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Northampton City Council to consider six community preservation projects

NORTHAMPTON — Six Community Preservation Act projects totaling $412,400 will go before the City Council for funding Thursday, with nearly half going toward kick-starting site work for a new community boathouse on the Connecticut River off Damon Road.

Other projects being recommended by the Community Preservation Committee include restoration of a memorial fountain on the former state hospital grounds, construction of a baseball diamond at Veterans’ Field and invasive plant removal at the Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area.

The CPC chose not to fund two projects: a $42,000 request from Valley Community Development Corp. for a foreclosure prevention program, and a $242,000 request from the city’s Central Services Department to paint the exterior trim, doors, windows and facades of the municipal building campus downtown.

Of the projects recommended, the Connecticut River Greenway project is by far the largest at $190,000. Earlier this year, the city acquired about half of a 23-acre site off Damon Road just north of the River Run Condominiums as part of a public-private partnership with Lane Construction Co.

About half of those 11 acres belong to the Recreation Commission, which plans to construct a boathouse on the site. The other half is protected from development and is under control of the Conservation Commission.

The CPA money would be used as the local match for a state Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant which the city applied for earlier this year. Work under this $620,000 first phase involves construction of docks, a pathway along the river, a parking area and access to the historic New Haven and Northampton Canal.

Lane Construction would retain the other half of the 23-acre site. Plans call for a three-building business park with up to 40,000 square feet of space.

Other CPA projects include:

∎ A $75,000 request from the State Hospital Memorialization Committee to rehabilitate a cast-iron fountain once located in front of the main building on the Northampton State Hospital campus. Plan call for the Victorian-style fountain to be reinstalled in a “pocket park” on Village Hill that will honor the former hospital’s patients and employees.

∎ The Conservation Commission has asked for $60,000 toward a conservation fund that enables the commission to act quickly on real estate that would protect open space and agricultural parcels in the city.

∎ A $45,000 request from the Recreation Commission to renovate the baseball field at Veterans’ Field on West Street. The project calls for construction of a 90-foot baseball diamond that was relocated when the skate park was created.

∎ A $35,000 request from the city’s Conservation and Agricultural commissions for a program designed to preserve city farmland through the purchase of agricultural protection restrictions on agricultural properties.

∎ A $7,400 request from the Broad Brook Coalition for invasive plant control at Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area. The money would allow the coalition to continue efforts to control and eliminate several species of invasive plants that are damaging habitats essential to the health of native wildlife and plants.

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