Meriden ARPA panel backs funding for Girls Inc., little league, golf course, motel
MERIDEN — Requests for federal COVID-19 relief money considered by the American Rescue Plan Act steering committee this week included funding to improve Girls Inc.’s Lincoln Street building, as well as improvements to the grounds of ball wanted by the South Meriden Little League, the Meriden Inn’s application for capital improvements and funding for infrastructure repairs at the Hunter Golf Club.
The committee voted to refer all four applications to City Council, which has final approval authority over requests for ARPA funding.
Girls Inc.’s request for $936,230 would allow the organization to fund a series of projects to improve its seniors’ residence at 130 Lincoln St. and expand its current programming. The plan submitted by the organization includes the installation of new air treatment systems to improve heating and air conditioning, as well as the overall air quality, in the establishment’s gymnasium and in other building areas. The application also details plumbing upgrades and remediation plans for the facility’s basement and attic to reduce the risk of exposure to mold, asbestos and lead.
The proposal also aims to create new programming spaces, by converting former storage areas in the building, and to improve the organization’s outdoor spaces. The application itself is a revision of his previous application and removed funding for transportation and program scholarships.
Leaders of the organization, in the latest application, said Girls Inc. has seen its operating income decline, thanks to program fees and other fundraising, prompting leaders to conserve resources and defer maintenance projects.
At the same time, the organization said it will fulfill its commitment to serve and support girls and their families.
“We are increasingly aware of the hidden and disparate health impacts – both physical and mental – that girls are suffering as a result of the pandemic. We recognize the need for usable outdoor spaces, the myriad of factors that contribute to indoor air quality, and the need for a variety of flexible spaces for children: gymnasium, movement spaces and meditation and relaxation allow girls to practice and gain self-confidence. ability to control their physical and emotional selves,” the leaders wrote in the Girls Inc.
Chad Cardillo, chair of Girls Inc.’s board of directors, told ARPA committee members on Monday that the organization would have approached the improvements incrementally — thanks to a decades-long campaign.
Mayor Kevin Scarpati, a member of the committee, asked Cardillo how much of the funding sought by the group would support infrastructure, and how that influx of funds would help sustain the program, as well as expand it and serve more young people. . Scarpati noted that the organization said it regularly serves nearly 250 girls.
Cardillo responded that 100% of the organization’s request would go towards improving the facility. He said all of the organization’s programming — from dance to gymnastics, its after-school programming and its leadership academy — is offered in or around the current building.
“A lot of things, cleaning up the basement, the attic, fixing water damage, would allow us to move things around the building, to offer programs in more spaces in the building,” Cardillo said. By making these improvements, he said the organization would not only be able to increase the current number of programs it offers, but enroll more young people in them.
The committee voted seven to one to move the request forward to council.
The South Meriden Little League’s request for $200,000 to upgrade its grounds and surrounding facilities also received committee support. League leaders noted that due to the pandemic, the league had seen a drastic drop in the number of youth participants, as well as a drop in fundraising and other support.
Meanwhile, the committee significantly reduced Hunter Golf Club’s funding request from $568,000 to approximately $303,000. The Golf Commission had requested funds for a series of improvements, including repaving the parking lot of the municipal course, repairing its maintenance road and installing two portable toilets along the course.
The committee cut some of this funding for the reconstruction of the roads and for one of the proposed sanitation facilities.
Meanwhile, a fourth application, to replace the roof and generator at the Meriden Inn, on East Main Street, has seen its funding amount increased to $70,000. This amount is just over $2,000 more than the original request.
Company representatives noted that the roof is currently past its useful life and has leaks in places. The existing generator had been damaged when it was pinned by a motor vehicle. The company has also weathered declining revenue during the pandemic. These revenues have been impacted by the now expired moratorium on evictions.
Prior to these discussions, City Manager Timothy Coon provided the committee with an update on the status of the city’s ARPA funds. Not counting the projects now referred to council, the City has now committed over $28.5 million to municipal, local business and non-profit projects. The city has just over $7.828 million in ARPA funds remaining.