cleaned up that Sunday, but within 24 hours, we painted over it. We love our park and we will keep it clean. On behalf of everyone in our neighborhood, thanks again for considering our park.”

As noted in Blythe’s submitted 2021-2022 CDBG Program Application, the allocated funds will be used to install new playground amenities and safety upgrades.

“Currently the park has a dilapidated playground, with broken equipment. The playground does not meet Playground Safety guidelines. The existing equipment will be removed by Public Works Staff and replaced with playground amenities for the children in the community,” states the City of Blythe application, dated Oct. 30. “The improvements intended include, but are not limited to: (t)he addition of playground equipment/structure for children 5-12 years of age; safety upgrades to the playground including adequate fall protection around the playground equipment; a shade structure may be included in the bid and installed in the playground if funding permits.”

The noted Estimated Timeline for Project Implementation submitted by the City of Blythe further outlines:

• Funds will be available as of July 2021. Once Notice of Funding is received, the project will be put out to bid;

• It is anticipated the successful bid will be awarded in (N)ovember/December 2021;

• Construction will begin in early 2022 with project completion in March/April 2022;

• The entire funding allocation for the 20/22 program year will be spent by June 2022.

“Once the playground equipment is installed, there will be no long-term financial commitment other than routine maintenance of the park. Routine maintenance is performed by the City’s Public Works Department,” states the City of Blythe application.

The presented CDBG funding allocations were unanimously approved accordingly by the Blythe City Council in-line with staff recommendation.

Local organizers’ continued hope for a future discussion on formally changing the park’s name from Engevik Park to “West Side Park” remains.

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