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United Way of Lancaster County


Commissioners eye environmental grants to finish community ARPA Round 2

Lancaster County Government Center, 150 N. Queen St. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

The Lancaster County commissioners are planning to vote next week on what look to be the last two allocations in their second round of community American Rescue Plan Act grants.

The county has $471,200 remaining from the $6 million the commissioners decided to reserve for this round. At their Tuesday work session, they agreed provisionally to provide $300,300 to the Lancaster Farmland Trust and the other $170,900 to Lancaster Clean Water Partners.

Those figures are estimates: Deputy Chief Clerk Amy Campell said she would confirm final numbers and have a resolution ready for the commissioners” meetings next week.

The Farmland Trust would use the money to preserve four of its highest priority farms. Clean Water Partners would put its grant toward $200,000 needed to purchase water quality monitors to install in local streams.

The monitors would provide real-time readings every 15 minutes, Clean Water Partners Executive Director Allyson Gibson said. At present, the lag is around six months, because much of the data is collected and compiled by hand.

Both projects fall within “conservation & preservation,” one of six ARPA funding categories. The Farmland Trust and Clean Water Partners had initially applied for significantly more: $1.3 million and just under $4 million, respectively.

Click to enlarge. (Source: Lancaster County)

Both organizations received funding in the county’s first round of community ARPA grants: $1.52 million for the Farmland Trust and just under $3.5 million for Clean Water Partners.

If the allocations are approved next week, the commissioners will have funded 20 of the 29 Round 2 projects deemed eligible. A total of 75 were submitted.

Commissioner Alice Yoder asked her colleagues if they would consider providing the $250,000 requested by Community Basics for Manor Youth House, a transitional living facility for young adults aging out of foster care. It’s an important project, she said: “I have a hard time letting that one go.”

It could be considered later this year, Commissioner Ray D’Agostino said, if the commissioners decide that some of the $3 million in ARPA they are holding in reserve can go to more community grants. For now, though, he and Commissioner Josh Parsons were unwilling to go above the previously set limit of $6 million.

Jean Kilheffer Hess, executive director of Mennonite Life, formerly the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, made a pitch for her organization’s project, the $55,000 installation of a storm sewer to redirect stormwater that is eroding soil behind a retaining wall, for which it is seeking $45,000 in ARPA. It’s shovel-ready, she said, and would help a community-level nonprofit cover a cost that amounts to 4.5% of its annual budget.

All the county’s ARPA money must be allocated by December.