The American Rescue Plan Act has delivered a one-time COVID-era windfall of just over $6 million to the town of New Canaan. While some of these funds have already been spent or earmarked for specific projects, we are fortunate to be able to have a public debate as to how a portion of the remaining funds should be spent.
The current spike in infections from the Omicron variant tells us two important things: first, this virus will continue to mutate and is not going to disappear overnight; and second, the economic and health related effects of the pandemic are likely to linger for some time. That makes our choices as to how to spend the one-time Federal ARPA funds so critically important.
Thanks to exceptional local leadership during the pandemic, coupled with our town’s consistently prudent stewardship of municipal finances, it is my hope that we can wisely invest these funds in a way that has a positive impact on life, wellness, and healthcare services for our New Canaan residents.
Before I make any suggestions, I need to cover some background.
I write to you wearing many hats; I am a local resident, taxpayer, business owner, volunteer, former Board Chair of the New Canaan Community Foundation, and current Board Chair of the Waveny LifeCare Network. I believe my collective experiences provide a unique and insightful perspective on our community’s needs.
In my work with NCCF during a Strategic Planning process in 2018, we identified Behavioral Health as a specific area requiring focus within our New Canaan Community. At that time, we identified a vast array of resources provided by many exceptional organizations; however, it was not necessarily easy for anyone in need to gain access quickly, efficiently, or effectively to the right services for their specific needs.
Through a series of focus groups and other work, NCCF’s Behavioral Health Committee outlined a series of steps that could help bridge the gap between individuals and families to available services.