Meriden ARPA panel backs funding for Girls Inc., little league, golf course, motel

MERIDEN — Applications for federal COVID-19 relief funds reviewed by the American Rescue Plan Act’s steering committee this week included funds to improve Girls Inc.’s Lincoln Street building, as well as ballfield improvements funded by the South Meriden Little League, the Meriden Inn’s application, for capital improvements and funding for infrastructure repairs at Hunter Golf Club.

The committee voted to refer all four applications to the City Council, which has final approval authority for ARPA funding applications.

Girls Inc.’s $936,230 request would allow the organization to fund a number of projects aimed at improving their retirement home at 130 Lincoln St. and expanding their current program. The plan submitted by the organization calls for the installation of new ventilation systems to improve heating, cooling and overall air quality in the facility’s gymnasium and other areas of the building. The application also details plumbing improvements and plans to remediate 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 improving the organisation’s outdoor spaces. The application itself is a revision of the previous application and removes funding for transportation and program grants.

Organization leaders said in the most recent bid that Girls Inc.’s operating income has been falling from program fees and other fundraising, prompting leaders to conserve resources and postpone maintenance projects.

At the same time, the organization said it would honor its commitment to serving and supporting girls and their families.

“We are increasingly aware of the hidden, differential health effects – both physical and mental – that girls are suffering as a result of the pandemic. We recognize the need for usable outdoor spaces, the myriad factors that contribute to indoor air quality, and the need for a variety of flexible spaces for children: gymnasium, movement rooms, and meditation and relaxation rooms allow girls to practice and gain confidence in their surroundings Ability to control their physical and emotional selves,” executives wrote in Girls Inc.’s application.

Girls Inc. chief executive Chad Cardillo told ARPA committee members Monday that the organization had approached improvements incrementally — through a decades-long campaign.

Mayor Kevin Scarpati, a committee member, asked Cardillo how much of the funding the group is seeking would support infrastructure and how this influx of funds would help sustain the program and help it grow and attract more youth to serve. Scarpati noted that the organization said it regularly mentored nearly 250 girls.

Cardillo responded that 100% of the organization’s demands would go towards improving the facility. He said the organization’s entire program — from dance to gymnastics, the after-school program and the leadership academy — is offered in or around the current building.

“A lot of that stuff, cleaning up the basement and attic, cleaning up water damage, would allow us to move things around the building and have programs in more rooms in the building,” Cardillo said. Through these improvements, he said the organization would not only be able to expand the current number of programs it offers, but also enroll more youth in it.

The committee voted seven to one to refer the motion to the Council.

The South Meriden Little League’s $200,000 proposal to improve its fields and surrounding facilities also received committee support. League officials noted that the league had seen a drastic drop in the number of youth attending, as well as a drop in fundraising and other support, as a result of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the committee significantly reduced Hunter Golf Club’s funding request from $568,000 to approximately $303,000. The Gulf Commission had requested funding for a number of improvements, including restoring the municipal course parking lot, repairing its maintenance road and installing two portable toilet facilities along the course.

The committee cut some of that funding for road remodeling and one of the proposed toilet facilities.

A fourth application to replace the roof and generator at the Meriden Inn on East Main Street increased the funding amount to $70,000. This amount is just over $2,000 more than the original claim.

Company officials noted that the roof is currently past its useful life and is leaking in a few places. The existing generator had been damaged when hit by a motor vehicle. The company has also weathered a drop in sales during the pandemic. This revenue was impacted by the now expired moratorium on evictions.

Prior to these discussions, City Manager Timothy Coon updated the committee on the status of the city’s ARPA funds. Not counting the projects now referred to the council, the city has now committed more than $28.5 million to city, local business and community projects. The city has just over $7.828 million in ARPA funds remaining.

[email protected]:@MikeGagneRJ

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