Williamston spending ARPA funds on infrastructure

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During a worksession held Mar. 29, Williamston Mayor Rockey Burgess updated Town Council on several items including ARPA funding, Gossett Drive and nuisance abatement.
Burgess said the town will receive $2.1 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
The funding is Williamston’s share of the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill (ARPA) passed by congress in 2021. The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund in ARPA provides $350 billion for states, municipalities, counties, tribes, and territories, including $130.2 billion for local governments split evenly between municipalities and counties.
Burgess said the town will receive half of the funds from the program this and the rest next year. The town has committed $300,000 from the funding to purchase 300,000 gallons of sewer capacity from Anderson County and $100,000 for equipment. Burgess said $500,000 could be used for Phase 1 of Waste Water Treatment Plan (WWTP) improvements including new sewer lines from Brock Lane to the WWTP.
Phase 2 sewer project will be about $600,000 which the town could be responsible for, but may only have to pay for the required match on the project, the mayor said.
If the town only has to match a portion of the cost, there will be approximately $305,500 left which could replenish reserves use for recent roof replacement at the Municipal Center or for the Pickellball courts the town is planning to install.
Burgess said he recommends using the ARPA funds for water and sewer line replacement. The town has four years to use the funds, he said.
Burgess said repair work is ongoing at the WWTP including work on a Digester and Aerator. (A digester is a closed tank, where there’s no oxygen, in which Micro-organisms break down organic material) (Aeration is an activated sludge process, promoting microbial growth in wastewater. The microbes feed on organic material, which easily settle out).
The mayor said that a crane is needed to bring in supports for the Digester. Unfortunately, a mishap resulted in an aerater being dropped into the sewer lagoon. The equipment, which weighs several thousand pounds and is valued at $10,000, will be recovered by Clearwater, the environmental engineering company doing the work, he said.
Burgess said work by Hunter Quinn Houses on the Brock Lane subdivision should begin in the next thirty days.
Work is also expected to begin soon on resurfacing for the Pickleball courts and basketball courts in the next 30 days.
The mayor said a request to hold music festival with vendors will be on the agenda for the town council meeting Monday.
There will also be recognition of police officer Tina Eichelberger and presentation of the Main Street Challenge award by Envision Williamston. The new Raines of Williamston restaurant is the recipient.
Council will also decide on a planning commission recommendation to rezone property on Market Street to allow to larger lot sizes for new homes.
The town will begin working on budget priorities with a meeting to be planned the second week of April.
Mayor Burgess said the town recently met with SCDOT officials about Gossett Drive. He said SCDOT will address erosion problems resulting from storm drainage near the railroad trestle. the erosion is affecting sidewalks in the area.
He said that Gossett Drive is currently a state road and the best option would be for the town to receive the road. Burgess said accepting the roadway would mean that the town would become responsible for all necessary current and future repairs of the roadway but would also allow flexibility for the town to work with the railroad to create a reasonable solution to the frequent bridge strikes.
Burgess said the town council will be considering a resolution that will offer support for acceptance of the roadway, contingent upon repairs by SCDOT to remedy the stormwater issues.
“Unfortunately, the process could take up to one year,” he said.
The town is also replacing a guardrail that was damaged by a wreck on Anderson Street near Broad Street last Saturday. The drivers insurance will be billed for the repairs.
The town is planning to hold the Freedom Celebration on July 2 and there will a Spring Fling Fair on the Town Square Center property soon, the mayor announced.
There was also discussion about grass cutting, nuisance abatement and cemetery care.