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Friday, April 19, 2024

After Supporting Mohawk Harbor Arena Project, $50K of Schenectady ARPA Funds Still Available


SCHENECTADY — The city of Schenectady has recently allocated $2.5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to the Mohawk Harbor arena project. This significant allocation, made on February 12, is expected to be the city’s final major ARPA expenditure, leaving only $50,000 in unallocated funds.

The remaining $50,000 does not account for any ARPA funds that may be returned to the city due to recipients failing to meet the funding requirements for their projects. The City Council is considering using any returned funds for city infrastructure projects.

In the summer of 2022, the council distributed a total of $25.9 million in ARPA funding to 33 projects. This was part of the city’s original allocation of $52.9 million from the federal government.

The council had to withdraw $2.5 million in ARPA funding from the planned Capital Region Aquatic Center in August after the project was moved from Mohawk Harbor to Rotterdam’s ViaPort shopping mall. This amount was then redirected to the arena project earlier this month.

The city is required to allocate all of its ARPA funding by the end of this year, and the recipients must spend the money by the end of 2026.

City Council President Marion Porterfield, following a special City Development & Planning Committee meeting on Feb. 15, suggested that any remaining ARPA funding returned to the city should be used to cover the costs of the city’s ongoing ARPA projects.

“Given our tight timeline, I believe we don’t have the luxury to allocate them to another project and complete all the necessary paperwork,” she said.

The city might receive $1.25 million in returned ARPA funding from the Miracle on Craig Street organization. The group’s efforts to secure outside funding for its project to reopen the Carver Community Center in Hamilton Hill have hit a roadblock. The council granted the organization a four-month extension in September to raise approximately $1.8 million in outside funding for the community center rehab, but the property is now being returned to the city and the project will be under the city’s purview.

During the Feb. 15 meeting, Porterfield mentioned that she had been approached by an unnamed group interested in developing the project to maintain it as a community center. Mayor Gary McCarthy added that a second outside group is interested in using the space with a focus on child daycare.

“Any interested party should be aware that this project is about $2 million short,” McCarthy said during the meeting. “If every dollar that’s on the table now [$1.25 million] is put forward, then somebody that doesn’t have $2 million in a readily available funding stream, I don’t consider a serious contender.”

Porterfield emphasized that her top priority is for the Carver Community Center to continue serving as a community center.

“Absolutely,” she said after the meeting. “There’s been a lot of talk about various other things, but that community has been without a community center since Carver closed. It’s crucial to have a community center for the youth in that community.”

Councilman Carl Williams expressed during the Feb. 15 meeting that he wants the $1.25 million in ARPA funding to remain committed to reopening the community center.

“I’d strongly oppose reallocating those funds to any other projects,” he said. “This one project fills a significant need within that community.”

Councilman John Mootooveren suggested during the meeting that the groups interested in collaborating with the city on the community center project could submit formal proposals and present them to the council at a future meeting.

“We’d look to use some of that money on that building to rehab it, fix it up and get it into some adaptable use going forward,” McCarthy said of the $1.25 million initially allocated for the project.

The council is set to withdraw $10,000 in ARPA funding allocated to the Kiwanis Club in 2022 for the organization to build 36 picnic tables that would be donated to city nonprofit groups.

McCarthy said that city workers would build a portion of the picnic tables after the Kiwanis Club had to exit the project.

The council also withdrew $76,000 in ARPA funding from Proctors in September after the city learned that the infrastructure work the theater group included in its application, which included the installation of an air-filtration system and lavatory plumbing, had already been completed by the theater before the money was awarded.

Proctors is now requesting that the city allocate $76,000 to the organization for repair work on the theater’s roof.

“I would support that request,” Councilwoman Carmel Patrick said during the meeting. “Their roof is obviously causing them major problems, and given what Proctors contributes to the economic development of the city, I thought it was a reasonable change of use.”

The council will consider the Proctors application after the city determines the exact amount of ARPA funding that will be returning to its coffers.

Kiara Thomas
Kiara Thomas
I uncover quirky and compelling stories. Always on the lookout for the 'why' behind the 'what'.
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  1. I disagree with this allocation of funds. There are more pressing needs in the community that should be prioritized over supporting an arena project.


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