Southern Indiana

New Albany officials approved more than $4 million in American Rescue Plan relief spending on Tuesday.

A bulk of the funding is going towards outdoor recreational projects.

A trail extension along the Ohio River is receiving nearly $1.4 million. The city is extending its Greenway Trail westward to the future site of its River Recreation park.

Another nearly $2.5 million will go towards the city’s development of property along Silver Creek, which includes a trail and access to paddling and fishing on the creek.

“These are big projects, but they’re also neighborhood projects,” said Redevelopment Director Josh Staten. “These projects will connect to neighborhoods that otherwise would not have an immediate connection to the Greenway, to Clarksville, to Louisville.”

When the American Rescue Plan Act was announced, the federal government approved its use on assisting people and businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic, paying premiums to essential city workers, offsetting government revenue losses, and investing in infrastructure.

New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan said the recreational projects fall into the infrastructure category and will also help the city achieve its goal of improving overall quality of life.

“These new additions and improvements will move the city forward in many ways, and they will especially bring more opportunities to improve mental and physical health for the residents of our river city and beyond,” he said in a release.

The New Albany Redevelopment Commission also allocated $50,000 each to a pair of nonprofits. St. Elizabeth’s helps families who are experiencing hardships, including domestic violence. Blessings in a Backpack provides meals to students experiencing food scarcity.

An additional $100,000 was approved for the city’s Emergency Repair Program. The program assists income-qualified homeowners repair “urgent conditions” that could cause health and safety problems.

New Albany is also opening up a second round of small business grants using American Rescue Plan funding.

Businesses with 100 employees or fewer are eligible for the program. The maximum amount that can be awarded is $10,000. The funding can only be used for daily operations.

Eligible businesses can apply at newalbanycityhall.com/smallbusinesshelp. More than 40 local businesses benefited from the program during the first round of funding earlier this year.

New Albany has spent about half of the $16.83 million it received in federal COVID-19 relief funding. The city’s redevelopment commission is in charge of distributing that money, despite objections from some city council members.

This story’s headline was updated to reflect that the city approved COVID relief funding.

John is the Health/Southern Indiana Reporter for WFPL. He is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.