A Good Start – Community Preservation Recommends Five Projects in First Round of Funding

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.

Excerpt from – 

A Good Start – Community Preservation Recommends Five Projects in First Round of Funding

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