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Riverdale center could get federal boost

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Riverdale's Multipurpose Citizens Center, a key feature of the Town Center project, may receive a $142,500 boost from the federal government, if Congress and the president approve the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 (HR 1105).

The resolution, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this week, will move to the U.S. Senate floor for approval some time next week.

It passed the House on Feb. 25, by a vote of 245 to 178.

U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.), who was able to set aside $250,000 for Riverdale's multipurpose center in the federal government's fiscal 2008 budget, convinced the House to include the $142,500 for the project in this year's appropriations.

Scott said the city, whose population has grown by 23 percent since 2000, desperately needs the center to respond to a growing need for programming space.

"This is the second installment," he said. "It's very, very significant. Riverdale is a growing community and it is acquiring younger people. The city needs a gathering place ... something that is theirs. Here is something being built that fits the rapidly growing demographics of the area."

Riverdale City Manager Iris Jessie said if the funding is approved by the U.S. Senate and the president, the city will still have to apply for the funds through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). She said the additional money will allow the city to purchase additional items to enhance the center, such as a separation fence between the center and a nearby residential development, additional furniture, weight-room equipment, basketball supplies, and audio visual enhancements.

"It's been forever since we have had a building large enough to facilitate the community's needs, so we would really like to make it a nice building," said Jessie. "These are some things we would have liked to have had in the first place," she said, "but weren't crucial to construction. Originally, we may only have been able to get a basic something. We're able to increase the quality of these items."

Jessie said the funds would also help the city design a building that meets modern, energy-efficiency standards, such as recycling water and using less in utilities.

Scott said the center will provide a "psychological lift" for the city's residents and may attract more development. "It feeds into other things," he said. "You get the brand new community center, and other things can be acquired. That's how a community grows."

Jessie said the funds acquired by Scott have helped move the project forward. "It's going to open up another world for our residents," she said. "All the funds that Congressman Scott [already] has gotten for us have gone to good use. It has allowed us to get this far along in the process."