By Maura Keene
The Community Preservation Act Committee (CPAC) received 13 requests for funding for the next fiscal year. The committee began hearing presentations about the requests on November 9 and will meet almost weekly for the rest of the year to discuss which proposals to accept and how much to allocate to each one. Typically, the committee has about $1 to $1.5 million available, plus it can borrow money as it did to purchase a Belchertown Road property for affordable housing.
Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds come from a 3% surcharge on local property taxes and are to be used for affordable housing, historic preservation, and recreation/open space. The state legislature passed the Community Preservation Act in 2000. Amherst adopted it at its 2001 Annual Town Election, established a Community Preservation Act Committee (CPAC), and authorized the town to levy a 1% surcharge on property tax bills to raise funds to address community housing, historic preservation, and recreation/open space needs. By accepting the CPA, Amherst became eligible to receive state funds that match a percentage of the funds raised locally each year. In 2015, residents voted to increase the levy to the maximum allowed of 3%. Amherst chose to exempt the first $100,000 of assessed value of each property from the surcharge.
Applications were due September 30. During the next few weeks, applicants will present their requests to the committee. Recommendations for funding from the CPA committee will be forwarded to the Town Council in early 2024. In FY 2024, the committee had requests for over $8 million in grants and awarded $2.8 million for 13 projects. The proposals submitted for FY 2025 total only $2,437,136. They are:
- Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust: $500,000 for development funds
- Town of Amherst: $275,000 for pre-development assessment of town-owned land on Strong Street and the former VFW site on Main Street.
- East Amherst Local Historic District Study Committee, Amherst Local Historic District Commission: $20,000. East Amherst was the original downtown of Amherst and contains over 50 historic properties. Request is to hire a consultant to research, inventory, photograph, and document the properties in the proposed local historic district.
- Amherst Historical Society: $74,350 to fund a survey of architectural and structural conditions of the Simeon Strong House in preparation for the Jones Library construction project and to recommend upgrades to increase the accessibility of the building.
- Amherst Zion Church Roof Repairs: $177,911. Repairs to the roof structure, eaves, and slate roof of the North Amherst Church. The congregation has received three bids for the work and will contribute to the project through fundraising.
- Town of Amherst, Repair of North and South Cemeteries: $150,000. To conserve, restore, and repair a minimum of 125 gravestones and a small number of monuments in the North and South Amherst cemeteries.
- District One Neighborhood Association, Mill River Historic Trail: $46,875 for two half-time positions for six months — an archivist to find missing information and a project manager editor to create accessible material from that information. The group is also seeking grants to supplement this request.
- Michael and Kimberley Como, historic house move: $98,000 for moving their home farther from Route 9 onto a new foundation. The house, at 260 Northampton Road, was built in 1860, and is on the edge of the Westside Historic District.
- Town of Amherst DPW, Kiwanis Park Pickleball Courts: $100,000 to supplement the FY2023 CPA grant to select a location and design two public pickleball courts.
- Town of Amherst DPW, Mill River Tennis Court Rehabilitation: $60,000 to repair the courts and reinsert the net posts
- Town of Amherst DPW, Rehabilitation of Softball Fields: $85,000 to regrade and rehabilitate the softball fields at Kiwanis Park, Groff Park, and Community Field, replace bleachers at Community Field, and repair a backstop at Groff Park.
- Town of Amherst DPW, Revitalization of War Memorial area: $750,000 to produce a final design and construction documents for replacement of the bathhouse and repair of surrounding recreation facilities, such as the basketball court and playground. The town will apply for grants to supplement CPA funds. Preliminary design was completed with CPA funds
- Town of Amherst Conservation Department, Trail Restoration and Enhancement: $100,000 for materials and equipment rental for improvement of trails throughout Amherst.
The CPA committee meets by Zoom on Thursday evenings. No future meetings are on the town calendar as of today.