Community Preservation Committee revises application process

Deadlines are a drag.

That’s why the Chelsea Community Preservation Committee has revised their process with a rolling deadline throughout the year, and they’re ready to start taking applications now for about $1 million in funding available.

Chair Caroline Ellenbird announced the Committee is ready to start accepting applications for a new, more flexible round of funds.

“We put a lot of work into adjusting our application,” she said. “The idea of the pilot round last year was to try things out and to create everything from scratch…We saw that there are a number of communities that do a rolling application. We have now adopted a rolling application process too….There’s a lot of restrictions in the state law about what the funds can be used for. It’s not always user friendly.”

Previously, the program was set up where applicants could apply once a year for projects that met the criteria, which is an interested group or organization in Chelsea that has an idea for an improvement project in the areas of affordable housing, open space/recreation or historic preservation. The process was restrictive, and there was flexibility to change that.

The first round of funding used $270,000 in a pilot program to work out the kinks, along with contributing to the restoration of the City Hall Dome. Then another round using $1.25 million was embarked upon, but COVID hit and the Committee was able to help the community greatly by designating the money to be used for the COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program.

Now, they have about $1.25 million still in the coffers – as monies had accrued in good measure from the time the program went into effect until the time that the Committee gave out its first awards.

Despite giving out the $1.25 million to the Rental Assistance, Ellenbird said there is plenty to award to eligible projects in this rolling funding round.

“We do have some flexibility, meaning that $1.25 million could be used in this round without really using up all our funds. Our goal is to disperse around $1 million per year going forward.”

A new caveat is a pre-eligibility form, which helps to week out projects that aren’t eligible or need to be sharpened a bit. Those interested can now fill out a project eligibility form as a first step in the application process. Once deemed eligible, applicants will be invited to make a full application for funding.

“I think at this point we have the ability to do this,” she said. “We’re going to try it and hopefully get some good applications and inspire people to do some good things for people in Chelsea.”

Both the plan and the eligibility form are available on the Committee’s website: https://www.chelseama.gov/community-preservation-committee.

The Community Preservation Committee was formed after the voters overwhelmingly approved the Community Preservation Act on the ballot a few years ago. The state program allows the City to put an extra tax surcharge on some property owners, and that collection is matched in part by the state.

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