Town officials say they want to direct $100,000 in federal funding to a private group seeking to put a seasonal, open-air ice rink in Waveny.
The allocation would be part of the first allocation of nearly $6 million in new federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act, under a proposal that the Board of Selectmen reviewed during its regular meeting Tuesday.
The equipment for the rink is purchased and “the plan is to level a parking lot at Waveny to accommodate the ice rink to be in operation by Thanksgiving,” according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan.
“This is going to be, really, a public-private partnership, so to speak, in terms of we are going to help with the location and parking lot which we otherwise have to repair, it’s one of the most terrible parking lots we have at Waveny,” Moynihan said during Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Selectmen.
Those behind the rink proposal—a group that as of December 2019 included members of the Parks & Recreation Commission and Town Council, as well as municipal workers—have met out of the public eye and have described themselves a private entity (though they’ve had to appear before the town to get permission to spend money held in a municipal Special Project Fund).
That group “will offset this by charging fees” for admission to the rink, Moynihan said at the meeting.
Town CFO Lunda Asmani has said that in Connecticut, town-by-town allocations under ARPA are based on population size. The main criteria set out in the federal Act for spending is related to public health expenditures, such as enhancing COVID responses, mitigating efforts and medical expenses, Asmani has said. Other areas include addressing negative economic impacts due to COVID and replacing revenues that were lost due to the pandemic, he has said.
What follows is a table of proposed allocations of an initial approximately $3.5 million tranche discussed by the selectmen at the meeting, obtained by NewCanaanite.com through a public records request. Final decisions on the allocations are to be made by the Board of Finance and Town Council, Moynihan said:
Proposed Allocation of American Rescue Plan Act Funds
|New Canaan Playhouse||Code compliance, refurbishment||$750,000|
|Ice RInk||Project costs||$100,000|
|Flexi-Pave||Trail at Mead Pond||$125,000|
|Waveny Park Conservancy||Matching funds for projects||$250,000|
|YMCA||Expand infant daycare||$250,000|
|Waveny LifeCare Network||Expand Telehealth services||$250,000|
|NC Community Foundation||Allocations to nonprofits||$1 million|
|Open Space Fund||Expand open space protection||$500,000|
|Silver Hill Hospital||Emergency behavioral healthcare||$250,000|
Selectman Nick Williams during the meeting said all of the proposed line items were worthy causes, while also reiterating his position that the town should prioritize restoration of lost revenue to the General Fund for New Canaan taxpayers.
The town’s Parks & Recreation Commission more than two years ago took a lead on information-gathering for the proposed ice rink and in July 2019 reported that several possible sites had been eliminated for practical reasons while Kiwanis Park emerged as a strong contender. Earlier this year, the Commission formally recommended that the parking lot next to the Orchard Field at Waveny be used for the winter rink.
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