That is what Westside City Councilor Dan Lewis called federal grant money at the Wednesday, Feb. 17 meeting. The Council debated whether to green-light an application for a $6.7 million national transit grant. The money would build a Rail Runner / Park and Ride station in the North Valley on Montaño near the railroad tracks. The request passed 6-3 in spite of Lewis’ opinion of federal monies being equal to nose candy. “I am concerned when looking into the future thinking about these grant monies, concerned about our dependency on these grants,” he said. “It almost seems like municipal cocaine.”
“I am concerned when looking into the future thinking about these grant monies, concerned about our dependency on these grants. It almost seems like municipal cocaine.”
Westside City Councilor Dan Lewis
The Montaño station project already has a portion of the land it needs and some city transportation tax money (about $230,000), but that’s still not nearly enough. Transit planners estimate about $8 million is required to buy an additional 4.1 acre parcel of property and build the station. And the vision does not end there. Planners are also studying the feasibility of building affordable housing at the station site or on adjoining lands to the West that are owned by the city and the Water Authority. Transit planners said the project has a good chance of being chosen by the feds for the grant because the money would not only go toward building a rail station but would also lay the foundation for residences to pop up around it.