PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Community Preservation Act Committee agreed on a schedule for the next grant cycle.
The committee spent the bulk of its meeting last week discussing the next cycle and agreed to keep a similar agenda to how it planned to move forward during this past cycle.
"We have been trying to feel this out, but this makes it easier for people in the community to track what is going on if we have some kind of level of general consistency," City Planner CJ Hoss said.
The CPA recently wrapped up a grant cycle delayed and affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With uncertainty over if members could actually meet to review applications, they held off on deliberations until the spring.
Hoss recommended that the committee sticks to the more aggressive schedule it had planned to adhere too before the pandemic now that members know they can function remotely and process possible projects.
"I think we want to stick to what we were trying to do this year and end this a little earlier in the spring," he said.
A rough outline of the schedule has the committee accepting applications in early November. This means the application window would need to open sooner than later. Hoss said they can make this announcement in the near future.
Eligible projects would be selected and applicants would be invited to present their projects in February and or March, most likely remotely.
Hoss said the committee could make its recommendations to the City Council in April. The council could approve projects in May and June allowing them to be awarded funds in June.
This would still allow time for other committees such as the Parks Commission or the Historical Commission to weigh in on projects.
Committee member John Dickson said he was impressed by how the applications were processed during the novel coronavirus pandemic and was confident moving into the next cycle.
"I am impressed that we are now ready to start the new funding cycle and we got all of the applications reviewed in that timetable," he said. "For a while, it looked like we would actually postpone the whole thing but we got through it. So let’s pat ourselves on the back."
The committee members then talked about the actual application process with some concerned about the disparity between applications.
Hoss said some organizations just have more experience with grant writing.
"Some of these organizations are just much more experienced in asking for grant funds," Hoss said. "... Others just don't have the staffing or the experience so that is probably what you are seeing."
Committee member Cynthia Dickinson suggested holding an information session for potential applicants or possibly improving communication with applicants throughout the application process.
Other members felt the committee could provide more guidance in general during the application process. They felt applicants should be clearer with elements of their applications, specifically budgets.
Hoss did mention that it becomes increasingly difficult to make widespread changes to the process the closer they get to application deadlines.
The committee also discussed limiting how many times an applicant can apply.
Hoss said the entire process is up to the committee and they can make whatever changes they want.
He gave a quick update on current projects and said the Greenagers environmental project is complete and Berkshire Rowing has purchased its dock but has not yet put it in the water. Hoss said there was a fear lake users may congregate on the dock instead of social distancing. It will be put in the water in the spring if health data allows.
He said city CPA projects should be completed by the end of the calendar year.
"The gears are turning on these projects," he said
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