New Milford seeks to distribute second round of rescue funds

NEW MILFORD – While some cities are still trying to figure out how to spend their American Rescue Plan Act federal relief funds, New Milford is launching a second round of spending.

City council is looking to allocate an additional $ 1.6 million of its $ 7.9 million in federal aid through 21 different positions. The most significant requests involved capital goods for the local fire and police departments, as well as improvements to the city’s IT infrastructure.

New Milford has already approved about $ 3 million in ARPA spending this month, and city council just gave the green light for a second tranche of spending in a regular meeting Monday night. The request now goes to the finance board and, if approved there, to a final city vote. At this point, New Milford will have around $ 3.3 million left in their ARPA vault.

Brookfield, Redding, and Danbury have yet to start allocating their money, but New Milford has started breaking the process down into manageable chunks, approving one item list at a time.

The second round of allowances contains everything from police planning software and underwater sonar equipment to an expensive $ 410,000 training facility for firefighters to practice rescues.

“Speaking with Chief (of Police) Cerruto, the way they manage their schedule is actually just on the clipboards,” said Mayor Pete Bass, adding that this way of doing things takes a long time. An updated electronic system would allow sergeants to spend less time with clipboard schedules and more time in the community, he said.

Other important items for first responders included a $ 42,700 rescue boat to help firefighters carry out rescues on the Housatonic River, which Bass said was badly needed. Last summer, two fishermen accidentally drowned by Bleachery Dam. A month later, a swimmer drowned in the Housatonic River.

“What’s great is that we can continue to provide some really needed resources, especially to our first responders, and really help them help us as a community,” Bass said. “And that’s really what these funds are for.”

An additional $ 292,400 is requested to update the city’s IT infrastructure, including wireless access points, new firewalls, virtual private network coverage, outsourced technical assistance, and management of mobile devices.

“These are your moats around your castle. It’s your outside defense, ”CIO David Watson said of a new investment in the firewall. “It’s hard to underestimate how important this can be. “

Watson also explained that VPN upgrades are necessary to keep the city operating remotely, especially when pandemics or snowstorms keep staff at home. These virtual private networks allow staff to work securely over a protected network connection.

Improving the wireless infrastructure in city buildings was another part of the cost.

“One of our offices used to be a prison cell. Service there can be taxing, ”Watson joked. “It really wasn’t designed for wireless in this area.”

Council members discussed using relief funds for a new barn roof at Sullivan Farm – estimated at around $ 63,400 – and funding two new positions on the farm that could keep the farm up and running. Each position would be paid approximately $ 40,000 per year for two years.

The barn was built in 1868 and its roof was last replaced in the 1960s, according to Mark Mankin, who runs the Sullivan farm.

“We have buckets all over the barn at this point, and the problem is that with moisture coming in, it will eventually affect the frame,” Mankin said.

The barn holds more than just sentimental and historical value. Last summer, she donated over a ton of fresh produce to the local food bank. Mankin told board members that with the two new farm management positions, “we can double or even triple that.”

But there is also fun and games involved in this round of fundraising.

Council approved a recommendation to allocate nearly $ 34,000 for an outdoor cinema and a disc golf course that would be linked to the Parks and Recreation Department.

Bass told other council members that disc golf is a great outdoor pandemic activity that can be enjoyed by individuals or groups. If approved, a course would likely be stationed in Clatter Valley.

The idea for the outdoor cinema was inspired by the excitement generated by the free family movie events at John Pettibone during the pandemic, according to Bass.

“It allows us to be stronger than we were going in COVID,” Bass said of council-approved campaign materials.

A total list of items was placed on the agenda for the board meeting:

New Milford Police Department Planning Software – $ 30,375

New Milford Fire Department Building Burned – $ 410,525

14 sets of response equipment (Northville Fire Department) – $ 51,000

18 portable radios (Northville Fire Department) – $ 21,500

Seven mobile radios (Northville Fire Department) – $ 8,200

Replacement nozzle (Northville Fire Department) – $ 9,400

Fire Equipment Dryer (Northville Fire Department) – $ 7,489

Mobile Fire Equipment Storage Rack (Northville Fire Department) – $ 7,125

Maxiforce Airbag System (Water Witch Fire Department) – $ 7,472

Equipped Rescue Boat (Water Witch Fire Department) – $ 42,719

Underwater Sonar Equipment (Water Witch Fire Department) – $ 4,571

PPE (Water Witch Fire Department) drying cabinet – $ 7,622

23 Global Radio Stations (Gaylordsville Fire Department) – $ 190,000

Lucas Device (Gaylordsville Fire Department) – $ 14,000

Three AEDs (Gaylordsville Fire Department) – $ 5,385

IT infrastructure – $ 292,423

Sullivan Farm barn roof replacement possible – $ 63,400

Sullivan Farm Team Supervisor and Assistant Farm Manager positions (two-year positions) – $ 160,000

Disc golf course (parks and recreation) – $ 9,880

Outdoor cinema (Parks and recreation) – $ 23,945

Primary equity loans – $ 200,000

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