Rehabbing historic monuments and buildings and establishing a community garden are among the first projects the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) will be recommending to the City Council during their initial pilot round of Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding.
Monday night, the CPC recommended approval of funding for five projects, and tabled two other proposals until May so they can get more information on them.
The projects recommended by the CPC Monday night included money for the rehabilitation of the city’s Civil War monument, improvements to the Garden Cemetery, a Marlborough Street Community Garden proposed by The Neighborhood Developers (TND), and renovation of the Governor Bellingham-Cary House.
The two proposals that were tabled until more information could be gathered were for renovations to the Congregation Agudath Shalom Museum (Walnut Street Synagogue) and for the city to hire an Affordable Housing Trust Fund housing specialist on a one-year contract basis.
Each of the proposals generated debate to its merits, with members keeping an eye on the potential that future years will feature requests with potentially larger impacts on the CPA fund.
Chelsea voters approved the adoption of the CPA in November 2016. It will provide hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to be used for the creation and acquisition of affordable housing, historic preservation, open space and recreation. The CPA trust fund currently has a balance of just over $2.2 million.
The projects that could be funded during the initial pilot round are capped at $50,000 each. The total of the seven proposals that came before the CPC is just under $270,000, according to CPC Chair Jose Iraheta.
The pilot round of funding is not only a way to get out the word about CPA funding, but also gives the CPC an opportunity to work out the best method for recommendation of the projects, Iraheta said. The CPC can make recommendations for projects, but the funding is ultimately approved by the City Council.
“There’s so much we have to do to educate the community and have them understand what this is all about,” said CPC member Bea Cravatta. “This is a good amount of money that can change the city in a positive way.”
Key among the factors CPC members weigh in considering recommendation for a project is its community support, benefit to the city’s vulnerable populations, matching funds from the project’s proponents, and how it fits into Chelsea’s overall Master Plan.
“I believe that little pieces like this are important to the community and to people of all income levels,” CPC member Tuck Willis said of the Civil War monument rehab. “Seeing a decaying monument is not good for anyone. A neater, cleaner, spiffier look is better for everyone.”
Improvements to the Garden Cemetery also got high marks from many of the CPC members.
“This is a fantastic project that strongly aligns with our leading and supporting principles,” said CPC Vice Chair Caroline Ellenbird.
Cravatta and CPC member Juan Vega both supported the project but said they would like to see some more ideas about how the community at large could make more use of the space.
The two projects with the most questions about them were tabled to give Karl Allen of the planning department time to gather more information for the CPC.
Vega and Willis both said they both had concerns about CPA funds being used to fund a staff position for the city with the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. CPC members also had questions about funding and budget specifics for rehab of the Congregation Agudath Shalom Museum.