Mayor's Corner:Using Our ARPA Dollars For Maximum Impact
Lakewood has been opportunistic and highly successful in seeking federal dollars to support city projects and initiatives. One of our biggest wins was receiving over $47 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) to help lessen the blow that COVID-19 dealt to our municipal budget. While these dollars came with strict guidelines and uses, Lakewood has been aggressive in deploying these dollars and leveraging them to benefit our residents and address the impacts of the pandemic.
The City’s first priority was to immediately deploy over $1.6 million dollars to the Lakewood Community Services Corporation (“LCSC”) to help qualifying residents pay their rent, stay in their homes or apartments, and prevent eviction, foreclosure, and ultimately homelessness. We also invested $25 million dollars to reduce the cost to Lakewood ratepayers would have paid to repair our aged citywide sewer infrastructure. The City continued its commitment to public safety by directing ARPA dollars to increase our police department’s authorized number of officers and address ongoing capacity challenges facing law enforcement nationally. Our overall goal at City Hall is to use ARPA dollars in a manner that will have the most far-reaching benefits while also ensuring compliance with ARPA’s strict eligibility requirements.
This week, I presented to City Council a plan for allocating our remaining $9,000,000 in ARPA dollars, all of which qualify under the federal guidelines for use of these funds, and all of which would have significant benefit for the people of Lakewood. The plan is to use the ARPA dollars in the following projects and priorities:
- Housing Stability: The City will continue support of LCSC’s WORK to keep residents housed and prevent homelessness, eviction, and/or foreclosure.
- Lake-Clifton Bridge Connector: This will contribute to Lakewood’s portion to facilitate roadway improvements extending from West Clifton Boulevard to the Marion Ramps, including using excess road capacity for: greenspace; multi-purposes trail; tree planting; and community gateway enhancements.
- Foster Pool Capital Project: This project will improve accessibility and install a new competition and recreation pool, water play amenities area, splash pad, and bathhouse renovations, while also preventing the loss of one million gallons of chlorinated water due to leakage from aged infrastructure
- Recycling & Refuse Facility / Animal Shelter: This new Berea Road facility will serve multiple purposes, including streamlining and improving city recycling and refuse services, including improved physical space for aged facilities and buildout of our water and sewer infrastructure on the current site in the Metroparks.
- Downtown / Hospital Site Prep & Development: These funds will go to necessary site plan preparation and/or development work as needed to allow the redevelopment on site to proceed.
- Investment in Municipal Buildings: The City will use these dollars to underwrite the cost of replacing 60-year-old air handlers, with the result of improving ventilation, safety, and energy efficiency of City Hall, as well as other updates to police headquarters.
- Public Safety Communications Equipment & Radios: These funds will help provide new communications equipment to our fire and police personnel to help ensure the highest levels of response to citizen calls for assistance.
By using ARPA funds to pay for these important city services and projects, we feel that we are using these federal funds to create the highest impact for our city and reducing the overall cost to taxpayers.
Coincidentally, this week I will also be traveling with a group of other Ohio mayors whose cities received ARPA dollars to discuss how ARPA funds have been deployed with President Biden and his team.
I believe that Lakewood stands as a model for how to successfully invest ARPA dollars for maximum impact. Our team at City Hall will continue working to position our city to obtain future federal funds to benefit the people of Lakewood.