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Springfield solicits proposals for spending COVID recovery money

Springfield City Hall
Paul Tuthill
The application to make a proposal for funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act is on the website of the city of Springfield, MA

City has $123 million in ARPA funds

The city of Springfield, Massachusetts will be soliciting formal proposals for spending its share of federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The office of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said the city will be releasing Requests for Proposals (RFP) for projects, programs, and initiatives that could be funded from the city’s allocation of direct aid from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Springfield’s share of ARPA funds is $123.8 million.

Earlier this year, Sarno announced seven categories for using the ARPA money, which are: job creation/economic development; capital projects; housing development and redevelopment; and assistance for businesses, non-profits, seniors, and neighborhoods.

“This is another moment, as my administration did with the (2011) tornado, it was transformative to rebuild the city in a positive way with a lot of neighborhood projects and I want to do the same thing with the ARPA,” Sarno said.

The ARPA RFP’s will be posted on the city’s website, will be available at the city’s economic development office and at all neighborhood library branches.

Beginning in August, Sarno held a series of listening sessions – some in-person and others remotely – to assess the impact the pandemic has had on the city and how the ARPA funds might be used.

There were meetings scheduled with almost 30 neighborhood councils, business groups, organizations and non-profits, according to the mayor’s office.

The city put up an online survey that closed in September to solicit public opinion on how to spend the federal money.

“It’s a full-court press to make sure everybody is involved,” Sarno said.

To administer the doling out of the ARPA money, Sarno created the Department of Recovery and Business Continuity and put Tom Moore, an attorney in the city’s Law Department, in charge of it.

“We have this pool of money, we’re going to do a lot of good with it,” Moore said. “It’s very exciting, very exciting.”

The city has already committed to spend some of the ARPA money.

$12 million has been applied to this year’s municipal budget to make up for lost revenue.

One-time bonuses of up to $5,000 are being paid to city employees who had to report to work last year and so were put at higher risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

The city also used $3 million to purchase three vacant-commercial buildings downtown near the MGM casino complex so the city can control how the properties are redeveloped.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.