Canton Town Meeting set for vote on second round of ARPA funding
Update: This funding was approved at Town Meeting.
By Paul Palmer
CANTON – Electors at a Special Town Meeting will vote July 27th on whether or not to approve nearly half-a-million dollars on projects in the town. The funds are part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) from the Federal Government designed to help individuals and communities recover from the economic impact of COVID.
Canton received a total of $3,034,676 in total funds and split the spending plan into two parts. The first round of money – just over $2 and a half million – was used for things like supplemental funding for social/emotional services and learning support, air packs for the Fire and EMS departments, replacing broken decking on the Farmington River Bike Trail, helping to fund a new little league field at the high school and to provide air conditioning to the High School and Town Hall Auditoriums so they can be used year-round.
“We wanted to make sure we weren’t just coming up with things off the cuff,” said First Selectman Bob Bessel. “They were longstanding priorities of the community.”
The Selectmen tapped into the Capital Improvement Project Committee for help in coming up with projects that would benefit from the funding. The CIP Committee includes members of the Board of Selectmen, Board of Education and Board of Finance along with other municipal officials. They settled on an overall theme of improving the quality of life in Canton, including health and well-being, safety and outdoor recreation. They also focused on assisting non-profits and small businesses that were impacted by COVID.
“The Selectmen were all very much of a single mind in terms of theme and projects.” We were all saying, ‘what is the long-term best interest of the town?’ said Bessel. By Federal Government rules, the money cannot be used to lower tax rates and must be spent by 2026.
The first round also included funding for business support as well as non-profit and tourism funding. Every arts and non-profit that applied was awarded some money in one of the two allocations, officials said.
There was just under half a million dollars remaining after the initial round of spending. Some of it can be used to fill funding gaps if estimates on first round projects were inadequate. The town is also applying for grants to help fund some of the projects If they receive the grant money, the funds previously allocated would return to the town and be available to be used on other, new projects.
Some of the projects the Selectmen would like to fund in the second round include:
Window Replacement at Cherry Brook School $140,000
Enhanced Security Cameras $60,000
Memorial Field Improvements $64,000 (This is for irrigation but contingent on Canton Youth Soccer securing a long-term lease for the fields)
Paving Bahre Corner Road $97,481.30
Farmington Valley Health District $41,323
Speed Enforcement $30,000
Additional Funding for Round One Projects
Tall Hall Auditorium HVAC $46,000
Pool Shell $20,000
“This is an opportunity to catch up on projects that we’ve known are needed to be done, said the First Selectman. “It gave us a real good shot in the arm when it comes to doing things that the town has needed.”
The recommended projects will be voted on at a Special Town Meeting to be held on July 27 at 7 p.m. in Room F of the Canton Community Center, 40 Dyer Ave.