Northampton to distribute $1.4M in CPA funds to 10 projects

Staff Writer
Published: 12/3/2021 5:57:00 PM
Modified: 12/3/2021 5:56:27 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The City Council voted Thursday to appropriate $1.4 million in Community Preservation Act funds to 10 projects, boosting efforts to house disabled homeless people, acquire open space, create public pickleball courts and more.

On Nov. 23, the Community Preservation Committee recommended the projects for CPA funding, and the council approved all of them. By far, the largest appropriation went to the newly formed nonprofit Independent Housing Solutions, founded in August by Dr. Jessica Bossie of Springfield Health Services for the Homeless.

The council awarded $608,000 to Independent Housing Solutions “to help create a supportive but independent housing facility for 16 medically complex and chronically homeless individuals at 5 Franklin Street,” as described in a letter to the Council from Brian Adams, chair of the CPC.

Before the money is released, Independent Housing Solutions will need to provide to the city an affordable housing restriction that will limit availability to people earning 100% of area median income or less, or a mortgage that could be released if the CPA funds are returned with principal and simple interest.

“The project serves a desperate local and regional need and has widespread support,” the order reads.

CPA funds are generated through a surcharge on property tax bills that are matched by a state contribution.

Conservation, Preservation and Land Use Planner Sarah LaValley said the CPC heard “the most support they’ve heard for any project ever,” and that the effort “is being driven by those with a great deal of passion and experience for the work.”

The city’s Office of Planning and Sustainability received two CPA appropriations: $100,000 to create an accessible soft-surface loop trail at the Pine Grove section of the Rocky Hill Greenway; and $70,000 to match a state grant for an accessible trail connection to the beach at the Connecticut River Greenway on Damon Road.

The Conservation Commission received $228,301 to permanently protect three open space parcels totaling 64 acres in the Mineral Hills conservation area, Parsons Brook Greenway and Saw Mill Hills.

Valley Community Development Corporation was awarded $230,100 to fund a mortgage subsidy program. The money will be used to give four, $50,000 down payment and closing cost assistance loans to help low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers purchase homes in Northampton, Adams’ letter reads.

“These will help close the gap between typical home prices and the amount of housing debt than a low or moderate income household can support and create homeownership opportunities,” he wrote.

Other awards are going to fund:

■Restoration of the facade of the downtown building that houses Michelson Galleries, known as the 1913 Northampton National Bank Building. The council appropriated $82,900 to match a state historic grant.

■Historic Northampton’s effort to restore 50 artifacts using its $31,922 in funds. The artifacts include antique Northampton business signs, sleighs, tools and weather vanes, and will become publicly accessible for the first time in three decades. The artifacts will be displayed in the Shepherd Barn, which is estimated to have been built in the early 1800s.

■Grow Food Northampton will use its $20,000 in CPA funds to create more community garden plots and edible hedgerows, and to reclaim farm field edges.

■The Parks and Recreation Department will spend $13,000 to hire a landscape and engineering consultant to recommend five possible locations for a public pickleball facility.

“Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in America and the project has widespread community support,” reads the order authorizing the CPA spending.

■The Lathrop Communities received $3,000 to continue invasive plant removal and to promote native habitats along Bassett Brook on their Florence Road campus, and at the North Campus on Bridge Road. The city holds conservation restrictions on both properties, and public access is allowed, according to Adams’ letter.

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