Meriden has taken action regarding its funding allocation under the American Rescue Plan Act. As City Manager Tim Coon recently presented to a City Council steering committee, more than $17.05 million has been designated, with infrastructure projects receiving the largest share of allocation, at $11.55 million. of dollars. Projects addressing health needs total over $2.9 million and those addressing the economic impact of the pandemic total $1.45 million.
This leaves a significant portion of Meriden’s $36.3 million ARPA funding pending allocation. As the Record-Journal recently reported, a few noteworthy projects have recently been approved by the city council following recommendations from the steering committee. One still awaiting action is a $2 million request from the Boys & Girls Club of Meriden for the renovation and expansion. As committee member Michael Rohde noted, the Lincoln Street club serves “the poorest of the poor.”
That decision was filed to await word on a club request for $2.7 million in state funding. While that makes sense, it’s also important to recognize Rohde’s point about the club and his service to Meriden. His request must be satisfied.
Funding that was approved by committee and then by council included $79,220 for the Meriden Historical Society to repair a wall in the recently acquired building on West Main Street.
Another board action that followed the recommendation of the steering committee is a United Way request that was unfortunately reduced. Centraide was seeking funding of nearly $1.05 million over three years. Meriden Mayor Kevin Scarpati, who is part of the steering committee, noted that the money is limited and that “we have many other applications that have not yet been submitted to us”. The funding recommendation was therefore reduced, lowering the allocations to 50% in the second and third years.
While caution with money is always a concern, in this case United Way’s request met a critical need after two years of COVID-related setbacks. The proposal is to develop services linking unemployed and underemployed residents to education, job training and employment opportunities and other related services such as childcare and transportation.
“I think the program is exactly what ARPA is intended for,” said Yvette Cortez, chair of the committee.
We agree. This program deserved to be fully funded, just like other initiatives that directly help residents. The Boys & Girls Club is on that list.