Pittsfield Community Preservation Accepting Applications for FY2022
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city has a budget of about $743,450 for Community Preservation Act funding awards in fiscal 2022.
The monies can be used for projects that fall under community housing, historic preservation, and open space and recreation.
In August, the City Council approved an emergency, out-of-cycle application for $100,000 from the fiscal 2022 CPA fund for roof improvements to the Tyler Street firehouse, which is being redeveloped by CT Management.
The Community Preservation Committee on Monday held a public hearing for the yearly funding cycle. This is mandated under the CPA legislation that was adopted in 2000.
No members of the community attended the virtual hearing to give feedback.
The CPA committee was created through a public process from 2017 to 2018 and following that, public comment was bundled with a community survey to create a planning document for the funds.
"A lot of the specific projects and priorities are based on plans, we didn't have to recreate the wheel," City Planner CJ Hoss explained.
"We use the city's master plan, the open space and recreation plan, a plan related to our conservation properties, as well as a lot of housing work under the CDBG activities funded through this department, the Community Development Block Grant activities lead to a lot of feedback on how that plan was created."
About $2 million in CPA funds have been awarded over the first four years of the program.
When the application process began last year, the CPC received 13 applicants totaling about $573,000. Hoss said this is the lowest number of applications yet and attributed it to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The City Council approved 12 of the 13 applications, which brought the total fund down to about $472,000. The panel rejected County Club of Pittsfield's application for chimney restoration funds.
the 2021 projects included the Berkshire Antheneum photo digitalization, a barn restoration at Herman Melville's Arrowhead, the YMCA facade restoration, and the Reigning Love Church restoration into the Eastview Apartments.
In fiscal 2020, the CPA process was put on hold in March that year because of the pandemic. During this time, Mayor Linda Tyer put forward a COVID-19 Economic Recovery Program that included a request of $110,000 in CPA funds to be utilized for Emergency Housing Assistance, which was passed by the council.
The committee discussed increasing press coverage on CPA funding. Members suggested the use of lawn signs and a press release to spread the word.
"I think when it was new, I think a lot of people kind of grabbed on to it, now that we're about four years into it, if there's any plan to maybe every four or five years, kind of re-publicize it to the community that this fund does exist," Anthony DeMartino said.
"I know that projects certainly are incredibly meaningful and some of them get some very good press along the way, but maybe not how they were funded, so maybe the community sort of forgets that this is available to them and to reach out periodically, just that little bit of a reminder for them whether it's through the commissions, through our meetings or through any of the other means of social media."
Also in this meeting, the panel approved an amendment to a past approval from the Berkshire County Historical Society for barn restorations at the Arrowhead.
Executive Director Lesley Herzberg explained that because of inflation, the cost of roofing shingles caused the organization to need about $5,600 more to complete the roof.
She added that the situation is becoming dire because of the roof's condition, as it has leaked and damaged the security system.
"And I do also just want to make the point that the Historical Society will not be asking for any grants in the 2022 cycle," she said. "I'm sure in the future we'll have some more projects to present but right now where we're trying to finish the two big projects on our plate and this being one of them, so I do appeal to this committee to look at this as just a little bit more a bump up in that grant and we would certainly appreciate it and it would let the project be completed by the end of this year."
The commission voted to award the historic society with $6,000 in additional funding for a buffer in cases prices go up even higher.
According to the Community Preservation Coalition, the project received $25,000 in CPA funds for the barn project in 2019.
Applications for CPA funding are due by 3 p.m. on Nov. 5.
Projects that include city-owned property must have support or endorsement from a city body as part of the application. Projects that require endorsement from a city body to determine eligibility must do so prior to eligibility decisions at the Historical Commission meeting on Nov. 15 and the Parks Commission meeting on Nov. 16.