A rendering of the YMCA's new gym and headquarters in downtown Salem by CBTWO Architects(Courtesy/YMCA of Marion and Polk Counties)

Rural Polk County will get broadband internet. The local YMCA will be able to offer childcare after upgrading its building. Towns outside of Salem will have millions for infrastructure upgrades. Local nonprofits will also have extra cash to support their programs.

Those are some of the projects on the wish lists of Salem area lawmakers on how to spend Oregon’s $4.6 billion share of the American Rescue Plan Act signed by President Joe Biden.

In April, legislative leaders asked lawmakers for proposals on which state agencies, local governments or nonprofits to direct the money to. The funds would be used for capital projects, grant programs, support services or technical assistance. Each state senator was given $4 million and each state representative $2 million for projects that’ll be included in the upcoming state budget.

“We have to deal with so much pain and suffering,” said Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, in a statement “Oregonians need help. Oregon needs hope. We came up with a way for legislators to make their own decisions, for their own communities.”

Courtney is directing all of his $4 million to a redesign of the YMCA of Marion and Polk Counties that’ll include two new preschool classrooms, as well as youth development rooms.

A letter from Timothy Sinatra, the local YMCA’s CEO, in support of the funding request said that the new 51,000-square-foot facility in downtown Salem will be able to serve 1,617 individuals each day through various programs after it’s completed in 2022. He noted how childcare options in the Salem area have decreased in recent years and have been made worse by the pandemic.

State Sen. Brian Boquist, I-Dallas, requested $1.68 million for Polk County to help it build on its wireless broadband infrastructure that’s been in high demand since the pandemic began. He requested another $2.3 million to help Yamhill County improve its broadband infrastructure.

After last year’s devastating wildfires, state Sen. Fred Girod, R-Lyons, requested millions to help local fire districts prepare for the upcoming fire season. He requested $2.4 million for a new station for the Idanha-Detroit Rural Fire Protection District and $1 million for broadband services for the Drakes Crossing Rural Fire Protection District near Silverton.

Also included in Girod’s asks were $100,000 for IT and security upgrades at the Stayton Police Department, and $500,000 for a crosswalk in Sweet Home.

State Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, requested $3.3 million to local chambers of commerce for business support programs across her district that includes parts of Clackamas, Yamhill and Washington counties. She also asked for $665,000 for broadband infrastructure improvements in Wilsonville and Sherwood.

State Sen. Deb Patterson, D-Salem, submitted four items that direct money to nonprofits, establish a new homeless shelter and others.

She requested $200,000 for a small business grant program to be run by the Monmouth-Independence Chamber of Commerce and $750,000 to support the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency purchasing a motel to convert into a homeless shelter.

Patterson earmarked $2 million for the United Way, which will distribute the money to various nonprofits including the Boys and Girls of Salem, Center for Hope and Safety and others.

Also included in her request is $1 million for the Monmouth-Independence Trolley, a proposed bus system between the two cities. State Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth, also directed his $2 million towards that project.

Other local representatives also had just one $2 million item on their wish lists. State Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence, asked for funding for a transmission pipeline project for the city of Amity.

State Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, requested $2 million for the Salem Community Investment Fund, a new grant program that will be administered by Marion County. Grants from the program will be aimed at “preserving or creating jobs,” bolstering nonprofits and “supporting historically marginalized communities.”

State Rep. Teresa Alonso León, D-Woodburn, asked for $1 million for the Legion Park Athletic Complex for the city of Woodburn, and $172,000 to expand services at Salem Free Clinics, which is a local safety net for underserved communities.

She also asked for $323,700 for Chemeketa Community College’s Brooks Regional Training Center to purchase a new fire engine for its training program. Her fourth request was $500,000 for Alianza Poder, a network of Salem area community organizations focused on the Latino population to increase the number of minority certified community health workers.

State Rep. Raquel Moore-Green, R-Salem, requested $300,000 to help the city of Aumsville with seismic retrofitting and upgrades to its Tower Well reservoir and park. She requested another $300,000 to help the city of Turner bring the Burkland Pool up to code.

Additionally, she requested $150,000 to support the opening of the Willamette Career Academy, which will be located in the former Toys-R-Us building on Lancaster Drive N.E. and will offer career-oriented technical education. Her fourth item was $1.25 million for a grant program run by the United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley that’ll broadly include homelessness, child abuse prevention, wildfire relief and others.

State Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer, also had a list of requests aimed at helping local governments with infrastructure. He asked for $696,000 to upgrade the city of St. Paul’s water system, $54,000 to improve river access at the Historic Butteville Landing and $400,000 for streets in Newberg. He also requested $850,000 to the city of Keizer to help it hire court advocates for vulnerable children and make other infrastructure improvements.

State Rep. Rick Lewis, R-Silverton, was similarly focused on helping cities with infrastructure needs. He asked for $500,000 each for four items that include a sewer system project in the city of Mt. Angel, a bike and pedestrian path in Molalla, an expansion of the city of Aurora’s water system and construction of a new city hall in Silverton. 

 Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.

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