Pittsfield Council Accepts Grant, Easements, For Habitat's Condo Project
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Habitat for Humanity has put together more pieces to bring the Gordon Deming project to fruition.
The City Council on Tuesday authorized the acceptance of an easement and a $425,000 state grant allowing the long-awaited project to move forward. The $1.1 million project has been in the works for about a decade when Berkshire Gas first donated property on Deming Street. That building has been torn down and Habitat is now planning a six-unit condominium project in its place.
"Normally we do one to two homes a year so this will be six in 18 months," Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Carolyn Valli said.
The state grant was announced in November 2017 by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. It is intended to help with the infrastructure, particularly creating the roadway and water infrastructure.
From there, Habitat will build three, two-unit condominiums on the property. Valli said Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity is in consideration of being a national advertising site because of the project.
After the project's financing was in place, Habitat was faced with some permitting snags that delayed construction. The project ran afoul of the Wetlands Protection Act, raising concerns from the Conservation Commission. Engineers had worked to provide enough restored wetlands on site but fell short. That led Habitat to have to look for, and eventually purchase, property elsewhere.
Habitat bought land on West Housatonic Street — between McDonald's and Roasted Garlic — and is restoring that land into wetlands to replace what was being lost with the project. In September all of those permitting pieces had come together and were approved.
The City Council praised the project and the work of Habitat on Tuesday. Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo was particularly happy with that the project helps local families.
"The families have to put in a number of hours in work and time doing these houses is why it is so easy to stay local," Mazzeo said.
The recipients of the homes are required to go through a number of financial coaching and other training. Then they are expected to volunteer between 400 and 650 hours of volunteer work with Habitat. In the end, the recipients are able to purchase the newly constructed building.
In this case, the purchasers are also going through training on how to run an ownership association. The six occupants will be forming the association to handle the maintenance of the shared land in the development.
"They will get a lot of training on how to run these meetings," Valli added.
Valli said even after handing the project over to the new association, Habitat will still be there to "keep the peace" and will be the tiebreaker if there are any conflicts among the association members.
In other business, the council also accepted two grants for the airport. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation awarded the airport $182,000 to upgrade the airport's security gates and $152,000 to purchase a new front loader.
Airport Manager Kristopher Keane said the front loader currently there is aging. He expects a few more years out of that one and for the time being, the airport will have two. He added that the attachments to the old front loader will be interchangeable with the new one.
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell questioned if the airport is still using the General Services Administration for equipment purchases. The airport is eligible to purchase surplus equipment at a reasonable price through that program.
"I thought it was a really good deal because only the airport could be getting the equipment from the GSA for basically nothing, hold it for a couple of years, and then hand it over to the city," Connell said.
Keane said the airport hasn't done that recently but some of the equipment purchased there is being used. He added that there is also equipment there that is not being used and he's offered it to other departments. The former assistant manager had used the program to purchase equipment that needed repair and then make the repairs. There are a few pieces that still need repair at the airport, Keane said.
Tags: habitat for humanity, housing,
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