Radio upgrade, water/sewer expansion among ideas for spending Burrillville’s ARPA funds

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BURRILLVILLE – With mention of everything from walking trails to the expansion of broadband services, Burrillville residents have plenty of ideas on how officials should spend the town’s roughly $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding.

A call out for suggestions has brought in more than two dozen submissions from town residents, businesses and non-profits, made public this week.

The funding was approved as part of a $350 billion emergency spending package launched earlier this year by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to target pandemic recovery. Eligible projects in each community can address utility infrastructure improvements, travel/tourism, non-profit grants and more. Municipalities have until the end of 2024 to allocate the federal money, and until the end of 2026 to actually spend their share. 

In Burrillville, the Town Council has gathered resident feedback at several public hearings, and more are expected in 2022. The board also formed committees to review the submissions, which will also begin meeting early in the new year.

Residents began submitting spending ideas via the town website back in August and the full list, including some comments from reviewers, was published this week.

Among them is a request for updates to lighting, the storage/snack bar building, playing surfaces and restrooms
at Hauser Park in Pascoag.

Electronics World at 70 Pascoag Main St. asked that money be made available to renters for properties that need energy efficiency upgrades.

“Finding an affordable building to rent that is efficient with good heat, cooling, insulation and electrical is not
easy to do around here,” noted the submission.

The Burrillville Girls Softball Association submitted a request for more than $8,000 for equipment, noting that the pandemic ruined the non-profit league’s first season. The Assembly Theatre pointed to a need for updated sound and lighting equipment and residents sought other specific items, from a new bus stop, to the expansion of Well One.

A few residents suggested tax relief, while another pointed to expansion or improvement of biking and walking trails.

“This will improve tourism and attract others to come to our town and businesses,” it notes.

Most of the requests are still under review with the exception of those that wouldn’t qualify for ARPA funding, such as a submission suggesting money should be put aside to help high school students find future employment. A different federal source is dedicated to funding improvements in education.

Another resident entry, submitted in September, suggested looking into having Pascoag Utility District provide electrical service to the entire town of Burrillville.

The idea was rejected with a comment by PUD General Manager Michael Kirkwood.

“That would be all time-consuming, expensive, and not likely to succeed,” Kirkwood wrote.

But by far most often cited request was the expansion of Burrillville’s water and sewer lines, with several pointing to specific areas of town.

The Burrillville Economic Development Partnership pointed to the need for town water on Route 102 South, while another submission hoped for lines along Old Mill Street. Requests looked for sewer lines on Route 7 up to Route 102, and on the Harrisville side of Union Avenue.

Kirkwood submitted a detailed proposal for development of a new water source for the PUD, noting that logistical and technical surveys, test well siting and test drilling would cost from $139,800 to 217,500 per target well site, and installation would cost between $139,800 to $217,500.

The Harrisville Fire District submitted a $950,000 proposal to establish a second connection to the Cherry Farm Road Water Storage Tank.

“After some study, it was determined that a new water main river crossing at Sherman Farm Road was the most feasible option,” it noted.

Fire Chiefs Michael GIngell; Joseph Bertholic and Mark St. Pierre joined police Col Stephen Lynch in pointing to the often-cited need to address the emergency communications system, including an upgrade to the town-wide radio box system from analog to a digital. The submission notes the need for $234,000 for the fire alarm box project, $260,000 for radio communications and $150,000 in supplemental funding for the Burrillville Communications Center Redesign project.

“We look forward to meeting with the American Rescue Plan Act Subcommittee and Town council to review what we see as a tremendous opportunity to bring Burrillville’s Public Safety Agencies to a level of operations that properly and safely serves all members of the Town of Burrillville,” the submission notes.

The town is still accepting ideas, which can be submitted via the town website here, for qualifying projects for the estimated $5 million Burrillville expects to receive.

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