The list of projects to be funded by the Town’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allotment was revised by the Selectmen on Wednesday evening and approved by the Board of Finance on Thursday evening in a joint meeting of the two boards.
Some projects in the first draft plan were deleted, a few were adjusted, and several were added.
On Saturday June 18 from noon to 8:00 pm at the Town Hall Meeting Room, voters will cast ballots to answer the following question yes or no:“Shall the American Rescue Plan Act spending plan, as determined by both the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance, be approved?”
Before that, on Tuesday June 7, discussion will take place, as the Charter requires before a balloted vote, at a Special Town Meeting at 7:00 in the Weston High School cafeteria.
A full listing of items in the revised proposed plan appears below. But first, a summary of changes to the first draft.
A $320,000 project to construct a records room for the Police Department was withdrawn.
The Town had planned to use the amount as a match to $200,000 received from the state in 2020. Unfortunately, Town officials learned this week that, even though ARPA didn’t exist in 2020, ARPA funds cannot be used to match the state grant. The project will have to return to the Town’s capital planning process.
Also removed, a $50,000 proposal to install a generator at the Library to serve residents during prolonged power outages. It appears the idea was insufficiently specified and predicated on the assumption that a state grant would be available. As yet, no grant had been awarded. Comfort and recharging stations have generally been available at the schools during outages.
Another item was reduced. The resurfacing of Bisceglie Pond, expected in the first draft to cost $115,000, was reduced to $85,000 after an estimate was received.
With some of the freed-up money, the new plan adds $185,000 to the first draft’s $350,000 allocation to replace the Rescue 5 fire truck, bringing the total to $535,000.
That amount, plus $165,000 pledged from the Weston Volunteer Fire Department’s endowment, may cover the entire cost of the vehicle, erasing a line item from future capital budgets and upgrading the WVFD’s emergency capabilities sooner than expected.
The Selectmen and Board of Finance added $75,000 to the $500,000 allocated in the first draft to further boost road paving.
The money will be an extra shot in the arm for Weston roads. As it is, paving budgets are already more than twice the amount annually budgeted only a few years ago. Millions more are committed, with help from large state grants, as the Town continues to execute a five-year program to bring Weston roads up to par.
Mental health services: $100,000
Details are to come, but the basic idea is to provide a professional resource to help any resident experiencing mental health challenges get an assessment and referrals.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: $70,000
The funds would be used to help the town’s DEI committee work with the Library to assess diversity in its collections, conduct diversity training, train trainers who can conduct programs on an ongoing basis, and provide seed money for community programs.
Weston Food Pantry: $20,000
The Food Pantry is a 501(c)(3) organization. A basis for the ARPA legislation was to provide relief to nonprofits whose fundraising activities were disrupted by the pandemic.
Sustainability Plan: $20,000
This is another developing project, inspired by a process in Fairfield, a request from the Town’s Sustainable Weston Committee to fund professional services to create a roadmap of sorts, a guide Town functions could use to factor sustainability opportunities into decision-making.
Wi-Fi hotspot: $15,000
This project would install publicly-accessible Wi-Fi, regardless of cell carrier, in the area around Town Hall.
Water study: $15,000
The idea here is to provide seed money and create a committee to develop a scope of work and explore processes to determine if a testing program of residential well water is practically and financially feasible.
The full list
These are the projects and allocations in the plan voters will be asked to approve on June 18. Descriptions of projects unchanged from the first draft can be found in our May 12 article.
|Ravenwood water system renovation||$810,000|
|Additional road paving funds||$575,000|
|Rescue 5 fire truck||$535,000|
|Dog park access and parking||$135,000|
|Lachat Town Farm||$100,000|
|Mental health services||$100,000|
|Lachat wetlands work||$90,000|
|Bisceglie Pond resurfacing||$85,000|
|Diversity, Equity & Inclusion||$70,000|
|Emergency access way||$35,000|
|Senior Center restroom renovations||$31,000|
|Weston Food Pantry||$20,000|
|EV charging stations||$18,000|
|Town Hall Wi-Fi hotspot||$15,000|
|Transfer Station composting pilot||$10,000|