City using $20,000 COVID relief fund for TMNT manhole covers

One photo shows the TMNT gang standing together on the street while one lifts a manhole cover.

photo: Paul Natkins (Getty Images)

Northampton, Massachusetts officials have given the green light to a plan to build and install four Teenage mutant ninja turtle-manhole covers to celebrate the fact that the massive franchise was originally founded there. And to pay for it, the city is using funds designed to help rebuild cities and businesses hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pandemic (which is still a thing, even as many people try to pretend otherwise) has devastated cities and businesses across the United States as of March 2020 American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, also known as ARPA. This was a nearly $2 trillion stimulus package designed to help the country recover more quickly from the various effects of the pandemic and to try to cope with the ongoing recession. Barely through Congress, President Biden signed it March 11, 2021. As a result, Northampton, Massachusets received $4 million for the city and its officials to muster for them COVID-19 recovery efforts.

And that’s probably how we ended up here: With a city spending $20,000 TMNT– themed manhole covers.


As reported by WCVB, the four manhole covers will be arranged along Main Street and each will depict a different turtle. This is not a random choice as the city was the original home of Mirage Studios, the place where the TMNT Franchise was born. Since their inception in 1984, the Turtles have evolved beyond comics into films, cartoons, games, toys and so on. So I understand. TMNT is a big deal for the city. But it still shines strange.

According to the city Where all of ARPA’s money goes, the idea behind the custom manhole covers is to “revitalize the arts of downtown” through a “public art tribute to the Northampton-born Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” That’s all well and good, and looking at the list of other grants, it’s clear that more important projects receive far more resources from the city. But I can’t help but wonder if that $20,000 could be better spent helping more people directly. Or to create a tribute to a far superior show, Disney’s gargoyle. City using $20,000 COVID relief fund for TMNT manhole covers

Curtis Crabtree

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