ARPA funds
Attorney Todd McKinnis speaks before the Edmond City Council on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. (Joe Tomlinson)

During an Edmond City Council workshop on Monday, council members discussed how to use the $12,741,315 the city was allocated by the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

Of that amount, approximately $216,800 has been spent on a number of services so far:

  • $87,500 for a city-wide mental health assessment plan conducted by Healthy Minds — $175,000 allocated total;
  • $48,936.87 to Visit Edmond to speed recovery of industries impacted by COVID-19, such as tourism, travel and hospitality — $250,000 allocated total;
  • $68,156.53 for wayfinding signage around Edmond — $100,000 allocated total. Additionally, $750,000 has been allocated for implementation of the signage.
  • $12,226 to respond to COVID-19-related needs that may arise over the next five years, with $50,000 allocated total. To this point, the funding spent thus far has only been used for COVID-19 testing of city staff.

Owing to rules governing ARPA spending, funds can be used for five broad categories: supporting public health expenditures, addressing negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, replacing lost public sector revenue, providing premium pay for essential workers, and developing water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

The funds need to be encumbered for a specific use or service by Dec. 31, 2024, then spent by Dec. 31, 2026.

Where should American Rescue Plan funding go?

The City Council also held its regular meeting Monday night, at which members voted to allocate $1 million in ARPA money to NorthCare, the state-designated community mental health center in Edmond. The funds will be used to renovate a building that NorthCare officials have already purchased.

“Our ARPA funds and CARES funds are not for services or clinicians or things like that but going towards the actual renovation of the building,” Ward 3 City Council member Christin Mugg said.

Additionally, $46,200 is being used to replace defibrillators in city buildings and vehicles.

Some of the ideas that have been proposed for the use of ARPA funds include:

  • $1 million for implementation of the City of Edmond’s housing needs assessment;
  • $1 million to upgrade the eight parks within Edmond’s qualified census tract;
  • $2 million to improve pedestrian safety downtown;
  • $1 million for water line replacements in the downtown area;
  • $1.5 million for trail resurfacing in Mitch Park;
  • $500,000 for trash receptacles and maintenance needs at Arcadia Lake.

Ward 2 City Council Member Josh Moore wants to see some of the ARPA funds go toward retention of City of Edmond employees and literacy programs for EPS students.

“The biggest impact you can have is that early childhood literacy,” City Manager Scot Rigby said. “We’d be happy to have that discussion with either the school district and or the library system.”

Rigby said the city has identified areas of focus for ARPA funds, but the discussion surrounding the money is still ongoing.

“As we learn more we may be able to come back and shift and say, ‘We may not need as much in this area’ or ‘We’ve had great conversations with this, we’d like to shift money into that,'” Rigby said.

Edmond Center Court to host pro tennis tournament

Edmond Center Court will be hosting an indoor United States Tennis Association tournament from Jan. 23-29, 2023. Last night, the council approved $20,000 to support the event.

USTA approached Edmond Center Court to host the event.

“A lot of facilities are bidding on these tournaments and they don’t get the bid,” David Minihan, director of tennis at Edmond Center Court, said. “For us to be asked is definitely an honor.”

The tournament will attract professional tennis players from around the world.

“These will be some of the best players in the world, without question,” Minihan said. “A lot of these players and professionals are young players trying to make it on tour. They’re trying to get their ranking points to get high enough in the world rankings to get into the U.S. Opens and the Wimbledons.”

Ward 1 City Council member David Chapman expressed concern regarding the lack of seating at Edmond Center Court, which could pose problems for hosting an indoor tournament. The facility has a mezzanine where spectators can watch tennis matches, but there is no seating.

Jennifer Seaton, director of Visit Edmond, said seating will be brought in for the event.

“This is our first year and we’re hopefully going to do this every year, so we’ll keep improving,” Seaton said. “But we need to analyze that, and most likely bring in some more seating and work with USTA to really understand how many people might be coming.”

City Council also approved $10,000 to support Edmond Cycle 66, an event where cyclists ride along Route 66. The event included 10-, 33- and 66-mile rides. This year, a one-mile ride for kids will be added, as well as a cyclo-cross, a competitive race in which cyclists will circle around a one-mile route repeatedly.

The event had 550 participants last year and the city expects 850 this year.

“We feel some good momentum that we’re moving toward this becoming Edmond’s Tulsa Tough,” said Rep. Mike Osburn (R-Edmond), the founder of the event.