Thousand Oaks Set to Divvy Up Federal Funds

Times Staff Writer

Making Thousand Oaks' public library more disabled-accessible and beautifying poorer neighborhoods around Thousand Oaks Boulevard are among the improvement projects earmarked for $842,000 in federal funding.

The public is invited to discuss the spending proposals for next fiscal year during a hearing at tonight's City Council meeting. The money comes in the form of community development block grants, an annual appropriation from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"This is an example of the partnership we have with the federal government to improve low-income neighborhoods," said Deputy City Manager Scott Mitnick. "We also work in partnership with local service agencies to leverage their funds to generate even more money to resolve problems and issues."

Most of the money, $250,000, would go to improve ramps and bathrooms for the disabled at the main library at Conejo Creek Park North. This is part of a larger, $11.5-million expansion that will add 22,000 square feet to the facility, including a new children's department.

The city also wants to set aside $120,000 in the fiscal year beginning July 1 to continue improving the older commercial areas on or near Thousand Oaks Boulevard. Eligible businesses can receive up to $60,000 each to spruce up storefronts, comply with building and safety codes or make their shops disabled-accessible.

Additionally, $7,300 would provide partial funding for a city program to add bus shelters, trees, bike racks, trash receptacles, streetlights, planters and landscaping on Thousand Oaks Boulevard, between California 23 and Conejo School Road.

In December, the City Council decided it wanted to use federal funds to improve and beautify low-income neighborhoods by adding sidewalks, trees and other landscaping, median islands and monument signs displaying the names of the neighborhoods. The Residents Roundtable citizens' panel is devising criteria for how to select communities that will receive the aid.

Thousand Oaks is proposing to spend $50,000 to install a permanent restroom at a day-laborer hiring site along Royal Oaks Drive at Hampshire Road, next to the Ventura Freeway. So far, the city has spent more than $23,000 to install picnic tables, bike racks, landscaping and a circular driveway at the site.

More than $126,000 of the block grant would be funneled to various agencies that provide social services to youth, seniors and families at risk of homelessness or financial crisis.

Among the larger awards would be $20,000 to support several programs from low-income housing agency Many Mansions, including free, on-site child care, a health clinic and a homework/literacy program, which would benefit 1,300 low-income tenants. Lutheran Social Services, which coordinates a year-round community meals program and a winter homeless shelter, would receive $18,000. Conejo Valley Senior Concerns, which operates a senior day care center, would get $16,000.

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