The Town of Dartmouth has made the first withdrawal from its American Rescue Plan funds.
At its July 25 meeting, the Select Board voted to finance some of the projects that the Capital Planning Committee recommended, including the purchase of land at 245 Russells Mills Road for $290,000, which was approved by Spring Town Meeting.
The board also approved the appropriation of $60,000 toward upgrading the town website and $684,385 to updating HVAC systems in Dartmouth’s public schools.
Many of the other proposals for FY23 were put on hold until the board’s Aug. 8 meeting, as officials said they wanted to hear more from other town departments on their spending plans.
“We need to be more thoughtful,” board member Heidi Brooks said.
Fellow board member Shawn McDonald said he would like to see the funds be prioritized toward health and safety, along with long-term projects like replacing the Padanaram Bridge.
“Something has to be done,” he said, noting that the bridge has gotten stuck three times recently due to the heat.
The arms of the bridge are in particular need of work, Select Board members said.
“The last time I think that thing worked, the horseless carriage hadn’t been invented,” McDonald said.
As the board was deliberating, Connie Desbiens of the Dartmouth Housing Authority urged officials to appropriate some of the funding toward the Mendes-Monteiro housing project on Anderson Way, which would contain 10 units for elderly residents with mental disabilities.
Currently, she said, the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development requires the project to have gap funding before things are set to go.
“If we don’t receive some of [this] money, we are going to lose our project,” she said. “[Dartmouth] will lose housing for some of the most vulnerable and needy population.”
Officials encouraged Desbiens to apply for some funds through the town’s Community Preservation Committee, noting that 10% of those monies are earmarked for housing.
“If we can close that gap, I’m a little bit more comfortable giving ARPA funding,” McDonald said.