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'Use it for the things we need': St. Louis neighbors sound off on what to do with incoming ARPA funds

City leaders will have two years to decide how to allocate the money and four years to spend it.

ST. LOUIS — Wednesday night, the first of two town halls allowed the public to weigh in on how to best take advantage of $250 million coming from the American Rescue Plan Act. That money is headed to St. Louis later this month. City leaders will soon come up with a plan after hearing from the community.

"These streets, they're sinking in,” a neighbor said.

"Houses are dilapidated. They need either demolition, put some money towards demolition, and the weeds are high,” Jerry Willis added.

Residents want change.

"Let's put our city back together,” Willie Mae James said. The 85 year old took advantage of Mayor Tishaura Jones’ invitation to tell the city what you want with a remaining $250 million coming to the city from the American Rescue Plan Act, also known as ARPA.

"I believe those who are closest to the problem are closest to the solution,” Jones said.

RELATED: North St. Louis to get $39M in ARPA funding after bill passes Board of Aldermen
James had no problem giving her two cents.

"We need those speed bumps. They fly through the street. They don't stop for the stop sign. They shoot whenever they feel like it and I'm tired of all of that crime,” she said.

The mayor says she's listening.

"I remember a St. Louis where it was safe for our babies to play outside without fear of gunshots ringing out in the distance,” Jones told the crowd.

It's why the public handed over a list of suggestions including more police and dealing with potholes and overgrown trees. That's not all.

"With this money, I hope you all find some farmer's markets, grocery stores, safe viable neighborhoods and communities in this northside,” Donna Maria Hall said.

"The homeless are being ran away from place to place and many of these homeless people cannot get the help that they need because there's no collaboration of help for them,” another neighbor chimed in.

"If you’re going to get this money, use it for the things we need. Everything counts,” Willis said.

City leaders will have two years to decide how to allocate the money and four years to spend it.

The next town hall will happen next Tuesday at Meramec Elementary School.

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