SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is facing criticism from his political opponent, Justin Hurst, about the 12th round of ARPA funding for outdoor dining.
This month, the mayor has distributed almost $2 million in ARPA funding for outdoor dining, a move which Hurst is calling a coordinated money grab. Springfield has made $2.5 million of it’s more than $123 million available for outdoor dining. The money is intended for the creation of new or significantly improved outdoor dining/event space for businesses and/or non-profits.
Mayoral Candidate Justin Hurst said instead the funds could have helped businesses and nonprofits in dire need, “We are talking about outdoor dining. And nobody has served anybody out of doors as of yet and that means the program, one, did not work, and two, that money could have been spent elsewhere.”
Hurst says 2 Guys Pizzeria is a business that has nothing to show for the money they took. The restaurant on Page Boulevard received $75,000 in outdoor dining funds. 22News went to their business Friday to ask them what they plan to do with that money. They said they hope to extend their patio to the fence and add additional tables.
Owner Carmine Picardi told 22News, “Well, we are going to start working any day… actually I got half the grant awarded last week, so hopefully we’ll start on it soon and maybe in a couple months, we’ll be all set.”
22News asked Mayor Sarno what he thought of these criticisms, “It’s utterly ridiculous. We’re breaking ground today on it, so I am in the business of helping business not only survive but thrive.”
All businesses that were awarded this funding will have to submit receipts and proof of payment for the outdoor dining improvements or they will be required to reimburse the city.