Vandalia plans park upgrades with federal ARPA funds

City Manager Dan Wendt said $675,000 of Vandalia's ARPA funds will go toward improvements of playgrounds and other equipment in Robinette Park, Helke Park, and at the Sports Complex. Around $75,000 will go toward a new restroom facility at Art Park.

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City Manager Dan Wendt said $675,000 of Vandalia's ARPA funds will go toward improvements of playgrounds and other equipment in Robinette Park, Helke Park, and at the Sports Complex. Around $75,000 will go toward a new restroom facility at Art Park.

VANDALIA — The 2022 city of Vandalia budget, approved by council this week, includes over $1.5 million In federal funds, a large portion of which will be directed toward parks and recreation.

City Manager Dan Wendt said $675,000 of those American Rescue Plan Act funds will go toward improvements of playgrounds and other equipment in Robinette Park, Helke Park, and at the Sports Complex. Around $75,000 will go toward a new restroom facility at Art Park.

“Council has decided to put those unanticipated funds into amenities that improve livability for our residents, and they’re putting it in places where people will see it,” Wendt said. “It’s been some time since we’ve made really strong investments in those playgrounds, with some of them being from the late ‘90s or earlier. This is a great opportunity to use the one-time, unanticipated revenue to really improve that for children in those neighborhoods and anyone who visits Vandalia.”

Other ARPA funding will be used for benches, trash cans and enclosure improvements at bus stops, as well as a $20,000 air purification system at the Senior Center. About $240,475 will be used for various paving and utilities projects.

A total of $76,000 will go toward a project to provide touchless doorways, fountains, sinks, and toilets at the Justice Center and Rec Center. Another $10,000 will be used for personal protective equipment for the police and fire departments.

Half of the total $1.5 million in ARPA funds were received by the city this year, with the other half to be received in 2022.

Of the first tranche of ARPA funds received this year, $200,000 went toward COVID-19 small business relief and $75,000 was used for a restroom facility at the Cassel Hills Golf Course. Another $20,000 went toward youth recreation scholarships through the Dayton Foundation, and $15,000 went to the Vandalia Butler Food Pantry emergency fund, with another $15,000 promised in 2022.

Smaller projects funded using money from the first tranche include installation of solar cell charging stations in the parks, a microphone and transmitter at the Rec Center, and ultraviolet disinfectant lights for the Fire Department.

A total of $70,500 of the first tranche was allocated into public safety bonuses for police officers, firefighters and dispatchers, with full-time employees receiving $1,000 and part-time receiving $500 each.

Wendt said the 2022 budget includes allocations to upgrade the city’s internal software. According to Wendt, total cost for the upgrade is around $64,000.

“Our former software is longer supported and has become obsolete,” Wendt said. “What this new software will empower us to do, from an economic development standpoint, is to allow prospective companies to conduct what’s called electronic plan submission and review, which will allow us to improve our turnaround time and our overall business friendliness as we work hard to attract development in Vandalia.”

Total expense for the full city budget in 2022 is estimated to reach $57,540,406, with total revenue estimated at $55,149,907.

Also included in the 2022 budget is an increase in funds to the city’s street resurfacing program from $675,000 to $1 million per year.

“This progressive and proactive approach to maintaining streets will be saving the public money over the long term,” Wendt said.

The city has also budgeted for a $220,000 purchase of a 5-yard dump truck to replace an aging one. These trucks are used for snow removal and leaf pick-up.

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