Dance studio

ARPA Panel Supports Funding for Meriden Nonprofits and Dance Studio

MERIDEN — City Council will be asked to authorize the use of federal COVID-19 relief funds for building improvements at two local nonprofits and to support a local dance studio’s efforts to renovate its space recently acquired and provide dance scholarships for families.

The American Rescue Plan Act steering committee voted Monday to recommend funding for the Boys & Girls Club of Meriden’s $2 million capital fund request to enable the organization to replace the roof and system heating, ventilation and air conditioning for its building at 15 Lincoln St.

Boys & Girls Club leaders originally submitted the organization’s proposal in April as part of a $4.98 million capital improvement project. The ARPA Steering Committee did not vote on the proposal at the time, pending further consideration.

During the April meeting, Milt Coon, Director of Resource Development for the Boys and Girls Club, outlined the overall capital project. At that meeting, he explained that the club was still awaiting a decision from the state regarding a related funding request of $2.7 million which would also be used for the project.

This week, Coon submitted a revised request for $2 million. The funding would be used to replace the club’s roof as well as its rooftop HVAC equipment. The funding would also be used to investigate the presence of hazardous materials in the building and to renovate and convert an existing locker room and shower into a new multi-purpose room.

“We’re going to completely repurpose and renovate this hall and make it a multi-purpose hall,” Coon said, explaining that the organization is looking for more space for the program so it can serve more young people.

He described the proposed roof replacement as a “safety issue”.

Coon said that in addition to helping improve the air quality of the club’s aging building, the investment would also save the club thousands of dollars a year on heating and cooling costs.

Two members of the public spoke during public comments, expressing their support for the proposal. The steering committee, after a brief discussion, voted in favor of the proposal.

Steering committee chair Yvette Cortez said she fully supports the proposal, describing the Boys & Girls Club as “an incredible organization that not only supports our children, but some of our most needy children.”

She added: “I think it’s absolutely a worthwhile investment and I hope the rest of the committee will fully support it.”

Meanwhile, the committee also supported the Women & Families Center’s request for $120,000 to update the heating and hot water systems in its building at 169 Colony Street.

A request for $75,000 submitted by Miss Chantel’s Star Dance Academy to fund dance scholarships for families in need of financial assistance and a partial renovation of the academy’s dance studio also received committee support.

According to a cost estimate submitted with the funding request, the overall cost of the project is $2 million, with construction accounting for just over $1.8 million of that cost.

On Monday evening, City Manager Timothy Coon updated the ARPA Steering Committee on the status of the funds. As of this date, the city has allocated more than $18.28 million in ARPA funding to date, to 27 separate projects. Of those projects, he noted, 16 were proposals submitted by “non-municipal organizations.”

These funds do not include a $5 million proposal from city officials to launch a commercial space retrofit program to boost the reuse of vacant downtown buildings. The council referred the proposal to its economic development, housing and zoning committee for further consideration.

The city’s total ARPA allocation, not including Board of Education funds, is $36.34 million.

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