By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
A long-requested Princeton infrastructure project was again passed over when the recipients of Small Cities Block Grants were announced by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin Wednesday.
Though the city of Princeton has applied several times for funds to fix flooding issues on Stafford Drive, the city was not one of the 17 counties, cities and towns awarded a Small Cities Block Grant for the 2012 fiscal year.
Princeton Mayor Patricia “Pat” Wilson said city officials were “disappointed” to find they were again turned down for a grant to fix flooding issues on Stafford Drive, even after hand-delivering a petition with 2,000 signatures to the governor. The city had asked for $500,000 from the Small Cities Block Grant program this year and has applied four previous times for funds to fix flooding issues.
“It is a big disappointment, but in politics it is what it is,” Wilson said. “It is a huge disappointment that we did not get the funding for this project. We were willing to go to Charleston to meet the governor. He came here and we presented him with more than 2,000 signatures on a petition, and we were confident we were going to get funding from this.”
Wilson said some Division of Highways officials have come to study the issues on Stafford Drive, which is also part of State Route 19.
“The state road has been coming down to evaluate the road,” she said. “We are hoping the governor will get the Division of Highways to fix this issue. The flooding on Stafford has been an issue for what seems like forever. This is the fourth or fifth time we have applied for this particular grant.”
According to Wilson, city officials are still looking for ways to fix the flooding issues.
“Right now, we don’t know of anything else we can do to get funding for this project,” Wilson said. “We are going to continue to pursue a solution to this issue. We have presented a petition, and at this point in time it doesn’t seem like there is much we can do to really change this issue.”
Stafford Consultants conducted a free engineering study in 2003 to get to the root of flooding issues on Stafford Drive. The plan to alleviate the flooding issues calls for larger storm drainage pipes on Brick Street, which the city cannot afford.
High water on the street has been an issue for motorists, residents on Princeton and Lazenby avenues as well as for the Mercer County Senior Center on Trent Street. Officials with the senior center said they have resorted to putting sandbags at their doors during storms to prevent water from seeping into their lobby.
— Contact Kate Coil at firstname.lastname@example.org