The Fayetteville City Council on Monday is set to hear recommendations on how to use money from the American Rescue Plan Act and recommendations about revised weekly enforcement times and special event parking operations for downtown.
The council work session is scheduled for 5 p.m. at City Hall.
The city has been allocated a total of $40.4 million over two installments in American Rescue Plan Act funding. Half of that was available beginning in May 2021, and the balance will be delivered beginning next month, the city's website states.
“We set up committees initially in anticipation of the dollars. That process worked real well with the CARES Act,” Mayor Mitch Colvin said of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. “So when the funds came in, we already worked through some of the strategic conversations that the council has to prioritize funding.
“We had three committees, and they’re coming back Monday with recommendations on how to execute what came out of those discussions.”
At a November 2021 work session, the City Council gave a consensus for staff to focus on and bring back projects related to housing and community livability, business and economic vitality, and infrastructure and community reinvestment.
Committees were formed to concentrate on each of those areas.
“The things that they talked about were in those three buckets,” Colvin said Friday. “So I think the way we did it initially, we allocated $5 million per bucket to find things that we could do to help improve and rescue and restore. The other $25 million we haven’t talked about how to program that yet.”
Online, the city states that it may use the funds to:
Through a series of online meetings and paid surveys, the city received feedback from residents, businesses and community organizations on community needs. That feedback was provided to the city and county leaders as they strategize and plan the use of money provided to the city through the American Rescue Plan Act.
"We're still under a federal and local state emergency under COVID-19," City Manager Doug Hewett said. "The dollars are used to address those and other impacts highlighted during the height of COVID-19.’’
On the downtown parking program, Colvin said the council wanted to get things right.
”Certainly paid parking in downtown areas of cities is just something that we’re going to have to deal with because everyone else is doing it. Having the tax-paying public supplement that at a tune of a half-million dollars a year like they were doing is not really a good strategy," Colvin said. “So we made the parking a self-sufficient enterprise fund. If we need to adjust the hours that we do it to make it consistent and make it conducive for people to still come enjoy downtown to accomplish that goal. And I think that’s what council is willing to do.”
Originally, downtown paid parking was 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the longer hours based on any events being held, according to Colvin. “We’ve gotten our arms around what that process looks like. Cutting paid parking off at 5 o’clock makes a lot more sense to me.”
The proposals, he said, are coming back with paid parking from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We had a lot of time where employees were parking in some of the parking spots. Our study revealed a lot of those things that we weren’t familiar with,” the mayor said. “And we’re actually seeing an uptick in the use of the (parking) deck. The city built this deck several years ago, and it’s never really been used to its potential. And now it’s being used a lot more.”
Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.