Beaverton hopes to secure federal funds for community projects
With federal funding on the table, Beaverton officials are hoping to receive part of the cash towards four community projects.
The Beaverton City Council is making its pitch to U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, a Beaverton Democrat, to receive federal dollars for a nonprofit incubator, a broadband feasibility study, the South Cooper Mountain Library and a behavioral health court program.
City officials say they decided to prioritize these projects based on City Council priorities, past legislative agendas and the eligibility parameters for the funds.
"With the circumstances that we're in and all that's been going on in the city, to be able to get four priority projects in front of the congresswoman is wonderful," said Beaverton City Councilor Mark Fagin during a City Council meeting on April 13. "So, thank you for picking from a reserve of things we had talked about and hopefully we'll get some of it."
The nonprofit incubator would help people in the early development phase for assistance with fiscal oversight, organizational design and planning, and finally starting up their own nonprofit group.
"The incubator would provide training on essential skills and information one needs to run a program," states the draft letter to Bonamici. "Assistance would take the form of grant writing, program planning and design, partnership development, resource acquisition, nonprofit filing and financial management."
In partnership with Washington County, Beaverton is requesting funding for a second project to fund a behavioral health court program within the Beaverton municipal court.
Since 2016, the court has experienced a 50% increase in defendants with a mental illness, according to the letter. The court handles about 3,000 criminal cases each year and plans to serve 30 individuals over the course of the grant.
"The city of Beaverton has identified that there is a clear need to provide special assistance, including a special court track for Beaverton residents with mental illness or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse disorder needs who are engaged in the criminal justice system," added the city.
The third project would focus on constructing the South Cooper Mountain Library, a proposed new branch location for the Beaverton City Library. Beaverton already has one branch location less than 3 miles to the northeast, at Murray Scholls, but that branch is small and not within easy walking distance for residents of the expanding South Cooper Mountain Neighborhood.
According Beaverton officials, the branch library would serve as an "anchor" for the neighborhood at Beaverton's southwest edge. The neighborhood is already served by Mountainside High School, Beaverton's newest neighborhood high school.
The final project highlights the need for a broadband feasibility study that would identify specific problem areas and also come up with a range of solutions, such as increased equipment; wireless internet hot spots; or possibly developing municipal broadband, like the HiLight service in neighboring Hillsboro.
Beaverton officials say that that the pandemic has exposed significant inequities in the community when it comes to internet access.
"Too many students, seniors and lower-income residents cannot afford internet or do not have access to reliable service," said the letter.
The full application for each project was due to Bonamici's office April 16.
Council members will now wait to find out if their pitch will help Beaverton move forward with the projects.
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