ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Members of the St. Louis Board of Alderman held a town-hall meeting at the O’Fallon Park and Rec Complex Saturday morning to hear how residents would like to see nearly $500 million dollars in American Rescue Plan Act funds used.
“These ARPA dollars they represent an opportunity to be transformational across our city but also across our country,” Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed said at the start of the meeting.
Right now, the city has around $250 million. The rest of the nearly $500 million will be available in the coming months.
“We’ve written the Mayor, we’ve written the Alderman, we’ve sat at these meetings and it’s time for action,” Yolanda Owens said.
Action could be happening soon because the funds need to be allocated through legislation by 2024 and spent by 2026. Owens said she appreciates her alderman’s efforts in her ward, but like many, she’s ready for concrete plans and results from the entire board.
“We need you to care. What you’re doing in Central West End, do it here,” Owens said as the small crowd applauded.
“I see a little bit of change but it’s the same thing over and over again. They keep asking us what we need, what do we want, when have educated people who are upfront on the panel,” she said.
“Alderman, they’re getting emails, text messages, and pleas from us daily about what we need, so these types of meetings insight things in people’s feelings which it did to me today.”
Born and raised in St. Louis, she returned home in the fall of 2020 because of the pandemic. Owens said seeing what her neighborhood used to be, compared to what it is now, is heartbreaking.
“So much land here, and I can tell you it did not used to be like this. I’m fifty-something years old and I see a terrible depreciation of this neighborhood,” she said.
Reaching residents like Owens is why the town hall was set up. She said she hopes the messages sent Saturday morning like hers don’t go unheard.
“Make all of us equal in this process of distributing this money and redevelopment for our city,” Owens said.