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Taino, Paul’s Deli among latest ARPA projects recommended in Meriden

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MERIDEN — The American Rescue Plan Steering Committee approved four more municipal and business projects that will go before the full City Council when it meets on Nov. 20. 

Brightside Entertainment, a youth music program at 290 Pratt St., requested $17,900 to help pay rent and purchase sound equipment, but the request was approved for $20,000 after several community members spoke out in support of the program. 

“Two weeks after I signed my lease, the pandemic hit and the world closed,” said owner Kevin Conklin. “As of this year, I’ve begun running classes for the youth of Meriden.” 

Paul’s Deli had asked for $156,000 for exterior and driveway and refrigeration work. After a presentation by owner Paul Dominello and Jessie Dominello, Mayor Kevin Scarpati, who sits on the committee, suggested decreasing that amount to $130,000, $70,000 for the exterior, $34,000 for driveway and $22,000 for refrigeration. The project is contingent on providing updated paperwork.

The business is 45 years old and in its second generation, and operated during the pandemic helping nonprofits raise funds as well as other activities. 

“We want to continue what we’ve been doing,” Paul Dominello told committee members. It’s an “old-fashioned type of business and we want to continue to offer it to the next generation. Thank you for the opportunity.”

The Taino Smokehouse Longevity Initiative for Taino Smokehouse LLC had sought $250,000 for its patio roof structure on East Main Street. Owner Chris Szewczyk shared that the business was forced to shut down during the pandemic and then faced labor-related issues when it reopemned. The restaurant is now up to full staff. 

Scarpati amended the origninal request to award $135,000 to Taino for the patio roof. He suggested that Taino could apply under the Meriden Business Investment & Growth or BIG program for the remaining projects. The committee approved the reduced amount. 

A motion to fund a proposal titled Meriden Fire Station Alerting System Replacement for Meriden Fire Department was made following a presentation by Fire Chief Ken Morgan for $400,000.

City Manager Tim Coon, seconded by Scarpati, amended the amount to $200,000. The committee tasked Coon and staff to identity the $200,000 required to complete the project and bring a resolution to the City Council.

The ARPA Steering Committee had taken a short break after deciding over the summer only $1.5 million remained of the city’s $36 million ARPA grant. Last week, Coon and Finance Director Kevin McNabola told members they felt comfortable doling out $700,000 on projects. 

“Work is continuing to go on all these projects,” McNabola said. 

As more bids come in, the committee will have a better idea of any overages, such as the YMCA roof repair that is $200,000 over bid. A quarterly report is due to the U.S. Treasury at the end of October. 

The committee also received an update on approved projects.

The Boys & Girls Club’s $2 million project is out for design. Gallery 53 has begun work on its $1.1 million roof and wall project and will begin on phase 2, the elevator.

The work at the Meriden Historical Society is under design review and is expected to go to engineering next month and later out to bid. The Meriden Inn had a bid come back at $68,500 and work is almost complete. The American Legion, in conjunction with design and site teams, will have to change the number of windows for its $42,000 project.

Girls Inc.’s $300,000 project is currently under design review. The city’s Parks and Recreation courts project has $865,000 left to spend. Most of the rest of the projects are in design phase, and bids will be going out soon. A Department of Health and Human Ser project will under-run by $870,000.

Conklin of Brightside Entertainment said he hopes to expand his music businesses, including traveling, guest speakers and new recording equipment.

“I would like to say how thankful I am for the opportunity,” Conklin said. 

mgodin@record-journal.com203-317-2255Twitter: @Cconnbiz


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