Remaining FY23 ARPA projects approved

Aug 8, 2022

Improvements to Dartmouth’s sewer infrastructure and recreational facilities will be coming in the near future.

At its Aug. 8 meeting, the Select Board voted to approve further funding requests from its American Rescue Plan funds for fiscal year 2023.

Some items were approved at its July 25 meeting, but board members wanted to hear from the other town department about their wants.

Among the list of approvals is $1,047,500 for a number of improvements for the Department of Public Works, including new emergency generators, bio filters, and belt filter presses used for water treatment.

“Some of the units are old and in disrepair,” Interim Director of Public Works Tim Barber said.

Select Board member Shawn McDonald called the department’s requests a no-brainer.

“We need to bring the equipment at least into the 20th century,” he said.

The board also voted to appropriate more than $2 million toward updating some of the town’s recreational facilities, most notably $460,000 to renovate the Dartmouth Regional Park on Old Fall River Road.

According to Parks and Recreation Director Tim Lancaster, the lone park in the north end of town is in desperate need of upgrading. 

“It’s the park that’s furthest behind in renovation,” he said. “It’s 20 years old now.”

Improvements the park will now see thanks to the ARPA funding include updated fences, replacement basketball hoops and re-striped courts for tennis and pickleball.

“Once it’s done… the pickleball group will want to use that as one of their main spaces,” Lancaster said.

The largest expense from the appropriation will be toward the design and engineering costs of a proposed community center, which is expected to cost $1,192,000.

Along with providing year-round activities, Town Administrator Shawn MacInnes said the space could be used as an emergency shelter or a space to hold Town Meeting.

Select Board Chair David Tatelbaum said while he supports the need for a community center, he was worried about the price tag of the facility, which is currently estimated at $14 million for construction.”

“It’s so much more expensive than we anticipated and it’s not very fancy either,” he said. “We’re going to potentially release $1 million and we have not really tossed around the idea where this money is going to come from.”

Joe Vieira, the vice chair of the Board of Parks and Recreation and the town’s emergency management director, said while he understands the concerns, he pointed out that the town has always found a way to fund these larger projects.

“I remember when we wanted to build the new high school, we built [that],” he said.

Another concern Tatelbaum expressed was whether the construction cost will remain at $14 million or if it will rise.

Vice Chair Stanley Mickelson said it's the uncertainty that makes it so important that the project go ahead.

“It’s imperative on our part to get it moving sooner rather than later,” he said. “At some point, if we wait too long, we will not be able to afford to do that.”

Ultimately, the Select Board unanimously voted to proceed with the project, along with the other recreation requests.

After those approvals, McDonald suggested appropriating an additional $450,000 to assist the Dartmouth Housing Authority in its quest to begin work on the ​​Mendes-Monteiro housing project on Anderson Way, which would contain 10 units for elderly residents with mental disabilities.

“I’d like to give them at least a head start,” he said.

The Select Board opted to discuss this issue in further detail at a future meeting.