The community preservation committee just authorized 11 projects to spend $670,000. Here’s what you need to know | Berkshires Center
PITTSFIELD — In a year full of funds, the Community Preservation Committee voted unanimously Monday to recommend full funding for 10 of 11 projects before the body, including two community housing proposals and a relocation plan of a Vietnam commemorative fresco.
The odd project — the restoration of the Tiffany stained glass windows in St. Stephen’s Church — received a recommendation that would cover more than 80% of its initial funding request.
The committee started the year with nearly $880,000 to use for community projects this year. An off-cycle request to cover the cost of repairs to the roof of the old Morningside fire station and restoration of the Arrowhead barn brought that original amount down to around $774,000. Monday night’s vote by the committee recommends using $670,317 of the money available this year for the 11 projects.
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Here are the three takeaways from the meeting and what you need to know about what’s next.
Housing was a top priority
Throughout the application process, committee members score each project based on the project’s expected impact, alignment with city priorities, feasibility, and level of external support.
This year, only two of the 11 projects deemed eligible for funding were community housing proposals. The projects, both submitted by Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, requested $150,000 to build two affordable housing units on Robbins Avenue and $140,000 to build two affordable housing units on Onota Street.
There is nearly $880,000 to spend on community preservation projects in Pittsfield this year. Here are the 11 projects hoping for some of that money
The projects were ranked first and third respectively by committee members who said the benefit of funding the projects was more than evident.
“These are projects that may or may not happen without this level of funding,” said committee member Tony DeMartino. “We have the funds to do it and [Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity] has a proven track record.
President John Dickson agreed, stating that “given the housing emergency in the city, I think that would be a good use of this funding”.
If in doubt, financeIn most cases, the committee came to the meeting prepared to respond to funding requests from all applicants. The two projects that produced genuine disagreement all ended up being funded.
Members debated whether a plan to build a pocket park at the Francis Avenue lookout and a staircase connecting West Side residents to nearby grocery stores and the Salvation Army fit the definition of open spaces or recreation projects of the Community Preservation Act.
Similar questions about the letter of the deed sparked discussions about whether a proposal to move the Vietnam Memorial Mural to West Housatonic Street really counted as “historic preservation” if most – if not all – painting had to be recreated.
“It shows that we’re not just a group of people sitting around saying I like this project or not, I don’t like it,” said committee member Libby Herland. “We are really trying to comply with the law and the purpose of the funding.”
After members consulted the law, the committee agreed that both projects were within limits and each proposal received a recommendation for funding.
What happens afterwards?
The committee’s recommendation will be presented to City Council for consideration at the May 10 council meeting. The board will decide whether to accept, modify or reject the committee’s recommendation.
Planner CJ Hoss told the committee he thinks council should vote on the plans by the end of May or early June.