Improvements to Cherry Street Park and the demolition of substandard structures top a list of projects the city of Sherman plans to pursue over the next year using funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Over the next year, the city plans to invest $145,000 in improving the city park.


The city council received an update on these projects earlier this month when it approved an action plan for its Community Development Block Grant funding for the next fiscal year.


“This is money the federal government sets aside each year for us that is restricted on how it can be used,” Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said, adding that the city will receive about $358,000 through the program. These funds are typically used for public improvement projects focused on low- to moderate-income areas and neighborhoods.


In May, the city council approved spending $125,000 of CDBG funding on improvements to Martin Luther King Jr. Park using part of the city’s allocation from 2018-2019.


Meanwhile, the Sherman Rotary Club partnered with the city to add new playground equipment to Cherry Street Park. At the time, officials with the club said the donation represented investment in a part of the city that is has been ignored in the past.


“Basically, what we are trying to do is provide equipment on the east side of Sherman,” Sherman Rotary President Wally Johnson said in April. “We know it doesn’t always get the same attention as others.”


Strauch said the upcoming improvements will see the replacement of the bridge in the park alongside new swings, a pavilion and sidewalk replacement.


An additional $100,000 will be invested in the city’s demotion and clearance program. When the city moves forward with a demolition project, these funds will allow Sherman to recoup its expenses, resulting in no cost to the city.


Each demolition is unique in scope and size, but Strauch said most cost about $5,000 using city crews. With that price, Strauch said the city should be able to pursue 20 demolitions over the next year using these dedicated funds. Over the next year, the city could pursue as many as 100 demolitions under its Quality Neighborhoods program, he said.


In other matters, city council voted to advertise for bids for improvements to Kidd-Key Auditorium that will use 2018 CDBG funds. Under the proposed project, a new ramp that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act will be installed in front of the building to allow access to those with mobility issues.


“We couldn’t use these funds to paint the walls, but a project that increases access to the public would be a valid use of these funds,” Strauch said.


Prior to the ramp, people with mobility concerns would need to take a long route around the building in order to reach the front entrance. The new ramp would allow easier and more direct access to the auditorium.


City officials estimated the cost of the project at about $50,000.


“We’ve made improvements over the years to allow people with disabilities to attend events at the auditorium, but we want to take that to the next level,” he said.