PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Federal funding will soon be put towards renovations and improvements to Petersburg’s infrastructure after the city council decided how to spend nearly $9 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) aid.

Petersburg received $20.9 million in ARPA grants that will be split into two installments. The first installment of $10.4 million was discussed at this week’s city council meeting where it was decided to use the funds for projects based on urgency and need, as assessed by city leadership.

From the first allocation, the city has plans for roughly $9.8 million and $700,000 remains for projects yet to be determined.

Petersburg City Manager Stuart Turille said the federal funding is a “Once-in-a-lifetime golden opportunity to improve the well-being of the community and spread the wealth.”

Turille explained the guidelines to determine what projects took top priority for the grant. The federal guidelines in place regarding the ARPA funding are specific about what you can and cannot spend the money on. There are four categories in place to consider:

  • People who are hurt by COVID, household businesses, nonprofits, the hospitality industry, tourism and travel
  • Infrastructure, sewer and broadband
  • Essential workers who are engaged in hazardous activities on the frontline of dealing with the public
  • Provision of government services for the extent of where there was a reduction of city revenues

The city received 106 applications from the public who were looking for recovery funding due to the pandemic.

City leadership met to develop criteria to rank the proposed projects based on the federal guidelines. Petersburg’s community needs and benefits were prioritized based on projects that extended beyond the immediate future and will be long-lasting.

The biggest standout from the total funding is the use of $3.4 million to renovate the old Social Services building and relocate the Petersburg Police Department and Fire Department within that structure.

“The police building is aging out. It has mildew and the A/C doesn’t work well,” Turille said. “Moving them out is urgent and these things can’t wait.”

Another topic of high interest to Petersburg residents is the use of around $2.1 million to improve the city’s storm drainage system. These projects are listed as “shovel-ready,” meaning the plans are in advanced stages and could be ready for construction when the funding is available.

Residents experience 'knee-deep' water in Petersburg from flash flooding |  8News
Photo of Petersburg flooding in 2020. (Photo: WRIC)

The city’s Parks and Recreation should also receive $250,000 for beautification and rehabilitation.

About another $1.4 million could be spent on transforming the South Side Depot into a new visitor’s center with a clear focus on increasing tourism. The Hotel Petersburg is also set to be renovated.

Other additions included $90K for police radios, $226K for fire radios and $263K for EMS and fire life-saving equipment.

The only item on the agenda that was tabled was the $975,000 in funding planned for hazardous duty organizational pay. That will be discussed in a near-future council meeting.

The city is expected to receive the second installment of ARPA funding in June 2022.

Here is a breakdown of the full list of projects planned by Petersburg City Council using the first installment of ARPA funding:

  • Community COVID recovery funding reserve: $520,000
  • Parks & Recreation rehabilitation: $250,000
  • Petersburg Library Foundation learning center: $269,000
  • Storm drainage projects: $2,104,000
  • Wilcox Lake dam repairs: $90,000
  • Farmer Street Building rehabiliation: $1,271,352
  • Southside Depot restoration: $1,364,035
  • Downtown master plan: $100,000
  • Economic Development Authority (EDA) revolving loan: $2,250,000
  • Police Radios: $98,551
  • EMS and Fire life-saving equipment: $262,848
  • EMS and Fire radios: $226,134
  • Total: $8,805,920
Rendering from Petersburg City Council meeting
Rendering from Petersburg City Council meeting