GROTON – Looking for innovative projects to boost Groton’s recovery from COVID-19, the town opened applications for projects and initiatives that could use a portion of the town’s federal aid money to address pressing needs or make long-term improvements in the quality of life.
The town is seeking to allocate between $1.5 and $2.9 million of Groton’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to nonprofits, businesses, and town departments for their own projects and initiatives. Applications opened on Friday, and the deadline to apply is June 30.
“In hearing the initial ideas from organizations and businesses, you have to appreciate the amount that people have had to pivot during the pandemic,” Groton ARPA Coordinator Kevin Fitzgerald said. “And they’re looking to re-tool their efforts to better serve the community.”
Fitzgerald said the town is looking for “innovative ideas” that are financially feasible, sustainable in the long run, and can have an immediate impact on the Groton community in one of the priority categories the Groton Town Council has set for spending COVID relief funds:
- Economic development and resiliency – Initiatives that facilitate Groton’s economic recovery, and help the town respond to future public health challenges
- Infrastructure and transportation – Projects that improve access to transportation, and upgrade sewer infrastructure
- Parks & Recreation – Upgraded facilities or more opportunities for recreational programming
- Human services – Ideas to improve the town’s social services and public health infrastructure
- Arts and culture – Supporting local artists and “cultural destinations” in Groton
The program amounts to up to about a third of the $8.59 million in ARPA funding the town received – of which $5.28 million has been set aside in the town budget for the upcoming fiscal year, and nearly $400,000 of which have already been allocated for recovery efforts.
Fitzgerald said the town is suggesting funding of between $1.5 to $2.9 million to give people a sense of the funding available – so applicants know how much is realistic to ask for.
“Say someone were to approach us with a $2 million project, it wouldn’t be a great fit for that round, because that would be worth almost all the money we have,” Fitzgerald said.
The applications will be scored based on how relevant they are to the town’s priorities for spending COVID relief, and will be judged by a panel made of up members of the town’s Long-Term Recovery Committee, including town staff, members of the RTM and Town Council, and other community members, Fitzgerald said. Judging criteria will include: originality and feasibility, how much a proposal will invest in the future of the organization applying, what broader impacts the proposal will have – especially on underserved communities — and whether the proposed budget of the application is adequate and justified.
The Town Council will receive a list of the applications – ranked by their scores and with input on how affordable they are with the available funding – and will make the ultimate decision on which applications to fund.
Applications are available online now.
Fitzgerald said anyone with questions about the program or the application process can reach him by phone at 860-446-5983, or by email at email@example.com.