By Austin Groshong
Almost nine years after receiving a grant to move out of the flood plain, the city of Silex has been informed that work on new town will be coming to a close.
The city was told by Boonslick Regional Planning Commission on June 7 that the relocation grant that was approved in late 2008 will be shut down. The city held a public hearing prior to the June 12 meeting where residents could voice their concerns about the project’s closure.
Boonslick, who had been heading the project, had received instructions from the state to close the project. The decision comes after the state received pressure from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Washington D.C. to close disaster programs. Silex was one of two projects in the Northeast District that was receiving disaster funding. Hannibal was the second location. Boonslick Executive Director Chad Eggen said that the project had been kept open in case additional funds from the Hannibal project were made available.
“They were trying to keep this (Silex grant) open and Hannibal open in case there were additional funds that could come through,” said Eggen. “They had to close Hannibal, so they had to close Silex.”
Boonslick encouraged the Silex board to reapply for the next application cycle for the grant which would be in 2018. The city was told that failure to close the project would result in Silex paying back the 3.2 million for the project and would eliminate the possibility of Silex receiving any USDA funding in the future.
“I know we have to, but it is a hard pill to swallow,” said Board President Justin Spanier. “I can’t pay the three million back and I need the grant money for the sewer project.”
Silex received the relocation grant in 2008 after the flood that occurred in September of that year. The grant allowed residents the option to move to the new town location east of town. The city currently does not have any roads constructed.
“I’ve worked at construction places before and the first thing they lay down are the roads, that’s the first thing that gets laid,” continued Spanier. “We don’t even have roads. They are not even considered gravel roads, they are bases of roads to be constructed.”
Resident and former Mayor Janet Baker told the board that they should fight the state’s decision.
“I think you need to check and call your representatives and call some state people and complain about it, because that contract was signed that is what we were told,” she said. “We are working with the government, we made a pact with the government, and they are not helping us.”
Silex has not voiced its concerns to any state legislators at this time.
During the hearing, City Attorney Jeff Robertson asked Baker if she could produce the contract for his review.
“This is an issue that we have to resolve,” he told Baker. “If there is a contract, if we see a contract we can do what we can to enforce that. I want it from you because you were the one who had the contract originally.”
Baker said she would get a copy of the contract.
City Administrator William Barnes said that getting services to the people in new town will not be a major problem.
“Our main concern is getting what is deserved to the town and its residents,” he said.
Barnes said he is disappointed at the outcome of the project.
“I feel like we are being treated like a little town and that they are bigger than us and that they are picking on us,” he said.
Boonslick will be taking the comments from the public hearing to the state office for review.