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.

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Community Preservation Projects Ready to Get Underway

Community Preservation Projects Ready to Get Underway

The deadline to apply for the pilot round of grant funding for Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds is fast approaching, with eligibility forms for potential projects due to City Hall by Wednesday, Feb. 13.

On Thursday, Jan. 31, the Community Preservation Committee held the first in a series of public informational sessions and application workshops centered around the draft Community Preservation Plan and the pilot round of funding. A public hearing on the plan itself is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 21 at the Chelsea Senior Center at 7 p.m.

For the pilot round only, applications will be limited to $50,000.

“We are doing this pilot program so we can get a better understanding of how the process will work and not having the committee approve huge amounts of money until we streamline the process,” said Karl Allen of the city’s Planning and Development Office.

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.

“Part of our mission is to build our capacity in the community and to build the funds,” said Allen. “We have a low bar of entry for anyone who wants to apply.”

Last week’s workshop was geared toward helping pave the way for individuals or groups who want to apply for CPA funds, or who simply are interested in seeing what types of projects are eligible for the funds.

“We want to use the taxpayer’s money in a thoughtful way,” said Anna Callahan, a community planner at JM Goldson, the City’s consultant for the Community Preservation Plan.

In addition to limiting the grants to $50,000 in the pilot program, Callahan said the CPC is looking for projects that are shovel ready by the summer or fall of this year.

The first step for anyone interested in the pilot program is to complete a one-page project eligibility form by Feb. 13. Those eligibility forms will help determine if the proposed projects could be allowed under the CPA.

The next step is a more involved application due to Allen by Wednesday, April 3.

The CPA prioritizes projects where the applicant has control over the property or land for a proposal, Callahan said.

The best tactic with those with potential project ideas is to work with Allen and the CPC, Allen said.

“Ideally, if you have an idea, you can write it up quickly on the eligibility form and you can bring it to a workshop,” Allen said.

The last informational CPA information session before the eligibility forms are due is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Chelsea Senior Center at 1 p.m.

There are also application workshops for the longer process scheduled to take place at the Chelsea Public Library on Wednesday, March 13 at 6 p.m. and on Saturday, March 23 at 1 p.m.

CPA funds can be used for community housing, historic preservation, or open space and recreation needs.

The CPC is broadly recommending that 40 percent of the funds be allocated to community housing, 15 percent to historic preservation, 25 percent to open space and recreation and 15 percent as undesignated and available for any type of project, according to CPC Chairman Jose Iraheta.

The remaining 5 percent is reserved for administrative expenses.

In addition to groups and individuals, the City is also eligible to apply for CPA funding.

The CPC must present any and all ideas before City Council for approval after creating a Community Development Plan. The City Council retains the power to approve, deny or lower the allotted funds for project ideas.

Callahan said the CPC favors projects where there is site control, demonstrated community support, an ability to implement the project, and a focus on public accessibility.

“The CPA really reflects the community’s needs,” she said.

City Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda pushed for placing the CPA on the city ballot in 2016 and said he has been closely following the CPC’s progress. “I’m thrilled that we are where we are right now,” he said.

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Community Preservation Committee Announced

Community Preservation Committee Announced

The newly established Community Preservation Committee will lead Chelsea’s use of funds provided by the Community Preservation Act (CPA).

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.

Nine members appointed to the Community Preservation Committee are: Bea Cravatta, Judith Dyer, Caroline Ellenbird, Jose Iraheta, Michelle Lopez, Yahya Noor, Ron Robinson, Juan Vega, and Tuck Willis. Five members, by statute, represent City boards and commissions. The remaining four members are appointed by the Chelsea City Manager with the following requirements for each of the seats: one seat requires expertise in open spaces, housing and/or historical preservation; one seat requires expertise in development, business, finance, and/or construction; and the two remaining seats will be for individuals with a history of community involvement.

Community Preservation Committee (CPC) members serve a three-year term in a volunteer capacity, and must be residents of Chelsea. The CPC’s primary responsibilities include: approving an administrative budget for the City’s Community Preservation program; developing an annual Community Preservation Plan; reviewing project applications and making recommendations for funding approval. Further, CPC members are required to meet with regularity and engage with community groups throughout the City as needed.

The Committee is organized by John DePriest, AICP, Director, City of Chelsea Department of Planning and Development. An RFP has been prepared to hire a Professional Planning consultant services to develop the Community Preservation Plan. The Community Preservation Committee solicits and reviews proposals for use of the Community Preservation Act funds and  makes recommendations on how funds should be used. The funding of any project requires a recommendation from the committee.

For more information go to:  https://www.chelseama.gov/community-preservation-committee.

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Community Preservation Funds Waiting for Distribution

Community Preservation Funds Waiting for Distribution

By Seth Daniel

The first-round of Community Preservation Act (CPA) money in Chelsea has been collected from the taxpayers and amounts to around $600,000 locally.

A state match under the CPA is not yet known, but it will likely be known in November.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they are estimating that the state money will likely come in at a 15 percent match of what was collected – which would be $90,000.

That would make the total CPA money available in Fiscal Year 2017 to be estimated at $690,000.

The CPA Committee has begun meeting and did meet this week, but they are still getting organized.

Soon, however, it is expected that they will begin considering requests for CPA dollars this year.

“They did meet this week, but we are still in the planning stages of getting operational,” said Ambrosino. “At some point, they will submit proposal and they will have to dole out that money.”

By statue, 10 percent of the funds each have to go to historic preservation, affordable housing and open space. The remainder can be given out at the Committee’s discretion for community needs.

The City Council has the final vote on any awards.

The electorate voted overwhelmingly last November to approve the CPA, and the City has been diligently putting it in place with an aggressive schedule over the last 10 months.

Many municipalities that approved the CPA last year are still in the early planning stages and haven’t even begun to make collections on the tax bills.

The CPA is funded by an extra collection on municipal property tax bills.

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