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City lays out plans for ARPA dollars

MORGANTOWN — One million dollars for flood mitigation and $800,000 for the relocation of Milan Puskar Health Right out of the city’s downtown are among the items included on a plan outlining Morgantown’s American Rescue Plan Act priorities.

The city will receive $11,243,509 in ARPA dollars over the next two years. The first $5,621,754.50 installment has been received and is reflected in the draft plan presented Tuesday by city administration.

City Manager Kim Haws explained that the city received some 4,000 community suggestions through an online survey, a pair of public input sessions and correspondence provided to the city manager’s office.

The priorities, approved by Morgantown City Council on Tuesday were ranked and broken into five categories:

Goal 1: Strong Vibrant Business ($1.2 million)

This would include $500,000 for small business assistance grants of up to $10,000 each, plus an additional $200,000 for grants to aid with facade and interior improvements.

Additionally, $300,000 is included for city promotion of local events and another $200,000 to help facilitate outdoor dining, shopping and other opportunities for business to operate in open air spaces.

Goal 2: Downtown and Neighborhood Investment ($1.15 million)

Included in this section is $600,000 to help turn vacant and dilapidated housing into housing stock for homeless as well as workforce and low-income homeowners.

Another $200,000 would be set aside for low-income home improvement assistance and education. That same amount would help fund an city ambassador pilot program that would see ambassadors patrolling the city’s downtown and riverfront districts.

Recovery Goal 3: Physical and Mental Health Resources ($1.15 million)

The big item here is $800,000 for the relocation of Health Right out of its Spruce Street location and out near the Scott Avenue facility that’s become a focal point for social services.

Haws said the new facility would enhance Health Right’s services and remove some of the congestion downtown.

“The downtown is for shopping and for families together, and mental health services will be provided in one location,” Haws said.

A letter from Health Right included in Tuesday’s agenda packet indicated the agency is interested in exploring the move.

Recovery Goal 4: Water and Sewer Infrastructure ($1.75 million)

One million would go toward funding for storm and sanitary sewer improvements and stream restoration along Popenoe Run, which is a project that has been pitched by MUB and has, at least verbally, a $1 million ARPA commitment from the county.

Another $400,000 would be earmarked for improving water quality by eliminating combined sewer outflows, of which there are 36 within the city.

Lastly, $350,000 would go toward cleanup of the Monongahela River.

Recovery Goal 5: Technology ($350,000)

The lion’s share of these funds would help fund new technology that would allow the city to implement conveniences like online/in-person hybrid meetings, online permit submissions, payment of fees, request tracking, document access and more.

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