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FEMA Grants Funds for Inverness Repairs

May 26, 2005

by Carol Cormaci

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved a $1.4 million grant to the city of La Cañada Flintridge to repair major road damage on Inverness Drive that occurred during the winters heavy rainstorms, it was announced Monday by Congressman David Dreier's office.

It is estimated the repair work will carry a $1.8 million price tag, with the state of California and the city picking up the remaining 25 percent of the costs.

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According to Steve Castellanos, the city's director of public works, the grant is actually a reimbursement program. "The project could cost more, or it could cost less," he said. "They will reimburse us as the work is completed."

Currently, the city is receiving bids from firms vying to design the repair project and then oversee it as project manager. The design contract is expected to be awarded at the June 20 meeting of the LCF City Council, Castellanos said. It could take a few months to complete the project's design, he added. After that, requests for proposals will be sought for the construction, with work on the project not likely to begin until late fall.

"That's going to put us back into the rainy season?but we're going to expedite [the Inverness repairs] in any way we can," Castellanos said.

City Manager Mark Alexander stated, "We are very relieved and thrilled that Congressman Dreier and FEMA came through for us on this badly needed funding. The failure on Inverness Road was our most significant loss during the recent rainstorms. This funding will ensure that the road is repaired quickly for the benefit of all our residents and without significant impact to the city's reserves. We are grateful to our state and federal legislators for their assistance in helping to secure this funding on our behalf."

The mayor echoed Alexander's sentiments. "It's welcome news to the city," said Anthony Portantino in a telephone interview. "I'm very appreciative of our staff's efforts, which put us into position to qualify for the grant, and to our Congress member for helping it to happen."

After being persuaded by a the bipartisan California Congressional Delegation, led by Dreier, President Bush on Feb. 4 declared Los Angeles County eligible for public and individual assistance for storm damages.

"The Administration has rightfully recognized the need we have in La Cañada Flintridge," Dreier stated. "I am very thankful they have come through with this funding so that the city can be reimbursed for this road repair work. It is a great example of state, local, and federal officials working together to make Inverness Road functional again."

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