Gilbert anticipates receiving $24.07 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act that Congress passed March 11. The town is deliberating on the best way to spend it.

Staff made recommendations for the funding and sought feedback from Gilbert Town Council at council’s May 18 meeting ahead of possible action at its June 1 meeting.

Council members coalesced around one recommendation: using a substantial portion of the funds to pay for a family advocacy center, estimated at $16.79 million. The center would allow victims of physical and sexual abuse to be interviewed, examined and have access to resources in one place.

Other recommendations from staff, as presented to council by Allyna Bay, assistant to the town manager:

  • $3.5 million for design of a police crime lab;

  • $417,330 for expenses related to protests held last summer in town;

  • $1.42 million for overtime expenses related to COVID-19;

  • $1.2 million for nonprofit support;

  • $1.34 million for COVID-19-related expenses; and

  • $7,598 for town vaccine clinics.

The ARPA money would be exhausted by all the items and would require additional funds from the town’s unallocated CARES Act funding, Bay said.

Council Member Aimee Yentes asked if some of the items had already been paid for by use of contingency funds, which Bay said in some cases had happened. Yentes, joined by some other council members, said that it would be appropriate to use contingency funds in such a manner and perhaps that would allow the money to be spent in other ways.

One concern among council members was how rising costs in construction could affect how much money the family advocacy center would cost. Town Engineer David Fabiano said acute rises in material and labor costs are a concern.

Western Canal eminent domain

Council approved on a 7-0 vote additional engineering design services associated with the Western Canal sewer rehabilitation project.

The town is studying additional options to refurbish the sewer line and two other infrastructure pipelines without using eminent domain to acquire parts of the yards of 24 residents along the canal near Freestone Park.

Senior Project Manager Jason Montgomery said the town is looking at drawing up to 10 options by October, then bringing it down to five options between November and April 2022.

During public comment, several residents said they supported the move but hoped it could be sped up so as not to draw out the process another 11 months.

San Tan Adventure Park

Residents near Crossroads District Park spoke out against San Tan Adventure Park, a proposed family entertainment center at the park that would include a go-kart track and miniature golf. Some also protested outside before the meeting.

The residents cited noise associated with the go-karts and sound effects and music used at the miniature golf area, environmental concerns, parking and traffic, and council associations with Ben Cooper of the developmental group. Cooper is a former Gilbert Town Council member.

Council will hear an appeal on the park June 15.