Westport: Two ARPA Projects Move Forward
Two projects on the town’s plan for American Rescue Plan Act funds—$200,000 for grants to nonprofit arts organizations in town and $1.3 million to replace the Burying Hill Beach groin (or jetty)—were officially approved by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM).
The group unanimously agreed, after some discussion, that the arts had been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and that as “an arts town,” it was their duty to support the local nonprofits.
Many members of the RTM attempted to move the Burying Hill project to be funded using municipal bonds instead of ARPA funds. Members argued that it would “free up ARPA money for other uses,” and that while the structure needed to be replaced, it wasn’t as directly to related COVID and its impacts as other projects.
Pete Ratkiewich, the town’s director of public works, argued that if the jetty were to fail, it could cause a lot of problems.
“If it does get damaged during a big storm, we start to lose the beach into the creek,” he said. If the water were to back up in the creek, “that has effects all the way up into Greens Farms.”
Art Schoeller, president of Greens Farms Association, said that they’ve been “lobbying the town for six years to take action on this deteriorating structure,” and that after the Board of Finance saw this project in person, they unanimously voted to approve the funding for it.
The RTM voted 30-4 in favor of the project after hours of conversation.