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Add another item to CDBG menu

Holding the city’s annual Community Development Block Grant public hearing in Breeze Point Park on Thursday may bring out a couple more people to give their opinion on the city’s CDBG action plan.

Free hot dogs may help a little bit, as may the visual of Vince DeJoy, the city’s development director, manning the grill on National Hot Dog Day. For the record, we request chopped onion for our hot dogs, Mr. DeJoy.

If the city is serious about increasing public interaction with the city’s CDBG program, free hot dogs and a nice evening in the park will only go so far. A better solution is to do a better job showing the community the impact the $300,000-plus CDBG program has in the community. Often, CDBG projects don’t result in big, shiny new projects that end with a ribbon cutting and community celebration.

Knocking down a house, helping someone who needs help with a new roof or home repairs or even new sidewalks don’t lend themselves to big public proclamations about the use of the annual influx of federal dollars. But regular reporting on how CDBG dollars are used throughout the year is one way to show Warren residents that the money is being used and perhaps spark some public discussion of new ways to use the money.

Community Development Block Grant money is a lifesaver for communities like ours. It is a program that should excite people — but as is the case with much in government, the excitement has been beaten out of the program in favor of mandatory reporting, mandatory hearings and the ho-hum, “woe is me” rhythms of government.

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