MORGANTOWN — Morgantown City Council has approved an update to the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) action plan highlighted by major investments in recreation, sidewalks and the city’s airport.
Thus far, the city has spent or obligated just over $4.5 million of its $11,243,509 ARPA allocation. That money was provided to the city in two equal installments — the first arriving in 2021, the second in 2022.
The largest expenditure to date is the city’s $1 million contribution to Morgantown Utility Board’s Popenoe Run stream and sewer project, which also received $1 million in county ARPA dollars and is currently in the design phase.
The city has also spent or allocated $752,000 in public safety facilities supporting police, fire, engineering and public works. Another $600,000 was provided to assist the relocation of the Milan Puskar Health Right clinic, and $500,000 was distributed as small business assistance grants meant to aid industries impacted by COVID-19 and encourage new start-ups.
Funds have also been spent or allocated creating grant opportunities for nonprofits addressing physical and mental health needs ($256,000); implementing the City Ambassador Program in the downtown and Wharf districts ($252,000); bolstering city marketing and advertising efforts ($212,500); the creation of a police social worker position ($150,000); the retirement of previously accrued leave balances through policy change ($145,000); and White Park remediation efforts ($100,000).
Going forward, the city is looking to invest $1.5 million in ARPA dollars to design and build out recreational assets on MUB’s 125-acre Flegal Dam and Reservoir site off Cobun Creek Road.
The ongoing expansion efforts at the Morgantown Municipal Airport has been tapped to receive $1.4 million to aid in property acquisition supporting the current and future runway extension projects.
The itinerary also includes $1 million to create a plan of attack for pedestrian improvements and initiate the design and construction of those projects, while another $250,000 has been isolated for the creation of a Spruce Street/Deckers Creek Trail connector.
The city has also identified $600,000 in ARPA dollars to assist blighted neighborhoods by acquiring key properties that can be returned to the city’s housing stock or demolished, allowing for future green space or other opportunities.
City Manager Kim Haws said the city is making every effort to use this one-time money to leverage additional support.
“Our intent as an administration is to use as many grant funds and other funds as we can to be able to leverage as much of these funds as we can for as many things as we can possibly do in the community,” he said, noting the ARPA plan is continually in flux.
“I’m positive that in the future we’ll say, ‘Well, these really worked, but these didn’t work and we have these funds available and talk about the reallocation of some of these funds,” he said. “That’s the next step, implementing what we can and what works and coming back and reporting to council.”
The city has until Dec. 31, 2024, to obligate funds and Dec. 31, 2026, to spend the funds.