City hopes for funds from Obama stimulus

As President-elect Barack Obama’s national job stimulus package rolls forward, New Haven officials have no intention of getting left behind.

New Haven is requesting $106,100,000 in federal aid from the proposed stimulus package for 17 different reconstruction and repairs projects throughout the Elm City. Of the requested, $48,000,000 — the largest single portion — is designated for the demolition and reconstruction of the Davis Street School, whose renovation schedule was delayed because of budget concerns.

The projects are divided between four different categories: bridge and road repairs, economic development projects, parks projects, and public school renovations.

Though $101,500,000 will go toward projects listed under the Board of Education, City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said the list is meant to represent a wide cross-section of the city’s interests.

“There is a very diverse set of needs that the city has that we’d like to fulfill with this national opportunity,” Mayorga said.

In a Dec. 21 statement published in the Hartford Courant, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and three other Connecticut mayors listed the proposed $7 million road reconstruction of Quinnipiac Avenue as one of the most important projects necessitating funds from the stimulus project.

When choosing the projects that would be incorporated into the city’s proposal for the stimulus package, Mayorga said, the city favored projects that were shovel-ready, where design plans had already been approved and construction was ready to begin.

Chief Administrative Officer Robert Smuts ’01 said city officials do not expect to receive funding for all the projects, but they said they are optimistic that most of their funding needs will be met to initiate the projects. The funding the city ultimately receives will be largely dependent on the shape that the job stimulus package takes, and some of the city’s proposed projects may be more appropriate for the job stimulus package than others.

“We have a sense of priority for ourselves, but it’s not going to be one pot of money,” Smuts said. “Congress will most likely put different pots of money into different categories.”

Smuts maintained that regardless of the outcome of the stimulus package, all the projects listed on the city’s proposal for funding requests will eventually be completed, even if they are not funded by the stimulus package.

“This is a great opportunity because it’s a tremendous job generator tied with a tremendous need,” Smuts said. “Even though we’re confident that they will get funded at some point, we think it really makes sense that they get funded through the stimulus package.”

According to projections, the overall stimulus package represents $675 billion to $775 billion, 40 percent of which will be manifested in tax cuts.

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