Pittsfield Community Preservation Committee Approves 11 Applications / iBerkshires.com
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Community Preservation Committee on Monday approved all but two applications for eligibility for Community Preservation Act funding for fiscal year 2022.
All 13 applications for recreation and open space, historic resources and community housing projects were received this year with a total of approximately $927,000 requested.
Eleven of these proposals were deemed eligible with a total of approximately $717,000 in CPA funds requested.
Proposals include improvements to the Kirvin Park disc golf course, a gazebo on Francis Avenue, an improvement project for Morningside School and a stained glass restoration project at St. Stephen’s Church.
There were questions about the Morningside School’s application, which indicated the school was looking for a way to provide a safe space on the property for families to recreate. Mentioned in the application are a basketball court, gardens, rest areas and a gazebo.
He also mentions that the bars have been removed from the old Second Street Jail, stating that having a building that looks like a jail next to where the kids play is inconvenient.
Committee members wondered what the project would actually entail and felt the need for more information even though they deemed it eligible.
City planner CJ Hoss also pointed out that they had to be careful with the St. Stephen project due to the anti-state aid amendment that prohibits the use of public funds to private entities for private gain. .
The two rejected applications requested funds for renovations to existing residential units and were deemed ineligible under APC guidelines because they did not create new affordable housing.
One was a request for $110,000 from Michelle Manor Apartments at 40-52 Linden St. for needed renovations and the other was a request for $100,000 from G&W Rentals for 549 North St.
“My concern in deeming them eligible is that we could potentially open Pandora’s box to other private building applicants and say ‘listen, we can access these funds if we commit X percent of our units to be affordable and you gave it why wouldn’t you give it to us,” said committee member Anthony DeMartino.
“And putting an undue burden on staff to try to control something that is getting quite complex.”
Hoss said the city was trying to create an affordable housing trust and thought such apps would be better suited for that.
The town has applied for a technical assistance grant from the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission for staff support and is currently going through the planning process. In late winter or early spring, Hoss said they hoped to present a petition to city council that would build trust.
“We’ve specifically incorporated this into our new downtown zoning,” he added.
“Where if the developers ask for a waiver to provide affordable housing, they put the least amount of money into a trust so that we can create our own affordable housing if we have to or spend it on affordable housing developer projects or the accommodation company. “
In September, a CPA budget of $643,000 for fiscal year 2022 was announced. The budget was originally around $743,000, but was reduced by $100,000 when City Council approved an off-cycle emergency request over the summer from CT Management for the firehouse conversion fire department from Tyler Street to apartments.
Last year, CPA requests were down in terms of overall funds requested. In FY21, the CPA’s budget was approximately $635,000 and the city funded 12 of 13 projects that requested funds totaling $487,407.60.
Hoss said that for FY22, the projects are all heavily dependent on APC funding compared to other funding options. The initial total of proposals before the rejection of two applications was approximately $927,000 with an overall project value of approximately $1,447,000.
There are currently about $694,000 in CPA funds available, and Hoss said he wouldn’t recommend an allocation of more than $650,000 to keep a cushion.
Applications deemed eligible for CPA funding for FY22 are:
- Berkshire Athenaeum/Tax & Vital Records Digitization, $87,815
- Berkshire Theater Group/Garage Facade Restoration, $75,740
- City of Pittsfield Cultural Development/Lest We Forget Mural, $15,000
- City of Pittsfield DCD/Clapp Park Little League Buildings, $9,500
- City of Pittsfield DCD/Kirvin Park Disc Golf, $7,500
- City of Pittsfield DCD/West Park Cemetery Restoration, $15,000
- Habitat for Humanity/Francis Avenue Observation Park, $16,000
- Habitat for Humanity/266 Onota Street, $150,000
- Habitat for Humanity/84 Robbins Avenue, $140,000
- Morningside School/Inclusion Project, $50,000
- Restoration of St Stephen’s Church and stained glass, $150,000
Key words: PCA,