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The Selectmen will try again for a housing grant to help residents improve their properties.

Cheshire to Reapply For Housing Rehab Grant

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The town will once again apply for a Community Development Block Grant for housing rehabilitation through the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.

Patricia Mullins, BRPC's community and economic development program manager, asked board members Tuesday if they wanted to apply for a housing rehabilitation block grant through the state Department of Housing and Community Development to make upgrades to up to 20 homes.

"BRPC stands ready to assist on essentially the same contract as last year … we are just here to see if you want to try again and if you do we are here," Mullins said.  

More than 40 households signed up for the program last year. The town pledged $60,000 toward the program but Mullins said town meeting did not allocate the money before the application was submitted and it was likely the single thing that stopped the application from going forward.

She said this requirement is no longer part of the application process but any funds toward construction will make the application more competitive.

Mullins said other than that, the town's application was solid, and it would be worth applying again.

"I do think that many of the comments that we saw in the evaluation were very encouraging and we got very high scores for need," she said. "We got high scores on the impact this program could have on the community."

She said another change in the program is that households can also receive accessibility updates that would help handicapped or elderly residents live in their homes longer.  

The Selectmen said there was an interest in the town and wanted to apply again.

"There was a lot of interest and pretty good response to it last year and a lot of people were disappointed when we didn't get it," Chairman Robert Ciskowski said.

Mullins said the town started the application process late last year and although there is still work to be done, much of the work is already in place.

"We are ahead because we have so much information already gathered but we still have two months to turn things around and put it back together," she said.

The Selectmen agreed to vote on the matter next week after the members have time to review the memorandum of understanding with BRPC.

In other business, the Selectmen responded to a letter sent to Hoosac Valley Elementary School families Monday stating that because of two radiators with broken pipes in the gymnasium, all physical education classes were being held in classrooms until the repair could be made.

Ciskowski said the gymnasium was known to have heating issues that could have lead to the broken pipes.

"I believe sometime before that date of that letter, the gym essentially had no heat. That is why the pipes perhaps broke and people were wearing their parkas in gym class," he said. "It would almost seem like the breaking of the pipes brought things to a head and I guess the gym has been quite uncomfortable for people for some time now."

The letter stated that there was some water leakage into a storage room in the cafeteria and the boys restroom directly below the gymnasium but the areas have been cleaned and there is no permanent damage.

In a post on Facebook, school authorities said Adams Plumbing & Heating had been working on the system and that the Fire Department had also responded and repairs had been completed. They had initially expected to fix the problem over Christmas break.

"Adams Plumbing replaced the motor and bearings on the heating unit for the Hoosac Valley Elementary School Gymnasium this afternoon. The heat is on and we're back to business as usual. We appreciate the quick response from Adams Plumbing," the post update stated at 2:56 p.m. Tuesday.

Highway Superintendent Blair Crane said during his report that although he was able to get a 2003 International plow truck up and running he would prefer not to run it and possibly sell it.

"The plow is on in it and it is in running repair, and I would at this point not feel comfortable running it or putting any money towards it," he said. "I think we should contemplate selling it."

He said the truck has 74,000 miles on it and 6,000 hours and is beyond its useful life to the town but could be of use to someone who has a smaller area to plow.

"If you were plowing a parking lot it would do you well, but I wouldn't run it up and down the highway," he said. "But for some people, it may have some value."

He said other than the plow truck, he has "worked the bugs out of all the equipment and everything is ready far anticipated snow this weekend."

Tags: CDBG,   Housing program,   

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