Columbia OKs ARP funding projects

·4 min read

Oct. 27—COLUMBIA — The Columbia Board of Selectmen has unanimously approved the first round of $1.6 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) grant funding.

Columbia will receive two ARP disbursements over two years, but it will have until the end of 2026 to spend all the funds.

ARP was approved in response to the negative impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the nation's municipalities.

One of the projects approved Oct. 19 in the first round of funding calls for construction of new facilities at Recreation Park.

These facilities include a concession stand/ handicap bathrooms/ storage areas, a maintenance garage and a pavilion.

The project will allow for the increased usage of the town's outdoor recreation for all residents and residents with physical disabilities.

The town estimates the project will cost approximately $ 220,000. Funding will also be used for a heating and air conditioning upgrade at town hall.

" There's a lot of areas that do not have good circulation or air quality, so we need to upgrade that," said Columbia First Selectman Steven Everett.

The town projects it will cost about $ 40,000 to upgrade the HVAC system at town hall.

The board of selectmen also approved funding to purchase an emergency generator for the Beckish Senior Center.

The generator would enable the senior center to remain open as a heating and cooling facility during major power outages.

This project is expected to cost approximately $25,000.

Columbia will also use the funding to purchase


One of the projects approved in the first round of funding calls for construction of new facilities at Recreation Park.


Columbia OKs first round of projects for ARP funding

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mobile and portable radios for the public works and fire departments, as well as for its ambulance services.

These radios will enable those agencies to connect to the state high band frequency, thus increasing their communication capabilities.

The radios are estimated to cost approximately $ 110,000.

Upgrading the Columbia Volunteer Fire Department HVAC system is another project that will be financed by ARP funds.

The system needs to be upgraded because it is 21 years old and is at the end of its useful life.

This project is estimated to cost about $25,000.

Meanwhile, funding will also go toward updating and upgrading the fire department's truck exhaust exchange system.

This system protects firefighters from carcinogens produced during the startup of the apparatus.

The system needs to be upgraded to maintain safe- working function and clean- filtered interior air.

The project is estimated to cost approximately $ 12,000.

Columbia will also spend ARP funds to upgrade the fire department's audio/ visual system.

This equipment is 15 years old.

The need to deliver training and conduct meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic was disrupted due to a lack of technology.

An upgrade in this area will allow the fire department to maintain proper training for members. An upgrade will also allow for better communication during large- scale emergencies.

This project is estimated to cost about $12,000.

Selectman Lisa Napolitano said she was pleased with how the board has chosen to allocate the ARP funds thus far.

" They were things that serve the needs of various groups in the community," she said. Everett noted that, at the Oct. 5 public hearing, residents gave a lot of good suggestions on how the town should spend the funds.

However, many of the ideas are out of the realm of possibility due to a lack of funding.

" A lot of good suggestions came from the meeting last week," Everett said Oct. 19. " But a lot of them are really outside of Columbia and the option that we can and should take."

Moving forward, the town will evaluate residents' suggestions and determine which ones are feasible.

One of the suggestions was in regards to improving cell phone service.

Selectmen have been reaching out to the owners of the cell phone towers in town to find a way to improve service.

Another issue raised was improving drainage infrastructure by Columbia Lake.

Everett said the board is considering having an environmental engineer walk the site to determine how drainage can be improved.

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