| G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD – Do you have a project that would acquire and create open space, recreation land, historic resources or community housing? The Community Preservation Committee wants to hear for you.
Robert McCarroll, the chair of the city’s Community Preservation Committee has announced the committee is ready to start accepting preliminary applications for projects during its first funding cycle.
McCarroll said the preliminary applications could be sent or dropped off to the city’s budget office on the fourth floor of City Hall.
The deadline for the preliminary applications will be the end of March. By June 1, the committee will make a determination which projects should move forward in the approval process and will be invited to submit a full application. The committee then plans to make a recommendation on the selected projects in September to the City Council for final approval.
The preliminary application is just a one-page description, McCarroll explained. It does not require a budget or renderings.
Voters in the city approved the adoption of the Community Preservation Act (CPA) in 2016. The CPA is funded by a 1.5 percent surcharge on property taxes.
McCarroll explained to Reminder Publications the initial budget of the committee has been determined by the Assessors Department to be $705,000, which he described as a conservative estimate. By law, he added, 10 percent of the sum must be directed projects for historic preservation, 10 percent for open and recreation space and 10 percent for community housing. Five percent of the fund can be used for administration.
Low income or elderly property owners can apply for an exemption to the surcharge, but McCarroll does not know at this time how many people would seek one.
The members of the committee are Lamar Cook, Neighborhood representative; Gloria DeFillipo, Planning Board representative; Juanita Martinez, Conservation Commission representative; McCarroll, chair and Springfield Preservation Trust representative; Terry Mitchell, Neighborhood representative; Benjamin Murphy, Historical Commission representative; Angela Robles, Housing Authority representative; Brian Santaniello, Park Commission representative; and Ralph Slate, vice chair and Neighborhood representative.
Examples of possible projects were described in the committee’s plan and at a public meeting on Oct. 3, 2017. At that meeting the following was suggested:
• Zaida Govan of the Indian Orchard Citizen Council would like to see Godfrey Triangle and its World War I Memorial revitalized.
• Betsy Johnson of the Food Policy Council said funds were needed for fences, soil, and water lines to create community gardens. She said that the minimum cost per space would be $1,000 to $2,500. She then spoke as a member of Walk/Bike Springfield on maintenance of Riverwalk. Paving repair, overgrowth control, signage, and a southern exit are needed. Also, converting the abandoned rail line in McKnight to a walk/bike trail needs money for design in order to access state construction funding.
• Ben Quick, director of Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club stated Riverfront Park needs improvement and improved river access with a dock and ramp are needed.
• Colleen Moynihan of Campus Neighbors of Sixteen Acres said that Breckwood Pond and Venture Pond need attention for outdoor space and in order to make them attractive to wildlife.
• Doug Johnson stated that invasive plants on parts of the Riverwalk make it nearly unusable. Forest Park needs treatment of invasive plants also.
The recently releases plan identifies historic buildings that could benefit from renovation project as well as the need for additional owner-occupied housing as well as affordable housing.