Dickinson submits list of municipal projects targeted for ARPA funds

WALLINGFORD — With the ARPA Application Review Committee getting to work on applications from small businesses and nonprofits for a piece of the town’s allocation of federal funds, the Town Council will soon be making decisions on what municipal projects will receive funding from the $13.5 million pot.

On Thursday the committee met for the first time since last fall to set the groundwork on how it will proceed reviewing the several hundred applications submitted before the Dec. 9 deadline. This week it will meet Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at HUBCAP, 128 Center St., to begin the process. It is expected to take up to two months to complete.

Meanwhile, Mayor William Dickinson Jr. has submitted a list of his recommendations for the money earmarked for municipal projects. The $31 million wishlist far exceeds the available funds, and it will be up to the council to determine which ones should be funded. The town decided after learning it would receive $13.5 million under the federal pandemic remediation program that half of the money should go toward grants to nonprofits and small businesses impacted by the pandemic, and the rest toward municipal projects that normally would have been funded under the capital projects budget.

"There's a long list of projects, something like $31 million of potential uses for the ARPA money," Dickinson said. "Ultimately, depending on how much money is available, we will have to decide what money is appropriated for what projects. That will involve discussions between this office and the council, and where there's support, they'll be approved."

Department heads made recommendations to Dickinson of projects they would like to see funded, and Dickinson compiled the final list. It includes $4 million to Wallingford Electric to go toward a fiber optic network, $8.5 million for upgrades to the water and sewer systems and $300,000 for a police mobile command station.

It also includes a few controversial spending proposals. Dickinson recommended that $5 million of the funds — which is the bulk of the money set aside for municipal work — go toward the new police station project. The Town Council this week approved increasing the bond for the station to $34.5 million from the initial $3.3 million approved for the purchase of 100 Barnes Road, the former home of 3M. That office building will be retrofitted into a new police station.

But using ARPA money for that project may again bring up the issue of PCBs at the site. The Police Station Steering Committee has spent the past two weeks tamping down concerns after Town Councilor Craig Fishbein brought up the minutes of the steering committee's Oct. 13, 2022 meeting where an architect advised making a report that mentions PCBs "disappear" because PCB testing isn't required on the site.

But should the town opt to use ARPA money toward the project, that testing may become required because of federal requirements that call for the testing on any project using federal funds.

The list also includes a request from the Parks and Recreation Department for $8.5 million for Community Pool, a project that the Parks and Recreation Commission spent years planning before Dickinson stalled those plans indefinitely last year, saying the town couldn't afford it, after it won Town Council approval.

That led in part to mass resignations on the Parks and Recreation Commission, which led to the appointment of new members last fall.

Dickinson said whether that proposal becomes a reality remains to be seen and depends on the amount of support on the Town Council and negotiations with his office.

"That depends on how much money there is and what other projects there are," Dickinson said. "There are a number of things that the Parks and Rec Department has given that they support." 

The Public Works Department's wish list includes money for a mower and two trucks, one a plow truck. It also allocates $500,000 to go toward work on the roof at Town Hall.

The Fire Department also submitted $3 million in requests, including $1.8 million for a new ladder truck; $800,000 for a pumper truck; $275,000 for an ambulance, $130,000 for a new emergency vehicle and $35,000 for an ATV rescue vehicle. It also requested $50,000 for fire station repairs. 


More From This Section