Parks upgrades, other improvements coming to Riverside via ARPA
The Riverside City Council unanimously approved on Feb. 9 approximately $13 million in federal funds for parks and recreation upgrades, $4 million for new trash trucks to bolster an aging sanitation fleet and a number of other projects, the city announced.
The council’s decision dealt with how to spend $36.7 million from the second installment of funds made available to the city from the American Rescue Plan Act, the $350 billion COVID recovery effort signed by President Biden nearly two years ago. The city previously received a $36.7 million ARPA infusion in November 2021.
“These projects will improve the playgrounds and community centers that make our parks such enjoyable places,” Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson said in a statement. “Other ARPA-funded projects will make Riverside safer, strengthen our finances and improve our quality of life.”
Parks projects included in the most recent allocation of ARPA funds include $3 million for a gymnasium building project at Bordwell Park, as well as $10 million for playground resurfacing, replacing playground equipment, repairs to the heating and air conditioning systems at parks buildings, parking lot repairs and replacing floors in community centers throughout Riverside.
The ARPA allocation comes a few months after residents voiced concerns about the condition of city parks in the most recent Quality of Life survey, according to the city’s announcement.
Additional uses for the federal aid include $170,000 for new equipment for the Riverside Police Department, $600,000 for upgrades to the fire department’s Emergency Operations Center, recovery of revenue that was lost during the pandemic because of $2 million in unpaid refuse bills and other costs plus $1.5 million in lost parking garage fees, officials said. ARPA will also provide $600,000 for library materials, $1.4 million for an affordable housing fund and $185,000 for a two-year pilot program supporting artists who create public art projects.
The $600,000 earmark will move Riverside into the top 10 of city libraries in the state, tripling the city’s current annual spending. Currently the Riverside Public Library spends just more than $300,000 annually — primarily because of donations — on books and other materials resulting in a statewide ranking of 45th, according to the 2020-21 California State Library Annual Report.
The ARPA allocation will help all libraries throughout the city, paying for new books, audiobooks, ebooks and other resources geared for early learners, K-12 students, adult education and career testing materials, small business collections and life-long learners, the city reported.
“From public art to affordable housing funds, this plan has something for every part of our community,” Mayor Pro Tem Clarissa Cervantes said in a statement. “Our choices in how to spend these federal dollars reflect the investments we are making into our neighborhoods and our values.”
More information about the spending plan, including details about which projects are funded, can be found by on the city’s website and examining the documents under agenda item 14.