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Community Preservation Act Committee members voted on whether or not to fund various projects on Feb. 28.

CPA Committee Pledges $200K For Housing Trust Fund

By John Durkan
iBerkshires Staff
02:44PM / Wednesday, February 29, 2012
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Community Preservation Act Committee approved the $107,500 request from the Affordable Housing Committee and then unanimously approved to endorse a Municipal Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
 
The CPA Committee then voted to set aside $200,000 to the potential trust fund, pending formation of the trust fund. However, if the trust fund is not approved then the $200,000 goes back into the CPA account.

Like all CPA recommendations, those funds and the trust would have to be approved by town meeting.

The $107,500 would cover research toward possible locations for affordable housing. At the last meeting, the Affordable Housing Committee asked for a long-term commitment in the form of a $600,000 amendment, which would go toward future acquisitions for development. Instead, both committees decided to work toward forming a trust fund.

Initially, the committee motioned to give the trust fund $150,000 of the then-remaining available $250,000 in the CPA budget. CPA Committee member Christopher Winters argued to include more money for easier and quicker potential land purchases.
 
"Part of the problem with addressing affordable housing in this town is the inability to act quickly," Winters said. "Land comes up infrequently, and the appropriated groups never have the money to actually buy it when a willing seller has appropriate land. You know, these things don’t act on a fiscal-year cycle."
 
CPA Committee Chairman Philip McKnight said he wanted to hold more money back for an emergency situation – such as the Spruces Mobile Home Park  – and if there were no such needs, the money could be transferred to the fund.
 
CPA Committee member Dan Gendron suggested a compromise at $200,000, so that both extra funds – about $50,000 – are available, while allowing more leeway to the potential trust fund.
 
Affordable Housing Committee Chairwoman Catherine Yamamoto explained the trust would run specifically under MGL Chapter 44, Section 55c, which says: "The purpose of the trust is to provide for the creation and preservation of affordable housing and municipalities for the benefit of low- and moderate-income households."

In other business:

► The CPA Committee allotted $25,000 of the requested $48,000 for the gravestone restoration project by the South Williamstown Historical Committee. Committee member Gina Rouse said the oldest gravestones were completed first and the group will now focus on gravestones closer to where burials are now occuring.

► With no discussion, the 1753 House Committee received $4,000 to replace a replica chimney.

► Berkshire Housing Development Corp., which is planned to offer affordable housing targeted to people with Williamstown connections, was granted $80,000 unopposed.

► The CPA Committee rejected, 3-5, a $10,000 request for a new scoreboard for the Williamstown Cal Ripken Baseball Inc. Winters was worried about beginning to spend money on a field located on a floodway, which could lead to even more costly CPA expedentures.

► David Richardson of the South Williamstown Community Association withdrew a $400,000 request so the group could purchase the vacant Store at Five Corners  and transform it into a non-profit. Richardson said the group could not get the approval to potentially purchase the land from the current landowner.

Tags: affordable housing,   community preservation,   CPA,   Spruces,   

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