Wilton revisits ARPA fund uses

  • The Wilton traffic dummy Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/20/2021 4:05:06 PM

Nearly half of Wilton’s American Rescue Plan Act funds are back on the table after the town learned the planned purchase of communications equipment isn’t an allowed use.

Towns across the state are getting access to federal COVID-19 relief funding through the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA. Wilton’s portion of the funds is about $198,000.

In September, the Wilton Select Board identified two definite projects to dedicate the funds to, but also had hopes of using the funds to install repeaters on a communications tower on Dram Cup Hill and Crown Castle.

The repeaters would strengthen radio signals for the town’s emergency departments, and fill dead spots in town, a potential solution to long-standing communication issues in town. The project is estimated to cost about $100,000, and the town was willing to use more half of the ARPA funds to purchase the repeaters.

However, ARPA funds must be used for specific uses. While the members of the Select Board were hopeful the communications infrastructure would qualify, as ARPA funds can be used for broadband infrastructure, after consulting with the town attorney, it was been determined the repeaters aren’t an allowed use.

Select Board member Kermit Williams noted that he is still in favor of the project, and that it is still a need for the town’s fire and police departments. He suggested the board include the tower on the warrant for the 2022 Town Meeting.

The town also has the option to accept funding to replace revenue lost due to COVID-19. It was suggested that the additional revenue could be used to offset the cost of the communication tower repeaters, even if it could not be funded directly.

The board did not take any further votes on what other projects it may use the funding for.

The town’s Water and Sewer Commissions asked the board to revisit requests they had made which weren’t initially selected.

The town has already voted to dedicate ARPA funds to water and sewer projects. In September, the board voted to approve $28,000 for the replacement of 22 manholes and associated roadwork on Main Street. They also approved funds for engineering work for a Water Commission project to complete a water main replacement under Route 101. The main, which stretches between the Wilton Recycling Center and the LA Limousine, will be left in place, and a new pipe placed on the roadway shoulder.

In other projects, which were ultimately passed over for this round of grant funding, the Water Department had requested a survey for a second well head district.

The Sewer Commission has also proposed a project to replace clay pipes on Maple Street and Pine Valley Street.

The board requested the Water and Sewer Commission to provide invoices or contracts for the approved projects, but didn’t take further votes on the use for the funds initially reserved for the repeaters during its Monday meeting. The discussion is expected to continue during the board’s next scheduled meeting on Nov. 1.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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