Council splits on ARPA grant approval; leery about federal funds going to private organization

Despite more than a month of discussion regarding grants as part of the American Recovery Plan Act, discussion continued in the Cameron City Council Chambers as the deadline nears. 

During Monday’s special Cameron City Council meeting, the council split 3-2 in finalizing the $1.6 million in ARPA grant proposals with multiple members of the council expressing hesitance in using funds originally tabbed to benefit the entire community through improvements to city hall instead of a few with $1.3 million in grants set aside for renovation to a three-building structure through the Old School of Cameron Historical Preservation Society.

“I don’t think we should be spending [$494,000] on something we don’t own. I just don’t,” Cameron Mayor Roy Estes said.

In 2021, Cameron officials condemned the Third Street buildings because of concerns with the structure’s foundation. Following an evaluation by architectural firm Bartlett & West, they determined the structural instabilities could be resolved through exterior improvements. During Monday’s meeting Cameron Utilities Director Zac Johnson said the total cost of the project would be $989,000 with an added 30 percent built into the project cost for contingencies. Other projects included in the ARPA grant proposal included improvements to the Cameron Community Center and creating sidewalks at Harris Street. 

“The whole point of it is, are you going to raise the buildings, take them to the ground and turn them into a parking lot or are you going to try and do something to salvage the situation, that hopefully turns into an anchor and revitalizes downtown?” Cameron City Councilman Dennis Clark said.


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