Hudson considers possible uses for ARPA money

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Hudson town iconHUDSON – Hudson’s priorities for spending nearly $6 million allocated by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) include a bridge replacement, a wastewater treatment upgrade and support for two public health hires.

Discussions are ongoing, though, and the public will have an opportunity to provide input on ARPA decisions, Executive Assistant Thomas Gregory told the Select Board at its Nov. 1 meeting.

“We’re really at the preliminary stages of this multi-year funding process,” Gregory said. “There’s quite a bit of time to engage with the public.”

The U.S. Treasury Department has distributed a list of eligible uses in the months since APRA was passed. Hudson and other communities have until Dec 31, 2024, to commit the funds for specific uses and another two years to spend them. 

Half of the total expected allotment of about $5.9 million has been wired to Hudson by the Treasury Department. 

Gregory has had preliminary discussions with Town department heads and has a list of priorities.

First on that list is a culvert and bridge replacement at the intersection of Main and Houghton Streets costing a total of $1.4 million. 

“Massachusetts [Department of Transportation] has been sharing its concerns with the town for some years,” Gregory said of that project in comments to the Community Advocate. “If there weren’t these dollars, that project would likely be deferred until another year.”

The Select Board approved an engineering and construction oversight contract for that project back in September. 

Questions lingered at that time, though, in terms of how the rest of the project would be paid for. This ARPA allocation could pay that cost while also covering the initial cost of that engineering and construction oversight contract.

A second priority use is funding part of Hudson’s expected multimillion-dollar wastewater treatment upgrade, currently in phase two of its execution. 

Increases in costs have driven the expected price tag up by about an additional $1 million.

“Had these funds not been available, I’m not sure what we’d do,” Gregory said of the wastewater upgrade price increase. 

ARPA funds could also be used for office expansion to house additional public health workers that the Health Department plans to hire. If ARPA funds were not available, those positions would not be funded, according to Gregory. 

Gregory said he plans to organize public listening sessions on other potential uses for the funds over the “next several months.” 

But public interest was already piqued at the Nov. 1 Select Board meeting. 

Tina Growowsky, who is involved in Elders Climate Action, urged the Select Board to enact a public process for generating uses for ARPA funds and to consider electric municipal vehicle replacements.

“We need to look at the possible use of some of these funds to start looking at green energy here in Hudson,” Growowsky said. 

Gregory has also conducted some preliminary meetings with the Hudson Business Improvement District. 

Hudson will have to submit all its proposals to the Treasury Department, an unusually direct line to Washington in the world of municipal grants, which are usually funnelled through state agencies. It is not currently clear when the Treasury Department will wire the second half of the expected funds, but Hudson can still plan for their use, Gregory said.

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