CHARLESTOWN — Members of the Town Council have approved use of American Rescue Plan Act funding for the construction and furnishing of a pavilion at the Charlestown Senior Community Center in Ninigret Park and the purchase of rescue equipment for local firefighters.
The measures, which were part of $285,980 in allocations approved by the Charlestown Town Council last week, were part of three requests approved as the town continues to determine the best way to use the remaining ARPA funds. Town Council President Deborah Carney said that as a result of the approved requests, the town has approximately $435,000 in remaining ARPA funds still to allocate.
Michelle Vekakis, director of the Charlestown Senior Center, said the construction of a pavilion will provide local seniors with a valuable and necessary outdoor space to better accommodate activities and needs.
“The only outdoor space we currently have is a gazebo that was generously donated by a local family years ago, and that only seats about 10 people,” Vekakis told members of the council. “When the pandemic began, we found that there were many groups competing for that space, and oftentimes, it was not available to use for our program.”
The proposal presented to members of the Town Council calls for funds to be used for the purchase, installation and furnishing of a 24-foot by 64-foot pavilion with several square picnic tables that would provide seating, including five ADA wheelchair-accessible spots. The grant approved is based on a quoted price, $231,280, but the town will still need to complete a formal bid process.
“It would allow the community to enjoy more time outside as well, as we would offer it at times we wouldn’t be using it,” Vekakis said.
Members of the council also approved a request on behalf of Parks and Recreation to allocate an additional $3,907 for electrical installation at the community center pavilion. The funding does not include lighting, but will finally allow for use of radio equipment and storage of medicines during summer camps, as well as other community uses, officials said.
Council members also unanimously approved $50,800 in ARPA funding for the purchase of several pieces of rescue equipment for the Dunn’s Corners Fire Department. The agency and Chief Keith Kenyon came forward in July to request the funding, but were initially told to come back once the town had received its money from the state.
The purchases approved include $15,800 for a Lucas 3 device, which provides high-quality chest compressions for patients in cardiac arrest; $10,000 for the purchase two handheld side-scan sonar devices; $15,000 for Humvee body upgrades to improve off-road response; and $10,000 for the purchase of 25 new firefighter pagers to enhance response times.
“We had not received all the funding just yet when this was first discussed, and we stated that we would revisit it once that money was received. To date, the town has now received all the funding we had been promised,” Carney said. “$50,800 for security and safety is certainly a worthwhile cause.”