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Pittsfield CPA Committee Sees 9 Applications Totaling $860K
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
04:15AM / Saturday, December 03, 2022
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Oak Hill Apartments has the largest request of $300,000 as part of a $10 million upgrade of the low-income housing project.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Community Preservation Committee in December will review nine eligibility applications for open space and recreation, historic preservation, and community housing projects.

The total ask for Community Preservation Act funding is around $859,000 with requests ranging from $8,000 to $300,000.  

Six of the applications are from the city for parks projects and $150,000 to support the Affordable Housing Trust that was established over the summer.

Earlier this month, the committee supported a $50,000 out-of-cycle application for the so-called "Saw Mill property" acquisition that will preserve more than 50 acres of conservation land along the southwest branch of the Housatonic River.

The panel will determine if these nine projects are eligible for CPA funding on December 12 in a virtual meeting.

The current CPA budget for fiscal 2023 is a little over $809,000 based on an estimate of $450,000 generated from the local surcharge and about $152,000 matched by the state. There is also $206,000 in carryover funds from the previous fiscal year.

City Planner CJ Hoss, who moves over to the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission next week, explained that it is expected to increase based on the actuals from the tax collector for the whole fiscal year and from the state surplus.

The budget will likely increase by $20,000 to $30,000. This makes fully funding all eligible applications feasible.

"This number could easily be close to $900,000 by the time we have those updated numbers," Hoss said to the committee on Monday.

The largest funding request for this year is for $300,000 to support a nearly $10 million upgrade to the Oak Hill Apartments on Crane Avenue. This would help the property construct a new accessible office, repair its network of walkways to make them Americans With Disabilities Act compliant, and upgrade four units to make them also fully ADA-accessible.

The rehabilitation would preserve 25 percent of the units as three-bedroom and four-bedroom units — which the applicant says is a critical need in Pittsfield — and affordability would be preserved and enhanced with eight units at 30 percent, 11 at 60 percent, and 18 at 80 percent of the area median income.

The complex consists of 61 units of one to four-bedroom units. Over 80 percent of renters at Oak Hill Apartments have restricted incomes.

Another large ask is from Roots & Dreams and Mustard Seeds Inc. for $200,000. The nonprofit aims to empower vulnerable community members through economic participation and ownership opportunities.

The organization is seeking funds to rehab a donated building into a community support and educational facility with at an estimated cost of about $572,000. Costs include roof, plumbing, electrical, and foundational work as well as a second egress for an upper-floor apartment.

The Pittsfield Historical Commission is submitting a $25,000 on behalf of the Friends of Osceola (Park) group to "rediscover the Lost Mill Villages of West Pittsfield" with a number of interpretive signs.

The friends group would like to highlight the 19th-century industrial landscape of that area, which they say has been "largely lost." They propose signs at 730 West Housatonic St., Osceola Park, Hungerford Street Lower Barkerville and the Osceola River Flouring Mill, Stearns School, Berkshire Environmental Action Team's Environmental Research and Education Center on Chapel Street, and the Barkerville Conservation area.

Pittsfield adopted a CPA plan in 2017 and since fiscal 2018, about $2.7 million has been allocated to 62 projects with around $1.4 million for 35 historic resources projects, about $595,000 for 21 open space and recreation projects, and $681,000 for six community housing projects.

Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath highlighted how CPA funds have aided Pittsfield parks over the years, including a $75,000 allocation to Springside House to hire a historic preservation architect and develop exterior improvement plans and restoration, a $50,000 allocation for work on the Springside House's 72 windows, and work on the historic West Part Cemetery.

Both of the Springside House allocations were leveraged with capital funds. The city is now moving into an interior renovation of the house, working with a half-million dollar grant from the National Park Service that will also be matched with city capital funds.

"Thank you for your really great involvement in what we're trying to do here to build a robust park system and the best in the Berkshires," McGrath said. "I think we're getting there if we're not there already. There's a lot more work to do and I hope that we can keep working together because I think we've got a lot of opportunity here."

Berkshire County Historical Society President Cynthia Brown also expressed her gratitude for the CPA funds, which included reconstructing a stone wall at Herman Melville's Arrowhead (the society's headquarters), improvements to Arrowhead's barn, and a historic structure report.

Pittsfield CPA FY23 eligibility applications:

  • Berkshire Regional Planning Commission: $32,450 for the Wilson Park rehabilitation
  • Pittsfield Department of Community Development: $8,000 for Park Square tree plantings; $150,00 for the Affordable Housing Trust; $45,000 for Egremont Elementary School playground; $74,500 for an Onota Lake boat wash station, and $24,000 for the Springside Pier preservation
  • Oak Hill-Hallkeen Management: $300,000 for Oak Hill Apartments
  • Pittsfield Historical Commission: $25,000 for the Lost Mill Villages
  • Roots & Dream and Mustard Seeds: $200,000 for a building rehabilitation
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