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Look Ahead, Pittsfield

Applications open soon for Pittsfield's ARPA money, starting a new chapter in city's relationship with the program

Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer delivers her state of the city address (copy)

Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer is set to open applications for about $13 million in unallocated American Rescue Plan money on Monday. During her State of the City address earlier this month the mayor called the federal coronavirus relief program one of last year's blessings.

PITTSFIELD — Mayor Linda Tyer is set to start a new chapter in the city’s use of federal coronavirus relief money as she invites community organizations to submit their applications for almost $13 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The media alert for the event, scheduled for Monday morning, is simple: “Mayor Linda Tyer to deliver an announcement on the City of Pittsfield’s Invitation for Proposals for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.” But the application process is a bit more momentous.

For the last six months, the city has been in gathering information as it comes to the ARPA money, with public input occurring in a community survey, four public forums, the creation of the mayor’s advisory council and in stakeholder sessions late last month.

Now community organizations and the general public will have the opportunity to take a more active role in the process by submitting their ideas and requests for how the federal money will be used over the next few years.

Tyer made an appearance on Commonwealth Magazine’s the Codcast last week and told host Bruce Mohl that the city will have a kind of two-pronged approach to applications.

Prayer might be answered after temporary Pittsfield homeless shelter closes (copy) (copy)

Mayor Linda Tyer said in a recent podcast appearance that funding housing projects like shelter beds at First United Methodist Church on Fenn Street remains one of the greatest priorities for the city's use of ARPA money.

One will be the application available in the invitation to apply for project proposals that focus on either childhood development and youth intervention; mental health and substance use disorders; disabled, elderly and veteran services; community-based initiatives or cultural organizations.

The other application type is a concept application. Tyer said on the Codcast podcast that this application will be for “if there is somebody in the community who isn’t sure and doesn’t have a fully baked idea they can submit a concept application and our goal is to see how can we create collaboration.”

City officials have already announced how they plan to spend at least $7.35 million of the first ARPA installment of $20.3 million at the their disposal. The applications being discussed Monday will help an evaluation committee decide how to spend the remaining $12.95 million from the first disbursement of federal money.

The application process comes at an interesting point in the course of the ARPA program. On Jan. 31, Pittsfield will be required to submit a quarterly project and expenditure report to the Treasury Department.

In this report, the city will be required to document any ARPA money it spent between March 3 and December 31 of last year, a list and description of the projects the money was used on, the project status and the demographic data for the people served by the project. This report promises to be the most detailed look at how and where Pittsfield ARPA’s money is going in the first months of the federal program.

Heads-upThe agenda for Tuesday’s City Council meeting is rather short, filled mostly with requests for the council to accept grant money to the city’s public safety departments. But one agenda item may peak residents’ interests.

Airport (copy)

The Pittsfield Municipal Airport is asking the City Council to use $162,400 in free cash to cover the cost of removing several tree deemed safety hazards by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Free cash and its sustainable use was a major point of discussion in November as the City Council set the property tax rate. Now free cash is back on a city council agenda, this time as part of a request from the Pittsfield Municipal Airport.

Airport officials are asking the council to approve the use $162,400 from the city’s free cash to remove trees around the airport that the Federal Aviation Administration has deemed as safety hazards for planes in approach to the runways.

In a letter to the council about the request, airport manager Dan Shearer said that the airport will be pursuing a reimbursement for the cost of the work from an FAA grant, but the city will have to foot the bill first.

Meg Britton-Mehlisch can be reached at mbritton@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6149.

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