West Haven council advised against fed funding for arts center

At a special meeting in December, ARPA Committee chairman Ken Carney advised the council that the city has pressing needs related to youth safety, such as school athletic fields in poor condition and a failing boiler at Carrigan School, that will cost the city much more to address if it were to wait any longer. Carney said the $3.5 million earmarked for the arts center included in Mayor Nancy Rossi’s plan to spend the city’s $29 million allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funding could be better applied to addressing the city’s basic infrastructure concerns.

“No one is going to say, ‘You have a bad breaker in City Hall, we’re going to donate to fix that,'” Carney said. Yet, he argued, there are private donors and government grants that can support the development of a downtown arts hub.

For years, the city has eyed a former Masonic lodge at 304 Center St. as a potential site for an arts center that would support theater, fine art and other cultural events. The project seemingly stalled for years as the city lacked funding to begin the second phase of development, after having stripped the building to its studs.

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