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Northampton Community Preservation proposals include City Hall repairs 


Northampton City Hall is shown.

FILE PHOTO

Northampton City Hall is shown. FILE PHOTO Purchase photo reprints »

— There may soon be funding for repairs to Northampton City Hall and to support a new housing fund to help homeless people rent apartments.

The Northampton Community Preservation Committee unanimously recommended the two projects during its April 3 meeting. Now the proposals go before City Council when it meets Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Puchalski Municipal Building.

The committee recommended that the city’s Central Services Department receive $95,000 in CPA funds for a project that includes the repair and replacement of damaged trim and surface materials on City Hall. It also would cover the repair of damaged and missing stucco and the painting of the exterior.

City Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. CPA funds may be expended on open space, historic preservation, affordable housing and outdoor recreation.

The committee also recommended that $10,000 be given to ServiceNet, an organization that provides a wide range of human services to people in the Pioneer Valley, for a new housing fund.

The fund will be used to help homeless individuals secure apartments by loaning them an approved percentage of the first and last month’s rent and the security deposit. In information provided by ServiceNet to the committee, $10,000 is thought to be able to provide help for approximately 15 homeless people.

In its application, ServiceNet stated that these up-front costs are often a major barrier to homeless individuals working to transition to permanent housing.

In 2012, ServiceNet received $5,000 from the Friends of the Homeless to provide either first or last month’s rent, and was able to house 17 individuals, 15 of whom are still housed.

Conservation, Preservation and Land Use Planner Sarah LaValley said in a telephone interview Tuesday that City Council has never failed to approve the committee’s recommendations in the past, but it is up to the council to make the final decision.

“The City Hall preservation project addresses repairs that haven’t been done in a number of years, and it is a significant building for our community. The committee also felt that the housing fund met an unmet need,” LaValley said.

The committee also expressed support for two projects that were not funded this round. Funds were requested for design services for the rehabilitation of Pulaski Park and for window replacement at Forbes Library.

The committee had questions and concerns that were unable to be answered during this funding round, but encouraged the projects to be resubmitted in the future. A funding request for the Connecticut River Greenway was withdrawn.

Voters in Northampton approved the Community Preservation Act in 2005. It allows the city to collect money through a surcharge on property tax to support various recreation, housing and preservation projects.

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