Dome dreams dashed
FEMA denies Medford school grant funds for storm shelter building
No dome is in the future for Medford Area Public School District, at least for now.
On Monday, district administrator Pat Sullivan received word from consultant Jordan Buss of JBAD Solutions, LLC. that no tornado/severe storm safe rooms were selected for funding in this round of FEMA grants. The district had hired Buss in July 2021 to help the district apply for a grant under the federal Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program.
BRIC support states, local communities, tribes and territories to undertake hazard mitigation projects, reducing the risks they face from disasters and natural hazards. The hope was to get funding to construct an approximately 13,000 square foot storm shelter structure which would hold about 1,000 people.
The school district had received pledges of support from area businesses to help cover the local match for the structure. If the district had been approved for the structure, the hope had been to use it for additional practice and physical education space to supplement Raider Hall at the high school.
According to an email received by district administrator Pat Sullivan on Monday, Buss stated “FEMA has released their selections for the FY2021 BRIC grant program this morning, and unfortunately no tornado/severe storm safe rooms were selected in the nation. This means our application was not selected for the BRIC program.”
Buss noted this does not, however, have any effect on the potential funding the project could receive through Senator Tammy Baldwin’s office.
“I will try to receive an update in the next week or so on any developments in regard to Senator Baldwin’s funding request,” he said.
While Buss had not had a chance to fully review all the projects that had received funding, he said it seemed that for this grant cycle flooding and sea rise due to climate change was the primary priority.
The district could reapply in the next fiscal year. Buss noted President Joe Biden has announced that for the FY2022 BRIC grant cycle, there will be $2.3 billion available nationwide.
“This more than doubles the amount of funding available than this past year. We expect the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the FY2022 program to be released shortly. This should give us insight into whether there will be any shifts in priority from FEMA for next year. Next year could be different, if you would want to reapply,” Buss stated.
Sullivan expressed disappointment at the district not receiving funds for the project. He said he would bring it to the board to review and see how they wanted to move forward and either reapply or drop it entirely.