New Scotland to hold workshop on ARPA funds

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

The town of New Scotland has allocated about half of its coronavirus federal relief funds to buy new playground equipment for Swift Road and Feura Bush parks. At its upcoming May meeting, the town board will hold a workshop on how to spend the remaining funds. 


NEW SCOTLAND — The New Scotland Town Board at its next monthly meeting plans to hold a workshop on how it should allocate its remaining coronavirus federal relief funds. 

The town has about a third of its American Rescue Plan Act funding left,  a little over $600,000, and plans to discuss how to spend it on May 10, at 6:15 p.m.

Councilwoman Bridgit Burke has been advocating for public input on the spending for some time.

“I had suggested in the past that we have a public hearing to discuss how we’re going to spend the funding that came in as a result of COVID … I think that giving the various departments in the town — but also the community — an opportunity to weigh in on the kinds of projects that they’d like to see us undertake, particularly since this is a one-time funding, would be a good idea,” Burke said during the board’s April 12 meeting. 

Burke began beating the drum on the funds in December, when the town board allocated half of its ARPA funding for new playground equipment and code codification services.

Burke was in favor of the December allocations but felt that residents should have more to say with how the town’s federal dollars are spent.

“I’m fully in support of this; I think that it’s very important that we be as transparent as possible to the public and for them to have easy access to the rules that have been established,” Burke said in December. She went on to mention how other towns “allow the community to come in and make suggestions about how they thought the funds should be used. And I think that this is very worthy … I would like to hear from the community as well.”

So far, New Scotland has allocated $324,000 for new playground equipment at Swift Road and Feura Bush parks; about $23,000 to streamline the town’s general code; and $52,500 to help pay for infrastructure upgrades to the Hilton Barn. 



Also on April 12, Burke suggested the town take a look at its housing stock. 

“As everyone knows, the state is in the middle of their budget process. And one of the things that’s being discussed in the budget process is programs that would really require 1-percent growth in town building stock over a three-year period,” Burke said. “And if the town failed to reach that, the state could take over approval of certain projects. This is after previous suggestions that towns require to allow small housing in addition to regular residential housing.”

She continued, “And I think that we want to get out ahead of this, whether this becomes a part of the budget or not … And so, I would suggest that we ask the building department to look at what our current growth rate is. And we perhaps ask [Town Planner] Nan [Stolzenburg] to look at, if we wanted to try to achieve 1-percent [growth] in a three-year period, what would the pros and the cons be to any changes we’d have to make?”

Burke said she wasn’t “suggesting any action right now. I’m just suggesting that we look at this seriously to see what impact it would have on the town of New Scotland.” 

According to the latest Census estimate, from 2021, there were close to 3,800 housing units in New Scotland, 84 percent of which were detached single-family homes. In 2018, the town had a little over 3,600 units, according to the Census data. Between 2018 and 2021, the town saw a 4.8-percent increase in its housing stock. 

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