Fairborn spells out which 'icons,' projects will benefit from $6.8M in federal funds

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Jun. 22—FAIRBORN — A pair of iconic Fairborn buildings are earmarked for a combined 36% of the city's $6.8 million in federal rescue plan funds.

The renovation of the former Fire Station #1 ($2 million) and a project to restore the Fairborn movie theater ($500,000) are among about a dozen recipients for American Rescue Plan Act funds under a plan approved unanimously by Fairborn City Council last week.

Stormwater projects will get $1 million, while $500,000 each has been set aside for economic development, the Memorial Park construction and projects benefitting nonprofits and small businesses, city documents show.

"We wanted to find projects that were transformational, that would make a big impact, that would be something that the community could take advantage of and would be beneficial to the entire community," Fairborn City Manager Rob Anderson said.

The former fire station at 29 N. Broad St. and the theater's renovation through the Fairborn Phoenix Foundation are "projects that are icons in Fairborn that we've not been able to do much with up until now," he said.

"This is an unprecedented grant that we've been given. So we feel like those projects are appropriate," Anderson added.

Councilman Clint Allen said the recipients on the city's final list "is a whole lot different than what we started with" due largely to community feedback in an online survey and a series of town halls.

"Not everybody's going to be ecstatic about how things are going to roll out" and some may question the fire station spending, he added.

But it "is one of those icons in the city ... It's historic. We need to do what we can to preserve it," Allen said.

While calling the stormwater allotment a "huge bite of the apple," Allen said he was in favor of it. Fairborn residents have consistently raised questions about water flow and flooding as various development plans have been discussed, and the funding set aside for that shows "a conscious effort to improve and become better with that," Allen said.

Councilman Kevin Knepp also called the 34 S. Broad St. theater — which opened in 1948 — an icon.

As with the former fire station, "people will not let us walk down the street with our heads on our shoulders if we do not preserve that building in some way," he said.

"I think those two are big-dollar items. But I think they are very important items just for the image of the city," Knepp added.

Anderson said the city's goal is "to try to do our best to get these projects underway as quickly as possible."

The deadline to spend the money is Dec. 31, 2024, officials said. It can also be encumbered by that date if it is spent by the end of 2026, they added.

More than 55% of Fairborn's nearly 750 survey respondents in early March expressed support for spending Fairborn ARPA money on infrastructure and community support services, results showed.

The ARPA funds must be spent on addressing issues impacted by COVID-19, guidelines state. They can be used in a variety of ways, including grants to local businesses or workers in essential jobs.

Fairborn's portion is part of a $130 billion relief plan for local governments signed last year by President Joe Biden.

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FAIRBORN ARPA FUNDS

The city has earmarked more than a dozen areas in which most of the $6.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds will be spent. The major recipients include:

—Former Fire Station #1 renovation, $2 million

—Stormwater projects, $1 million

—Nonprofits/small businesses, $500,000

—Fairborn Phoenix/theater, $500,000

—Economic development, $500,000

—Memorial Park construction, $500,000

—Community Park parking lot repair, $400,000

—Downtown façade upgrades, $300,000

—Main Street/Central Avenue, $250,000

SOURCE: City of Fairborn