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03/18/2024 04:48 PM

$3.6M in Federal Funding on the Way for Academy

Nearly $4 million is on the way to Town in the shape of several grants from the Congressionally Directed Spending program. More than $3.6 million is earmarked for renovations at the former Academy School building, while the remainder will be used for the creation of a community outreach social worker position.

First Selectwoman Peggy Lyons announced the awarding of the combined $3,739,000 grants in a press release on March 15. She noted that $3.6 million of the newly awarded grant will combine with a $4 million state grant awarded in 2022 to renovate the former Academy School Building into a community center. Madison voters approved the $15.9 million plan to convert the school, which had been sitting vacant for nearly two decades, at a referendum in February 2022.

“We are very excited to receive this sizable federal grant for such an important, high-profile community project like Academy,” Lyons said. “This $3.6 million award, combined with the $4 million state grant we received in 2022, means the Town will be issuing significantly fewer bonds than previously anticipated at referendum, saving Madison taxpayers millions in interest.”

Lyons added that the Town applied for the grant in early 2023 but was held up in protracted federal budget negotiations. Funding was approved as part of the 2024 Minibus Appropriations bill passed 75-22 by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 8.

“Notably, we applied for this grant in early 2023 but were held in limbo due to the protracted federal budget negotiations in Washington D.C. Thank you to Senators [Richard] Blumenthal and [Chris] Murphy for sponsoring both our applications throughout the entire appropriations process and for Congressman [Joe] Courtney for his advocacy and support. Delivering these grants to us in such a challenging environment is a testament to their commitment to our residents.”

The Academy Community Center project is currently in the design phase, and officials anticipate the historic downtown building will be redeveloped into a community asset that will offer art, education, cultural, mental health and wellness, and recreation programming for all ages. In addition to three floors of space, plans call for the inclusion of a small auditorium and a large gym. At the time of its February approval, work on the Academy project was expected to conclude in 2025.

An additional $114,000 grant was awarded to Madison Youth and Family Services (MYFS) to help fund an integrated social worker position with the Madison Police Department. The position is intended to serve as a “second responder” in situations where outreach and support are immediately needed, according to the press release.