Town Votes Saturday on $3 Million ARPA Plan

Voters will cast ballots on Saturday, June 18 on the Town’s plan to allocate $3 million provided by the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Voting takes place from noon to 8:00 pm at the Town Hall Meeting Room. The ballot contains one question, to be answered 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?”

Allocations (in descending order)

Renovation of the Ravenwood water system: $810,000.

The water system, which the Town is obligated to operate, essentially needs a complete rebuild. The expense is unavoidable. An allocation of ARPA funds erases a future line item from the Town’s capital budget, which is funded by property taxes.

Road paving: $575,000

This amount would be added to funds already budgeted for paving and millions already granted to Weston by the state. The Town continues to execute a five-year program to bring Weston roads up to par.

Rescue 5 fire truck: $535,000

This allocation, which also erases a future capital expenditure, will be used to replace an emergency vehicle that has reached the end of its useful life. An additional $165,000 has been pledged by the Weston Volunteer Fire Department to complete the purchase.

Town Green: $150,000

The Town Green project, already approved but awaiting full funding, will provide an accessible community gathering space and, among other features, a renovated Memorial Garden. The allocation will be matched by the Daniel E. Offutt III Charitable Trust. With additional private contributions already committed and a continuing fundraise by the Beautification Committee, sufficient funds to build the Green will exist.

Dog park access and parking: $135,000

Construction of a dog park will be paid for by Weston Dog Park Inc., the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has already met its funding commitment. ARPA money would be used to provide access to the park. The project has been fully approved by all relevant authorities and survived years of litigation.

Tree work: $120,000

Part of this allocation would coincide with Phase One of the sidewalks plan. Most goes to work needed at Bisceglie, Keane, and Morehouse parks.

Lachat Town Farm: $100,000

This contribution goes to funds needed to furnish the Farm’s new year-round education center, such as chairs, work tables, AV equipment, teaching kitchen appliances, easels, and light fixtures. It will be matched by the Offutt Charitable Trust.

Pickleball courts: $100,000

A provision to build an outdoor facility for pickleball, an increasingly popular sport in a variety of age groups, topped the list of requests by the Parks and Recreation Department.

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.

Lachat wetlands work: $90,000

In this item, not associated with the new education center, work would include reinforcing stream banks, improving the hiking path, widening the upper field entrance, and other needs at Lachat Town Farm.

Bisceglie Pond resurfacing: $85,000

The bottom of the pond at Bisceglie Park (which is not a natural pond) needs resurfacing from time to time. An allocation of ARPA funds would keep the costs out of the Town’s budget for this cycle.

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.

Emergency access way: $35,000

Requested by emergency responders, this project would create a gated path from Wood Hill Road (a cul-de-sac from Route 57) to School Road, only to be used by emergency vehicles to reach school buildings in crisis situations.

Senior Center restrooms: $31,000

Renovation of Senior Center restrooms is already underway, but additional funds are required to complete the work.

Weston Food Pantry: $20,000

A contribution to the Weston Food Pantry, which is a 501(c)(3) organization. The ARPA legislation encourages allocations to nonprofits whose fundraising activities were disrupted by the pandemic.

Sustainability plan: $20,000

Another developing project, a request from the Town’s Sustainable Weston Committee to fund professional services to create a guide that Town functions could use to factor sustainability opportunities into decision-making.

EV charging stations: $18,000

Two stations where the public could pay to recharge EV batteries at the Town Hall campus, but the project appears to be mainly inspired by an anticipated future conversion of the Town’s fleet to electric vehicles.

Wi-Fi hotspot: $15,000

This project would install publicly-accessible Wi-Fi 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.

Transfer Station composting: $10,000

This project would fund a one-year composting pilot program to help determine the public’s interest in having a facility where compostable household waste — estimated to be about 20 percent of that in an average home — could be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way.

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June 2, 2022:  Revised ARPA Plan Set for Town Vote

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