Latest round of CPA requests total $2.43 million in Amherst 

  • The Jones Library in Amherst STAFF FILE PHOTO/KEN HEIDEL

Staff Writer
Published: 10/29/2020 4:57:34 PM

AMHERST — Renovations to historic municipal buildings and long-anticipated improvements to the North Common and Main Street parking lot in front of Town Hall are among $2.43 million in proposals seeking Community Preservation Act money.

In addition to requests to support affordable housing initiatives, $1 million for the build-out of a new special collections room at the Jones Library will again be reviewed by the CPA Committee. The special collections room is part of a $35.6 million renovation and expansion project.

The committee anticipates having recommendations brought to the Town Council in January.

Requests for major building repairs are coming from Jeremiah LaPlante, the town’s facilities and maintenance manager. One of these is $408,500 for fixing the slate roofs at Town Hall, Munson Memorial Library, and the North Amherst School.

“Repairing and replacing the slate roofs ensure the historic integrity and appearance of the three town buildings,” LaPlante wrote in the application.

Another $265,000 is needed for restoring the historic stone steps at the main entrance to Town Hall and the emergency entrance on the south side of the building.

A long-delayed project to rehabilitate the North Common, the greenspace in front of Town Hall originally to have commenced in 2018, will depend on adding $500,000. The town would have close to $2 million on hand, if the money is approved.

“The project will preserve a revered part of the historic Town Common, onto which the historic Town Hall, Grace Episcopal Church, Grace Church Parish House and the 19th century buildings along South Pleasant Street front,” states the application, submitted by Senior Planner Christine Brestrup. “The project will also preserve a number of the historic trees on the North Common along with the historic Woman’s Christian Temperance Union fountain.”

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said it is time to bring back the plans, which were last presented as part of a Destination Amherst initiative to bring more visitors to downtown prior to the pandemic.

Department of Public Works Superintendent Guilford Mooring is asking for $40,000 that would shore up the south wall of the North Amherst Library, weakened during previous alterations to the building.

Removing and replacing the aging pavilion at Groff Park next to the Fort River would cost $45,000, while $65,000 would go to repair the main swimming pool at Mill River Recreation Area.

For affordable housing, the Amherst Municipal Housing Affordable Housing Trust is asking for $800,000 for development projects, such as to assist in the possible reuse of the East Street School for affordable apartments, and extension and expansion of an emergency rental assistance program.

“We anticipate that the major share of funds would be spent to support a developer, following a detailed application and careful review by the Housing Trust,” the trust wrote in its application.

Amherst Community Connections is seeking funding for four to six housing vouchers for chronically homeless individuals, at a cost of $151,140 to $226,710, and the District One Neighborhood Association is asking for $51,500 for an archeological heritage study of woodlands along trails from Mill River Recreation Area to the Cushman Common. There, cellar holes and retaining walls from long-gone mills, most of which had closed by the 1920s, and the Cushman Clam Club, a place where local parties and weddings were held, would be catalogued.

Finally, officials at Goodwin Church are seeking $12,000 to supplement $12,500 already raised as part of “Restoring Goodwin.” The money would be used to maintain the historic building by reshingling the roof, rebuilding the chimney and adding insulation to the attic and walls.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at


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