Fairfield approves projects for its $24.8M American Rescue Plan money

The Fairfield Police Department

The Fairfield Police Department

Tara O'Neill / Hearst Connecticut Media

FAIRFIELD — New sidewalks, police technology, improvements at the senior center and playground upgrades will all go forward thanks to the recent allocation under the American Rescue Plan.

Officials recently approved a list of projects as well as how the $24.8 million will be dispersed. The six main focus areas are mental health and social services; economic development; public safety; environment; quality of life; and town modernization and infrastructure. The biggest lump sum is going to the Fairfield Police Department in the amount of $3.7 million.

The selectmen and finance board approved the plan this week and the Representative Town Meeting will vote Monday.

“I am thankful for the funding so that the town can more quickly address some critical needs that, for the most part, had been previously planned but needed more funding in order to move forward,” Fairfield Selectmen Thomas Flynn said.

“The town has approximately $300 million in capital and infrastructure needs over the next decade or so and this funding will assist in alleviating some of the direct impact to local taxpayers,” he added.

Flynn said First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick and her administration came up with the initial listing based on the town’s capital plan, the new mandates that had come through from federal and state government, as well as projects that were defined as “shovel ready” by the funding’s requirements.

These plans were shared with the public in July and then vetted by several of the town’s boards. The town also sought residents’ input.

“I understand it was very important to the First Selectwoman that the funds be utilized in such a manner that all segments of our citizens would benefit and not just specific groups,” Flynn said.

Fairfield officials sought to enhance their public safety section by approving the Fairfield Police Department’s $3.7 million training and equipment bundle from Axon Technologies. The bundle includes hardware, software, accessories, training programs, customer support, equipment refreshes, body cameras, dashboard cameras and stun guns over a 10-year period.

The town has set aside a total of $700,000 to provide residents help in the focus of mental health and social services. A total of $250,000 will be used for the town’s COVID-19 Recovery Fund and $150,000 each will be given to Operation Hope, Lifebridge Community Services and The Child and Family Guidance Center.

More than a dozen other projects round out the list, including $500,000 to continue the fire house renovation, $700,000 for sidewalks, $25,000 for the Burr Historical Gardens, $963,000 for renovations and upgrades at playgrounds as well as $940,000 to replace the town fleet with electric and hybrid vehicles and add charging stations.

About $850,000 would go to Bigelow Center updates and another $100,000 for a deck or patio at the senior center.

The list also includes $450,000 for a stage and public restrooms at the Fairfield Museum, $1 million to fix the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the schools,$400,000 for hybrid meeting technology, $2.4 million for the town and schools’ fiber optic network, $1 million for traffic lights and $3 million for paving.

Flynn said in large part, most of the feedback that the town received from the public on the proposed projects was generally positive.

“The emails and comments that I have received have been supportive of individual projects,” Flynn said. “Not too many individuals have contacted me voicing concern with projects, though I am sure reasonable people can disagree with specific projects within such a list.”

Flynn said the funding for these projects are required to be dispersed within a defined timeline by 2024.

This story has been updated to reflect that several boards have to approve the funding plan before it can be implemented.