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Cheshire Meets Housing Rehab Application Requirement

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — More than 50 residents have signed on to the Housing Rehabilitation Program, surpassing the recommended amount.  

Patricia Mullins from the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, who is guiding the town through the Department of Housing and Community Development program that allows residents to use grant funds to make repairs to their homes, attended a public hearing last Tuesday and told the Selectmen the application will be ready for the March deadline.

She said with the names the town and BRPC have gathered compile a large list of interested residents.

"Last weekend, one of our representatives was out on the lake for the ice fishing festival on Sunday and she collected I believe something like 45 names," Mullins said.

She said the reason the department likes to see around 50 names is because if it aims to fund 15 to 20 projects, there is an expectation some residents may back out when it comes time to commit to the program.

"By the time they get down to the nitty-gritty in terms of responsibility and whether or not they accept the terms some people back out," she said. "So you need a pool of applicants."  

Mullins said if the grant is awarded, those who signed on to the waiting list will be mailed an informational packet with more details on the program.

The town's chances of receiving funds will be greater if it commits to asking town meeting to allocate a local share, she said. Normally towns agree to submit 10 percent of the total grant.

At the very most the town would receive $600,000. This means the town's share would be $60,000 that could be allocated from free cash.

"I think if we told the town that we had a $600,000 rehab grant and we need to pledge $60,000 I think we would get it," Selectwoman Carol Francesconi said.

Mullins said grants will be awarded in July.

In other business, Department of Public Works Director Peter LeFebvre said the town will most likely run over its snow and ice removal budget.

"By the time all of our bills finally come in we should be within $4,000 of going over, which sounds like a lot but that is only two loads of salt," he said. "Depends on what happens it could stay like this for the rest of the season and we will be just about perfect but I'm not holding my breath."

LeFebvre added that paving on Stewart White Road should begin this spring.

"The oil and stone section of it is basically nonexistent right now, it is nothing but potholes," he said. "We are going to start patching them. The only thing we can do is grind it up and start all over. It's too far gone."

Before closing the meeting, Selectman Robert Ciskowski requested that the town open a dialogue with Lanesborough about sharing a DPW director.

"I would just like to know more about it because I really don't know how it would work or if it would work," he said.

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