Petersburg uses $ 8.8 million in US bailout funds


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PETERSBURG – City council has explained how it will spend the first $ 8.8 million in federal funding for the American Rescue Plan Act. He chose 12 projects and targets in a range of areas from the district’s stormwater drainage to the long-delayed renovation of the depot on the south side.

ARPA is a $ 1.9 trillion relief program aimed at helping the country recover from COVID-19. St. Petersburg’s share of this bill amounts to $ 20.9 million in two installments of $ 10.48 million. The second part of this funding will be available for Petersburg in June.

ARPA funds come with the stipulation that they are to be used in a specific way – supporting public health spending, to cope with the negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, to replace lost revenue from the public health sector. public sector, provide a premium for essential workers and invest in water, sewage and broadband infrastructure.

Petersburg called a special meeting to discuss the allocation of that money after questioning specific elements of spending at its regular meeting scheduled for last week. The city received 106 applications totaling $ 50 million in requested funding. City manager Stuart Turille Jr. said this first round is intended to fund projects of immediate priority.

Community recovery needs has been approved for $ 520,000. The category can be used to help individual residents who have lost income due to the pandemic. It was noticeably low at the first meeting – totaling only $ 20,000. Turille said the number was small because too few people applied who could prove loss of earnings from COVID-19. Council approved spending for community recovery with the intention of identifying details at a later date.

Rehabilitation for parks and recreation has been approved for a $ 250,000 expenses for repairing city parks, with the inclusion of a third-party master plan that will study how to update, expand or rehabilitate city parks.

Ward 1 Councilor Treska Wilson-Smith, Ward 2 Councilor Darrin Hill and Deputy Mayor Annette Smith-Lee said they preferred a $ 500,000 allowance to repair the city’s parks, naming the extensions of land at Petersburg Legends Park, Petersburg Sports Complex and Farmer Street Pool repairs. .

Ward 4 Councilor Charlie Cuthbert and Ward 5 Councilor W. Howard Myers said they preferred to have a master plan in place before spending large sums of money on repairing parks.

Cuthbert said the study may come up with better ways for city recreation staff to coordinate with other groups like public schools and the YMCA.

St. Petersburg Public Library Foundation has been approved for $ 269,000 to cover two final construction notes on the addition of its conference and event center, which is now complete after several years of planning. This room will be used to host city council meetings in the future.

A $ 975,000 amount for Organizational compensation for unsafe service for essential city workers has been postponed to a later date. The spending would give bonuses to employees who worked in person with the public during the pandemic, such as firefighters and police. However, the city is is considering a vaccination mandate and may retain the risk premium for unvaccinated workers.

EMS / fire rescue equipment has been approved for $ 263,000 for the purchase of equipment. Emergency services have also been approved for $ 325,000 to replace obsolete radio systems.

On $ 1.3 million has been approved to renovate the old Social Services Building on Farmer Street. Social services moved to Corporate Road in 2019 after mold damage and other damage to the building. City staff said they wanted the building to be used for police functions after it was renovated.

The total cost of the project is approximately $ 3.4 million. An additional $ 1.3 million is expected to be allocated to the project from the city’s second ARPA payment. Deputy city manager Tangela Innis said city staff will cover the rest of the costs through internal work.

Storm drainage infrastructure has been approved for $ 2.2 million. Four other “ready to go” projects were approved for water and sewer upgrades in Whitehill, Slagle, Claremont St. North, Lakemont, Bank St./Bollingbrook St. and Battlefield Park.

Wilcox Lake Dam has been approved for $ 90,000 to design an updated structure.

A City center master plan has been approved for $ 100,000. The plan will look at converting the space into community areas, improving traffic and parking to establish a cohesive downtown.

“The downtown plan is what we need to have to go to the granting agents and tell them we would like money to do things like renovate the parking lot, reconfigure traffic, build public access to the river, dredge. money – they won’t do it if they don’t. don’t have an up-to-date plan, ”Turille said.

The city manager told council the plan is expected to be completed by March 2022.

South side depot has been approved for $ 1.4 million to rehabilitate the building. The South Side Depot renovation has been the subject of discussion for decades. The depot is Virginia’s oldest railway station and played a pivotal role during the Civil War. It is intended to be used as the city’s visitor center. National park services estimated in 2015 that it could bring 30,000 to 40,000 additional visitors to Petersburg.

The Economic Development Authority has been approved for $ 2.3 million for a revolving credit fund. The EDA will have the power to lend these funds as it sees fit to foster new businesses and create jobs in the city. It could also be used to help fund other important projects. Turille appointed the Renovation of the Petersburg Hotel on W. Tabb Street as a potential recipient.

“It is a ravaged building in the center of downtown, a beacon of bane in an otherwise revitalizing city, and cannot go on,” said Turille. “… all the studies show that businesses will develop around a boutique hotel, not to mention the immediate increase in tourism in the city center.”

The 68-room hotel has been closed since it was destroyed by fire in 1969 and has been undergoing redevelopment since 2020.

All of these ARPA expenses add up to about $ 8.8 million of the first allocation of funds, leaving about $ 1.6 million for city council to distribute before the second ARPA payment in June.

The remaining money will go back to the board for another vote.

You can reach Sean Jones at s[email protected]. Follow him on @SeanJones_PI. Follow the Progress-Index on Twitter at @ProgressIndex.


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