Lynnwood city councilmembers ponder use of ARPA funds, proposed community fair

Councilmembers discuss how they will use ARPA funds.

The Lynnwood City Council at its Monday work session continued its discussion of how the city will spend its allocated $10.9 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Over the past few months, the council has heard a variety of ideas for spending the money, but has not yet reached a consensus. 

The council has until Dec. 31, 2024 to decide how the funds will be spent, and until Dec. 31, 2026 to actually spend the money.

Councilmembers Monday night reviewed the list of 43 items of interest and discussed which should be removed to reduce their list of funding options.

“Let’s keep this [list] to be as Lynnwood-centric as possible,” Councilmember Jim Smith said.

Councilmembers Patrick Decker and Shannon Sessions agreed that each item should be looked at closely to ensure only residents of Lynnwood would benefit from these funds, as other cities have received their own ARPA funding.

Council President George Hurst also reminded councilmembers that the city has applied for three county grants that could also benefit Lynnwood. He asked members to keep this in mind while deciding on the list of items to ensure none received double the funding from multiple grants.

“Let’s keep that in mind that there is potential that one, none or all of these [needs] could be funded by the county,” Hurst said.

Councilmembers discuss the use of ARPA funds.

After lengthy discussion, the council removed several items from the list, but stated they wanted more information for a number of others before they decide whether to keep them.

In other business, Smith provided an update on the community fair project he is hoping to bring to Lynnwood this summer.

With potential dates of July 30-31, Smith said it should cost just under $20,000 for the city to host this community event.

Along with offering booths, live music and games, Smith proposed having an area where community members can get coffee with city officials, including councilmembers, police officers and the mayor. 

“We want to have this where people are feeling good about Lynnwood and having something to do,” Smith said. “But this is a business fair that we’re calling a community fair. So that businesses can be better supported in our community.”

Smith proposed having fire trucks, police cars, and police K9 demos as well. 

Smith is hoping enough Lynnwood city staff volunteer to run the event completely. 

Councilmember Decker suggested the fair also include an area where residents could engage in question-and-answer sessions with representatives of city departments. 

“‘How do I get a permit for a fence?’” Decker asked as an example. “‘Where do I go [to find out] about things that are going on for residents in the neighborhood?’ So staff is available to answer some of those questions there.”

Sessions said she feels Smith is moving too fast, noting that while he has many ideas, he still has not yet received approvals for hosting the event.

“I think we really need to incorporate the city more,” she said. “It’s going to be more of the city’s burden than you think. Once we get those approvals … and again, go through the process like any other big event would have to do to make sure we have all of our t’s crossed and our i’s dotted.”

Sessions went on to say that Lynnwood’s Fair on 44th already does most of the things Smith has brought up and isn’t sure why the city would essentially host the same fair in a smaller setting. For the community fair to be a success, she said there needs to be enough differences to entice the community to go to both.

Hurst said he’d like to see how many people actually plan on volunteering before he votes yes on any of Smith’s ideas.

“Is there a large committee of volunteers?” he asked. “Because I don’t want this council to be the committee. We really need to see the volunteers that are willing to be there. There’s a lot of work here. I just want to make sure that we can pull it off.”

The council is set to vote on Smith’s community fair proposal next week, with the understanding that it will only go forward with other city officials’ approval as well.

The meeting ended with a 45-minute executive session that was closed to the public.

— By Lauren Reichenbach

  1. Good idea, but why do we need two community events that will provide the same information. Community events of this nature should be special and represent something. As Ms Sessions indicated, the Lynnwood Fair on 44th has the venue to provide the same information as proposed for the event in July. I might suggest a community event such as a Chile cookoff contest. This would bring the community together. The public can participate as well as Chile chefs from public safety and public services. I would definitely volunteer on the committee if that happens.

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