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Pittsfield Community Preservation Panel Has $643K Budget For FY22

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city will be working with about $643,000 in Community Preservation Act funds in fiscal 2022 for projects that include historical preservation, open space and outdoor recreation, and affordable housing.

The budget was originally around $743,000 but was reduced by $100,000 when the City Council approved an emergency out-of-cycle application over the summer from CT Management for the conversion of the Tyler Street firehouse into apartments.

The structure, which was previously at risk for demolition, is in need of significant and urgent roof repairs.  The developer sought the CPA funds for that part of the project and it was ultimately approved by the council for $100,000 in August.

Reportedly, the city was told that the state match may be higher than what was originally proposed.  

In FY21, the CPA budget was about $635,000 and the city funded 12 of the 13 projects that applied for the monies totaling $487,407.60.

City Planner CJ Hoss outlined the timeline for the FY22 CPA process to the Community Preservation Committee on Monday.  

"You can generally predict that as long as nothing crazy happens, this is how the next several months, six months are going to go," he said.

The committee will be confirming eligibility for projects by late November, sending out notifications to and instructions to project planners in early December, and in January the final funding applications will be submitted.

Last year, there were interviews for project presentations in April and the City Council made funding decisions in June. Hoss doesn't see why the same timing can't work for FY22.

In the summer of 2020, the process was altered by the novel COVID-19.  The committee had entertained not accepting applications for a year but ultimately decided to consider a few projects that may not be hampered by the pandemic.

The panel agreed on having a public hearing in October for the funds and another meeting in November when they are actually reviewing applications.

Hoss gave them the option of skipping the October meeting, citing a lack of attendance for public comment in previous years, but the committee was more comfortable having two meetings before decisions are made.

"I would feel more comfortable having a separate meeting personally," Danielle Steinmann said.  "Just because in the event that there is a concerted comments from the public that would affect potentially the review process, I would rather have that separate a few weeks before the deadline."

Libby Herland seconded her sentiments and added that because of the committee's new members Stephanie Storie Anthony DeMartino, they should commit to the two meetings and have a "fresh set of eyes" look at the applications.

Hoss agreed with their stance.

The committee approved an eligibility application that is the same as last cycle's but with updated dates. The application is available on the city website here..

At this meeting, Storie, a member of the Conservation Commission, and DeMartino, chair of the Parks Commission, were welcomed as new members.

The panel also voted on new a chair and vice chair, re-appointing John Dickson as chair and Steinmann as vice chair.

Tags: CPA,   fiscal 2022,   

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Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership Discusses Priorities for Forest Center

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The executive committee of the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership on Thursday encouraged collaborators working on ideas for a forest center not to reinvent the wheel.
A pair of students in Williams College's Environmental Planning and Design program gave a presentation to the board about a survey they plan to assess priorities for the center, "an ambitious, somewhat nebulous concept right now but ... part of the enabling legislation establishing the partnership," according to the partnership's Chair Hank Art.
That legislation empowered a collaboration of 19 towns and cities in Berkshire and Franklin Counties to increase natural resource-based economic development and promote sustainable forestry practices in the region.
Sabrine Brismeur and Abby Matheny of Williams are working with the partnership to develop early concepts of what a permanent home for the MTWP might include and where it might be located.
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