Springfield using ARPA funds to address homelessness, build fire stations

The city seeks to spend $44.2 million in federal taxpayer funds on projects with the “best long-term investment.”

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The City of Springfield spent nearly $6 million of its $44.2 million allocation of American Rescue Plan funds in 2022 toward projects that officials believe will provide tangible benefits to residents.

City spokesperson Valerie Lough said the city’s planned expenditures all fall within five categories: building four new fire departments; working on water and sewer infrastructure; awarding grants for arts, culture and recreation initiatives; renovating the City Hall parking garage; and providing solutions for affordable housing and displaced individuals.

“Our eye is on the future and ways that we can make the best long-term investment for the people of our community,” Lough said.

The city has so far spent about $5.9 million of its ARPA funds in those categories.

The largest investment went toward providing shelter solutions for the city’s homeless, as officials committed $1.7 million to purchase the Villager Inn off of North Street with the intent of turning the motel into a temporary homeless shelter — an approach officials said was necessitated by COVID-19′s economic impact.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

“COVID led to the displacement of more individuals, straining the infrastructure capacity necessary to shelter not only individuals but single parents and families with children,” said Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck. “We’ve been working at the city and county level to build capacity to address this issue.”

The city doubled down on this approach early this year with the allocation of another $2.2 million to purchase the Executive Inn off of Columbia Street. In total, Springfield plans to spend about $8.4 million on projects related to affordable housing and displaced individuals — about 19% of its total ARPA allocation.

Heck said the motel projects will provide temporary housing solutions, along with supportive services, as folks who were displaced by the pandemic transition to more stable situations.

Springfield intends to build four new fire stations across the city at a cumulative price of about $18 million. Earlier this year, the Station No. 3 off Selma Road was decommissioned ahead of the new projects. The Springfield News-Sun reported that the 1959-built station was too small to house modern fire equipment.

Lough said the new stations will “not only replace worn and outdated facilities, but will be designed and constructed to last for generations in the City of Springfield.”

In total, the city intends to spend $11 million on its water and sewer system, plus $6 million on its underground parking garage renovation above City Hall Plaza.

About $800,000 in small grants will be given to arts and recreation initiatives.

Lough said each project was chosen with a lasting impact in mind, and added that all funds will be allocated before the end of 2024 and spent before the end of 2026, per federal guidelines.

“When we started to make decisions about how these ARPA dollars could be used to benefit our community, our clear priority was to select areas where we can affect practical, long-term and sustainable change for the people we serve,” Lough said.

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a newspaper series tracking how dozens of our area’s largest governments are spending hundreds of millions of dollars combined from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Visit our “Billions in COVID aid: Where it’s going” special section on our partner newspaper’s website at daytondailynews.com/investigations/billions-in-covid-aid to see summaries from other communities.

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