Torrington investigation will guide use of $10 million in ARPA funds

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TORRINGTON — Residents are being asked to help spend the city’s American Rescue Plan Act money by participating in an online survey at torringtonct.org.

The survey asks residents if they support using funds to support social service agencies; whether city employees should receive a $1,000 stipend as essential workers who continued their work during the pandemic; what municipal and infrastructural improvements are needed; whether City Hall technology should be upgraded for better communication with ratepayers; and whether they support the creation of a business grant program to help local establishments recover.


The survey questions are part of a strategic plan, developed by Director of Economic Development Rista Malanca, to improve services and infrastructure using Torrington’s $10 million ARPA. Torrington has already received half the money and expects to receive the second half in June.

The $10 million, Malanca said, is intended to address economic hardship caused by the pandemic.

“In accordance with ARPA, the U.S. Treasury has provided very specific guidelines on how funds may be spent. The city must conform to legal usages and adhere to prescribed guidelines,” she said. “We contacted many community partners and stakeholders to identify the needs of Torrington residents and businesses.”

The strategic plan and survey can be viewed at torringtonct.org in the news section of the homepage.

In late February, the city council reviewed ARPA’s list of proposed expenditures for the Malanca project, which also reviewed the progress of a committee specifically tasked with processing all funding proposals and narrowing it down to a priority list. , ranked with a focus on health. care and social work, infrastructure and building improvements, a city grants administrator, a workforce coordinator, police and fire department building upgrades, a business grants program and improvements technologies for the town hall.

During that discussion, Mayor Elinor Carbone said Malanca’s presentation was intended to “put a little more meat on the bones” of the spending proposals.

“We want to put those funds back into the community,” she said.

The mayor said the residual effects of the pandemic continue.

“We are also living in a recession,” she said. “There’s a perception that it might take longer than we thought, so we feel a bit more urgency, to get the money to the community.”

City Council member Paul Cavagnero asked if some of the money could be used for long-term plans for the new secondary school project, whose committee is in the process of applying for land use permits with local councils.

“Specifically, the idea would be to use this funding to expand and build a tennis facility, offsite at Torrington High School, with the understanding that there is a serious shortage of tournament space,” a- he declared. “We could make Torrington a tournament town.”

The new design for the high school project, Carbone said, includes four tennis courts.

“There is a physical education program linked to these courts,” she said. “But there might be funds available.”

She and Cavagnero also questioned the Parks and Recreation Department’s strategic plan and said it needed to be redone.

“There has to be a fully articulated plan there,” the mayor said.

Malanca said it’s important to look at ARPA’s entire spending plan.

“We have more project requests than money, and we want to prioritize the requests,” Malanca said. “If there is money left, we can consider other things.”

Board member Keri Hoehne said she thought Cavagnero’s idea was a good one.

“For Paul, nothing on this list is exciting,” she said. “It would be great to come away with something – be it tennis courts, a football pitch, a new playground – so in a decade we can say we have come through (the pandemic) with a great new complex for our children. ”

The ARPA committee’s proposal on how to use the $10 million is detailed on Torrington’s website. Any input from the public will be added to the proposal and discussed at the March 7 city council meeting. Malanca hopes the board will vote on the spending plan at that meeting.

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