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City Council allocates ARP funds

Altoona board begins process of splitting up American Rescue Plan

City Council Tuesday approved an “initial earmark” of $4 million in American Rescue Plan funding for 11 projects designed to begin solving stormwater problems in various sections of the city.

The money set aside from Altoona’s $39 million in ARP funding will pay for a mix of planning for projects that reflect flooding concerns expressed by residents in meetings this summer and “shovel-ready” projects that had been in the works before the ARP funds became available.

“We wanted to set forth some money now so we can get the low-hanging fruit,” said Councilman Dave Butterbaugh after the meeting. “And start engineering on projects we know need to be done.”

The money will pay for:

– Modeling and subsequent design for work to alleviate flooding between the boulevards in Valley View, an area that accounted for a large percentage of the complaints in the summer after storms significantly damage both commercial and residential buildings.

– A study, subsequent design and some construction work to meet “immediate needs” in the Calvert Hills area, which could help alleviate the kind of flooding that occurred in Fairview this year, including on 21st Avenue, where a short storm in June destroyed several cars and flooded basements to the joists in some homes, according to Public Works Director Nate Kissell.

– Design for a new drainage pipe along Broad Avenue between 24th and 31st Street to alleviate flooding on Broad.

– Design for a drainage pipe along North Branch Avenue between 22nd and 24th Street to alleviate flooding along North Branch.

– Drainage improvements previously planned for Mansion Boulevard, which Mill Run floods routinely.

– A citywide “asset investigation” to identify problem areas and potential fixes.

– Design and construction for drainage relief along North Seventh Avenue between North 10th and North 12th streets.

– Drainage improvements at 32nd Street and Walnut Avenue.

– Slip lining of pipes on 17th Street.

– Spray-on concrete for an interceptor pipe in the East End.

– Design and construction for an intake whose location wasn’t identified on the list.

“We’re trying to be as wise as possible with saving as much of the funding as we can to take care of all the needs we can,” Butterbaugh said.

While council formally approved the stormwater earmark with a resolution, Councilman Jesse Ickes also recommended allocating

$5 million of the ARP money for the city’s land bank, with $2 million for a revolving loan fund.

Ickes also recommended “reconstituting” staff positions that were eliminated at the beginning of 2021 to avoid a tax increase.

The most important part of that effort would be to bring the police department back up to 66 officers, Ickes said.

Council reduced the budgeted number of officers by four at the beginning of the year.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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