CPC public hearing and quarterly meeting Wednesday

Members of the Community Preservation Committee at last year’s public hearing and funding request meeting at City Hall. (Photo by Amy Porter)

WESTFIELD – The Community Preservation Committee (CPC) will conduct a public information hearing on Wed., April 11 at 6:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers (Room 201), 59 Court Street. The annual hearing will solicit the needs, possibilities and resources of the city regarding Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds.
The Community Preservation Act (known as “CPA” and MGL Chapter 44B) was enacted as a tool to aid Massachusetts municipalities in the preservation of qualified open space, historic, recreation and housing resources. The Act authorizes revenues to be raised from two sources in order to fund resource preservation projects: up to a 3% real estate tax surcharge; and fees for recording Registry of Deeds documents. Westfield locally funds its CPA account by a 1% property tax surcharge. The state originally matched all, though more recently just part, of the funds raised locally to augment monies available for projects in Westfield. This year, the state match is 15%, according to City Planner Jay Vinskey at a recent meeting.
The CPA was adopted by the voters of the City in 2003. CPA funds can be used to address four core interests: Open Space, Community Housing, Historic Resources, and Recreational Land.
Immediately following the public information hearing, the CPC will hold its quarterly meeting to review pending applications and the status of recommended or funded projects.
Pending applications include $85,000 for rehabilitation to the Grist Mill and the Meeting House in Stanley Park’s Colonial Village, under the historic category. At the CPC’s meeting in January, the grant decision was postponed while the city reviewed an amended deed restriction from the park.
A new application for $250,000 for the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail is on the agenda, under recreation. Last July, the CPC voted to give $250,000 to the Rail Trail that had been cut from the city budget in June. At the time, Jeremy Cigal, the assistant civil engineer who presented the project, said they would be coming back for two more years of requests, in order to receive a $6.25 million state and federal match for the central portion of the trail.
Another new applicant is the Elks Lodge Building at 56 Franklin Street with a request for $96,576 to refurbish its columns, under the historic category.
Also listed under new projects is $77,625 for a down payment assistance program for housing. At the January meeting, Vinskey noted that there were no applications for the $400,000 in CPA funds restricted for affordable housing. Dan Kelly of the Westfield Housing Authority, a member of the CPC said that they had talked about setting up a housing trust, which could enable the funds to be used for subsidizing rent, or helping first-time homebuyers.
The list of all projects funded by Westfield from 2003 to 2017 is listed on the Community Preservation Coalition’s Project Database at communitypreservation.org/projects.

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