CANNELTON – American Rescue Plan is looking to be very useful for the city of Cannelton.

The public was invited to offer thoughts and suggestions for the ARP Act, as the U.S. Department of the Treasury will soon send federal relief money to Cannelton.

A new fund, the ARP Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, was created by Cannelton Common Council to manage the ARP money.

City of Cannelton will receive about $310,000 in two segments, divided in two deposits of about $155,000. The first deposit will tentatively come June 2021, and the second will be determined later. Overall, the amount must be spent by December 2024.

The federal government gives several items and areas on which the city can choose to spend the money.

“We have a lot of discussions to have about what this can be used for,” said Cannelton Mayor Ralph Terry.

“This kind of conversation is essential,” said resident Patty Hoskins, who contributed ideas at the council meeting.

The public presented the council with several ideas, including:

• Infrastructure work with water and sewers.

• The money could bolster tourism by improving the riverfront

• Bringing arts to the area could boost tourism. A cultural center would bring people into the area and give people a place to display art.

• Things like storefronts with coffee shops to attract tourists.

• Non-profits and businesses might not need help from the ARP funds but instead the money could be used to put Cannelton back in fiscal security.

• Essential workers, such as trash collectors and other government workers who continued to work through the pandemic, could receive a small stipend as a thank you for their efforts.

• Sidewalks throughout the city need improvements.

• A children’s park, perhaps in place of the old Can Clay building, would create a community center.

• Dress up Washington Street with benches and re-pavement.

• Bringing in reliable cell phone service to the area.

• Broadband service would benefit the area.

• A citywide wifi hot spot could be considered as well, with the ARP funds starting the project and the city continuing it after the resources have been used.

• Building a shelter beside city hall could help students to stop by and use the wifi provided by the library and government building. The shelter could have outlets and allow students without internet access at home to work when the library is closed.

Mayor Ralph Terry gave his own suggestions and put some of the restrictions into perspective.

“The ARP money can be used for new infrastructure projects, such as storm water sewage improvements,” Terry said. “But it remains to be seen if the money can be used for projects that already have government grants assigned to them.

“No matter what we put on the list, it still has to be approved by the U.S. Treasury department,” Terry said. “I can’t just write you out a check for your wifi.”

In addition to ARP funds for the city of Cannelton, a $3.7 million relief fund is coming to Perry County. Terry has spoken with county commissioners and the county council president to go over county ARP expenditure criteria. Terry asked to place a Cannelton representative on that task force.

“Ways that we can spend it, that is the question,” Terry said.

Copyright 2022