Greenville’s American Rescue Plan Act funding receives community backlash

Greenville’s American Rescue Plan Act fund allocation receives community backlash
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 8:08 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The city of Greenville has proposed a plan to spend the $24.7 million it is receiving from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act.

The largest portion of allocated funds sits at $22.6 million with the intended use of enhancing entertainment and recreation activities in the city.

This will include improvements to Guy Smith Stadium, the 2016 Town Common Master Plan, the expansion of Thomas Foreman Park, and a trail connection between Town Common and Wildwood.

Some in the community have taken to Facebook to share their opinions on the spending plan.

Pam Etheridge is a Greenville resident and moderator of the Greenville, NC/Pitt County Moms Facebook group.

Yesterday she shared the city’s post about its allocation plans and scheduled a Zoom session across a few platforms to get people talking.

“Our voices needed to be heard because it kind of felt like we were an afterthought, that a proposal was already made by the city,” said Etheridge.

In her opinion, these “pet projects” can wait and the funds would be better served directly supporting the communities hit hardest by COVID-19.

“That’s not bringing any help to our impoverished community, the people most affected by COVID,” said Etheridge. “Most of those are people of color and women. We need more money because we need more jobs here.”

Etheridge has personal experience working hard to make ends meet for her family. She says she’s had to stretch $40 a week for food and gas for her and her 5-year-old and that struggle is difficult to manage.

“Do I think some of the money should be going to these things? Yes,” she explains. “But we need to be doing common sense spending.”

Greenville Assistant City Manager Michael Cowin presented the allocation plan to the council earlier this month.

He said there are additional dollars being spent that will directly impact marginalized communities in the area.

“There’s a lot of funding for the community that may not have been clarified in the post that was on Facebook,” said Cowin. “That will be explained as part of the public input sessions tomorrow night.”

Cowin said that explanation comes with a budget of $2 million for home funding from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

“Those dollars will be going directly towards an affordable housing project for those that are either at risk of homeless[ness] or are homeless,” said Cowin. “We also have dollars that are going to street improvements.”

The Zoom public input session will be the first in a series of community engagement activities to gain support and input on the funding.

“The first one is on Zoom tomorrow evening and then we’ll be holding two live input sessions in the month of October so that we can start to prep for providing more input to council at its October workshop,” explained Cowin. “Hopefully the council will be in a position in November to actually consider the adoption of the plan.”

The event will be held virtually on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, from 5-7 p.m. Those interested can register at this link.

Copyright 2021 WITN. All rights reserved.