Problem: how to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars

Published: Jan. 28, 2021 at 7:36 AM EST
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Ideas were flying Wednesday as Watertown city leaders tried to sort out how to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of pandemic relief funds.

“I would propose for-profit businesses that were effected by COVID,” Mayor Jeff Smith said.

It was a brainstorming session for Watertown city lawmakers Wednesday night to figure out how to spend money allocated to the city for coronavirus relief.

“DPAO, they’re another organization that I think sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to funding,” council member Sarah Compo said.

“I like the idea about the mobile food pantry,” council member Lisa Ruggiero said.

“I would advocate we identify some money for the zoo and pump up our gifts to the food pantries we identified,” council member Jesse Rochia said.

The city was allocated more than $820,000 in the form of a Community Development Block Grant from the federal CARES act.

About $100,000 already went to four Watertown food pantries, leaving more than $720,000 left to be used.

“I like the idea of the zoo, but I don’t know if we are going to be able to wiggle it into the guiding principles of this funding,” council member Ryan Henry-Wilkinson said.

That’s where city planners say problems arise. The city has already had to scratch previously proposed projects due to their lack of connection to COVID-19 response.

Other restrictions require that these projects benefit people with low to moderate incomes.

Whether that could extend to a restaurant or housing is up to the city to decide.

With no real timeline, for now, the brainstorming continues.

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