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Nashua advances plan to spend COVID-19 stimulus money

Gaby Lozada

As N.H. towns and cities are still figuring out how to spend funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, Nashua presented a proposal for several projects accounting for 90% of the city's federal aid dollars.

The city of Nashua received $16 million as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, much of it set aside for a year as city departments figured out what to do with it. Then, this Tuesday, several proposals were presented at a Human Affairs Committee meeting.

Under the plan, $10 million – the majority of the aid – would go into a housing trust fund. Officials did not disclose details in the meeting, but Matthew Sullivan, Nashua’s community development director, said it would not exclusively go toward affordable housing.

“We did not narrow the title of the fund to affordable, recognizing there might be scenarios that ask for those funds that are not necessarily about the creation of affordable units itself,” Sullivan said.

Additional funds would be spent on a disaster recovery site at an alternate location. According to Nick Miseirvitch, deputy director of information technology for the city, the idea is to build a second data center outside City Hall that will “create resilience in case of an environmental or cybersecurity event,” referring to challenges they faced during the pandemic.

There is also a proposal for alerting equipment for the fire department. Steve Buxton, chief of Nashua Fire Department, said the volume of incident calls to the department has increased dramatically over the past 12 years. The result of this is an increased workload on not only the dispatchers who process the calls but, according to a city memo, "an unfathomable increase in radio traffic as well."

To address this, the new equipment would fully automate the alerting process.

“This system will reduce stress on dispatchers as well as responders,” Buxton said.

Nashua officials plan to remodel Library Park Plaza as well. The renovations would include bicycle infrastructure, outdoor classrooms, reading rooms and an outdoor performance amphitheater.

Gabriela Lozada is a Report for America corps member. Her focus is on Latinx community with original reporting done in Spanish for ¿Qué hay de Nuevo NH?.
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