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Morning Sun
  • Officials break ground at Lincoln Square

  • Pittsburg City Commissioner Chuck Munsell has a lot of memories about the former Lincoln School, once located at 16th and Locust.

    “My wife went there, and both my boys went here,” Munsell said.

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  • Pittsburg City Commissioner Chuck Munsell has a lot of memories about the former Lincoln School, once located at 16th and Locust.
    “My wife went there, and both my boys went here,” Munsell said.
    But while the school was torn down a few years ago, Munsell said he’s happy to see a new use for the empty grounds.
    “I don’t know what the plans were [before I became a commissioner], but this makes sense. It’s a neighborhood, so let it go back to being a neighborhood,” Munsell said.
    Munsell’s reference to “this” was a project to turn the site into 10 moderate-income homes with the help of a state grant. Thursday, city and state officials ceremoniously broke ground on the site.
    The project began back in August 2012, when Deena Hallacy, Pittsburg’s community development specialist, suggested working toward a Kansas Moderate Income Housing grant through the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation.
    The city received $280,000 from that grant, and used $200,000 to relocate a sewer main that goes under the block. The plan is for contractors to receive the property for free from the city, and develop a house meeting certain standards on that property.
    Moderate-income families (150 percent of the local median wage) could get up to $17,500 to help fund closing costs and down payments on the home.
    “It’s pretty exciting for us to be here, and have this new program to offer to communities throughout the state,” said Fred Bentley, director of rental development for the Kansas Housing Resource Corporation. “With federal programs, there’s a lot of red tape and income limits. We see a lot of the low-income needs are being met, but the moderate-income families fill out paperwork, and don’t see much benefit.”
    Hallacy said that the program is aimed at a subsection of the population that could use the help — and a nice home, too.
    “Down payments and closing costs are always difficult. It can be hard to get financing at this time because of the strict lending rules many banks have right now,” Hallacy said. “It’s difficult for moderate-income families to get into a decently priced home.”
    In fact, although Thursday was the ceremonial groundbreaking, the actual groundbreaking was months ago, as one contractor has a house almost ready to go. This house, like many of the homes, will be a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, ADA-compliant, energy-efficient home.
    “We’re just about ready to have someone come in and pick out colors,” Hallacy said.
    Two other contractors have already been approved, and others may be selected. Hallacy said that applications are still being taken for residents who may be interested in buying the homes.
    “I think this is really exciting. We turned a block that was really being underutilized, and just sitting here as empty space. We’ve talked a lot about housing, and we’ve put resources and a plan together in trying to meet those needs,” said Pittsburg Mayor Michael Gray.
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