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Borough Of Newtown Discusses American Relief Plan Act Funds



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The Borough of Newtown Board of Burgesses at its May 14 meeting discussed a number of potential appropriations from the borough’s remaining American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds.

The potential appropriations included sidewalk streetlights for Church Hill Village, security cameras for St Rose of Lima School, the purchasing of Deep Brook Farm with the Newtown Forest Association, replacement of the sign for Ram Pasture, and the reassignment of ARPA funds for Edmond Town Hall.

The Borough has about $143,000 left in ARP funds. ARPA funds were provided to municipalities during the COVID-19 pandemic to help provide PPE for citizens and make improvements to the town’s infrastructure.

Doug Nelson, chairman of the Borough Zoning Commission, presented to the board a map of Church Hill Village detailing where sidewalks and streetlights needed to be implemented or replaced. The Borough has slowly installed sidewalks and streetlamps over many years to improve walkability and maintain the historic charm the Borough works so hard to upkeep.

Burgess Jim Gaston opposed the project saying, “I have a real issue with using borough taxpayer money to enhance commercial development, and particularly wealthy developers.”

After much discussion, the burgesses decided to table the topic of new sidewalks and streetlights for the village.

The board then moved to discuss the requests from St Rose of Lima School’s principal, Dr Gjoka. The school requested ARPA funds for a new playground and upgrades to their camera security. The board denied funds for the playground, citing it wasn’t open to the public, and made a motion to award $25,000 for new security cameras. The board was about to approve the request but decided to listen to the other requests before making any motions. When they circled back to the topic, the motion passed.

Newtown Forest Association approached the Borough with requests to help purchase Deep Brook Farm to preserve the land for the Borough and the town of Newtown. The burgesses discussed the topic with Burgess Jim Gaston and John Madzula supporting the idea, but the majority of burgesses in attendance were opposed.

Chris Gardner, senior burgess, said, “Like I’ve said before, I’m opposed to appropriating borough money for the property only because it’s outside of borough limits. I’m a huge supporter of open space preservation in general, but I can’t get past the fact that this is outside of the Borough.”

Greg Smith of the Newtown Village Cemetery Association also approached the board last night asking for ARPA funds to replace the sign outside of Ram Pasture at the intersection of Route 25 and 302, as well as creating and installing a new, smaller sign on the other side at the intersection of Hawley Rd and Elm Drive.

Warden Jay Maher said the sign is “tired.”

Smith presented a quote for the replacement sign, as well as the creation of the new sign. The board decided they would award the money to the association once they had accurate quotes for both signs, the post for the new sign, and installation of both.

The last topic of discussion for the ARPA funds at the meeting was the reassignment of funds for Edmond Town Hall. Edmond Town Hall previously approached the board asking for $13,500 to upgrade their camera security and $34,000 for internet service upgrades.

“They had secured other funding to complete these line items,” Maher said, “they’d like to change this $47,500 grant of ARP funds to the replacement of [exterior] doors on Edmond Town Hall itself.”

Newtown granted Edmond Town Hall $81,000 for the “Edmond Town Hall Exterior Door Project” that is estimated to cost $134,000 in total. The replacement of these doors does not include the front doors.

In other Borough of Newtown news, the board passed a motion to initiate the Sugar Street Sidewalk Project. Over the years, the Borough has worked hard to improve the community of the Borough, which included installing sidewalks across the municipality. One area that does not have sidewalks yet is Sugar Street.

“I’m very excited to say that we’re at the end of the line on the sidewalks, and we were able to secure that project at $138,500, plus police, which is under budget,” Warden Jay Maher stated.

They put the motion to vote, and it passed unopposed. There was no mention at the meeting of when the project will start, or how long it will take to complete.

Reporter Sam Cross can be reached at sam@thebee.com.

From left: Paula Brinkman, treasurer; Ann Scaia, clerk; Jay Maher, warden; Maureen Crick Owen, burgess; Sarah Phillips, burgess; Chris Gardner, senior burgess; Jim Gaston, burgess; John Madzula, burgess.
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1 comment
  1. tomj says:

    Let’s be honest, The ARPA funds were not “provided to municipalities during the COVID-19 pandemic to help provide PPE for citizens and make improvements to the town’s infrastructure.” It was a Stimulus Package to speed up the country’s recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession.

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