In 2021, the Town learned we would receive over $8 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds from the Federal government. Taking into consideration the various restrictions around the use of the funds, Town staff worked closely with Town Council on a public input and budget allocation process to assign portions of the money to various projects.
Since then, the Town has been working diligently to deploy this funding directly into the community and get new municipal projects off the ground as quickly and efficiently as possible. What’s been done so far? What can you expect to see in the months and years ahead?
Below are a few real-time updates on some of the Town’s larger, community-centered projects:
Stormwater Management ($2,000,000):
Town staff have begun an important and beneficial stream restoration project along Lee Street from Hanover Avenue to DeJarnette Park. This project will improve Ashland’s climate change resiliency by reducing flooding issues upstream and downstream and help us meet federally mandated Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act goals to reduce water contaminants. As of July 2022, Town staff have met with all adjacent property owners and begun preliminary engineering. Construction should begin in 2023, and finish by 2024. For an idea of what this project will entail, click here for an example of a similar stream restoration project.
Accounting Software ($400,000):
The Town has operated on our current accounting software since the early 2000s, and while reliable it is also antiquated and not up to current standards. In May, the Town began a multi-year transition of our accounting software to include general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, budgeting, etc. These changes will result in greater efficiency in managing the Town’s finances as well as improved and increased online convenience for residents and customers.
Downtown Wi-Fi ($328,124):
This fall, new and FREE Wi-Fi in downtown Ashland will be available and accessible to anyone within the downtown district. The service will function much like the Wi-Fi you use at a hotel. Downtown Wi-Fi will increase patronage of downtown businesses without tying up the businesses’ own internet service and increase accessibility for individuals without internet access at home.
Carter Park Pool Play Equipment ($248,388):
Additional play and spray features, a new pool slide, and shade structures have all been purchased and ordered for Carter Park Pool. Unfortunately, supply chain issues have delayed the delivery and installation of these items, so we’ll have to wait until next summer to enjoy them.
Beyond these major projects, ARPA funds will also be used towards many capital projects including road and drainage improvements, investments in neighborhoods, contributions to local non-profits, and many more investments in our parks.
For more information on the breadth of projects that will be funded with ARPA funds now and in the years to come, see the 2021 presentations at Town Council meetings held on Sept. 21st and Oct. 19th.