The Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control Board community will meet today to discuss a $ 605,000 grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the agency appears to have available to purchase a tire shredder.
MARC officials believed the grant the CDC made to MARC 2019 through the Louisiana Department of Health was lost after the community failed to spend the money to procure the tire shredder before the September 1, 2020 deadline.
The grant issuing deadline was originally June 1, but has been extended due to the pandemic.
Late on Thursday, a spokesman for the LDH said the state had received confirmation from the CDC that the funds to purchase the shredder were still available. This is an attractive concept for both state and federal health authorities as it has the potential to eliminate scrap tires that serve as breeding tanks for mosquitos.
However, LDS spokesman Ally Neel also says that the state has the authority of the government to divert the money to meet another mosquito-related need, adding, “We have not yet made a decision to divert it . “
It is unclear what might cause the state to divert the money or when it might decide to do so.
What is clear is that the controversy surrounding the tire shredder has become a kind of political football. Metro Council member and mayoral candidate Matt Watson blames Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s government for the delays that have threatened the status of the funds and various cities and towns with government agencies pointing fingers at each other.
Watson was an early proponent of the program because scrap tires caused rot across the community. A few months ago he identified a private contractor, Baum Environmental, as a partner in the township and helped broker a deal between them.
But the Metro Council, not the Broome administration, was the one blocking the deal when it overturned the location MARC originally planned for the shredder – a location of MARC property near the airport – against the Councilor Chauna Banks spoke out about the causes of environmental racism.
Later efforts to find a new location proved difficult, although Baum Environmental had found a location in the past few weeks and reportedly agreed to purchase it and rent it to the township for a small fee.
The Council did not approve this amendment to its contract with Baum.
It is unclear what action, if any, the MARC Board will take when it meets at 12:30 p.m. today at MARC headquarters.
MARC Executive Director Randy Vaeth could not be reached for comment, but Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Gissel says the administration is relieved that the money for the project is still available.
“We’re glad this has been resolved,” he says.