SCHENECTADY — The city will take a step closer to allocating millions in coronavirus relief funding this week, including $450,000 to design plans for a proposed Central Park pool.
The City Council, on Tuesday, is expected to hold a discussion about appointing a special committee to help decide how to allocate the $53 million in funding received under the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill approved by Congress last year.
To help decide how best to spend the money, the city hosted a number of community meetings and distributed surveys last year seeking feedback from residents. An online application was then launched, allowing organizations seeking ARPA money to apply for funding.
Now, the council is seeking to appoint a committee made up of local residents to help review the 70 applications the city received, according to a legislative request form filed by council president Marion Porterfield.
“During the neighborhood tours, a recurring recommendation was to have city residents to be included on the review team,” the form reads. “This will alleviate some of the burden on the city staff and get community input to help evaluate the types of projects to be considered for funding.”
The council will work with community groups to identify individuals that will work with city staff to review the applications.
To date, the city has received just over $26 million in ARPA funding, which has been used to recoup lost revenue, hire new employees and provide funding for various local nonprofits.
An additional $26 million is expected to be paid out by the federal government in the coming months, which can be used to fund a number of infrastructure projects, provide premium pay for essential workers and assist communities disproportionately impacted by the virus.
A timeline for when the money will be distributed is unclear, though the city must allocate the funds by 2024 and spend the money by the end of 2026. Unspent funds must be returned to the federal government.
dive into pool plans
The council’s Finance Committee is also expected to vote on a measure to enter into a contract with the engineering firm Saratoga Associates and Aquattica, a pool design firm based in Voorheesville, to “evaluate and design a new pool complex” that would relocate the Central Park pool to an area near the vacant tennis stadium using ARPA funding.
The new pool, which is expected to cost around $3 million, was first proposed last month as a way of replacing the park’s existing 56,300-square-foot swim facility that sits adjacent to Iroquois Lake and no longer meets state standards. The current pool lacks a proper filtration system and has come under siege by geese that call the nearby lake home. Upgrading the existing pool would cost between $8 million and $10 million.
Initial designs, unveiled by Saratoga Associates last month, showed a “Z-shaped” pool, bathhouse, picnic area and lighted pathways, though those designs were not yet finalized.
The contract includes a multiphase design process that will take place over the coming months and includes a series of stakeholder meetings, according to a proposal for design development Saratoga Associates submitted to the city last week.
Phase one of the project is a meeting that will establish lines of communication, identify stakeholders and establish a regular meeting schedule, according to the development proposal.
From there, a review of the proposed construction site will be completed under the second phase of design, including a complete site survey as well as wetlands and archeological assessments.
After the surveys are complete, a meeting will be held to discuss findings and review initial plans, which are expected to be 30% completed by this point, according to the proposal.
The fourth and final phase would include a series of design meetings when the facility is 65% and 95% designed, securing necessary permits and providing a final cost estimate.
“Following the completion of Task 3, Saratoga Associates and Aquattica team will review the stakeholder feedback with the city and identify design elements to be refined. We will ensure that the final design incorporates ideas and feedback from the City, public, and any other stakeholders,” the proposed development plan reads.
Construction on a final design is expected to begin sometime in the fall, according to the plans.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.