WE ARE HOMETOWN NEWS.

NORTHAMPTON — The Northampton City Council unanimously approved nine Community Preservation Act funding requests totaling over $1.4 million during its June 20 regular meeting.

The approval comes after the council’s Finance Committee and Community Preservation Committee each presented a positive recommendation for the nine projects.

“All of these are good projects,” said Council President Alex Jarrett during the June 20 meeting.

Among the CPA funding requests approved by the council were $720,000 for Ryan Road School Playground for All project, $300,000 for critical repairs and rehabilitation to Memorial Hall and $200,000 to Valley Community Development for an affordable housing project at 27 Crafts Ave.

Background

In January 2024, the CPC began reviewing project proposals submitted for CPA funding consideration. After extensive review, which included applicant presentations, site visits, extensive public comment sessions and deliberation, the committee landed on the nine funding requests.

According to a letter to the council from the CPC, the projects that were selected include all eligible CPA project areas including recreation, historic preservation, recreation, affordable housing and open space preservation.

“CPA funds are a special revenue fund that is separate from the city’s general budget and can only be allocated to eligible community preservation projects,” said Sarah LaValley, the assistant director of Planning and Sustainability.

Since the CPA was adopted in 2005 by Northampton, CPA funds have been allocated to 175 projects within the city, according to LaValley, including the creation of more than 200 units of affordable housing, miles of multi-use trails and new recreational fields and the restoration of more than 30 historic resources and structures.
The funding requests for this round of CPA funding was first introduced to the City Council during its June 6 meeting before being sent to the finance committee for consideration.

Playground For All

The $720,000 Ryan Road project will go toward the creation of an inclusive playground at RK Finn Ryan Road School.

According to the order, a new playground is necessary to replace the existing playground that will soon no longer be usable due to age-related corrosion and surface failure.

“The project will create a playground that is accessible and inclusive to all, including children and caregivers of varying cognitive, sensory and social and emotional abilities,” read the order, which also stated that the project has garnered interest from many in the community.

During the finance committee meeting on June 11, Ward 6 City Councilor and finance committee member Marianne LaBarge read a letter she sent to the CPC that expressed unwavering support for the project.

“I agree that the old and damaged playground at Ryan Road Elementary School should be replaced with an all-inclusive playground for all,” LaBarge said. “By fostering a playground for all at Ryan Road Elementary School where every voice is heard, every perspective is valued, and every opportunity is accessible, important, accessible. I feel it strives to create a future that shines bright for all, inspiring generations to come.”

At-Large City Councilor and finance committee member Marissa Elkins agreed with LaBarge’s sentiments in her comments to the rest of the finance committee.

“It’s a great project,” Elkins said. “I think it’s a very appropriate use of CPA funds.”

Reminder Publishing wrote an extensive story about this project which can be found in the June 27 edition or online at https://tinyurl.com/bdebcspv.

Memorial Hall repairs

For this project, the proposed $300,000 will go toward critical repairs and rehabilitation to Memorial Hall, including exterior foundation waterproofing, masonry work and flashing and repointing.

With this appropriation approved, it is now the second time council voted in favor of appropriating money for emergency repairs to the historic building, which currently houses many departments including Veterans Services, Human Resources, Mail Services, Northampton Public Schools Central Services and Arts and Culture central services.

In March, the council approved $426,218 for emergency repairs after a recent report from Gale Architects found “escalating structural issues” in the building.

According to LaValley, the $300,000 is partial funding for a much more substantial request of several million dollars.

“There’s an incredible amount of work to be done at Memorial Hall,” LaValley said. “The CPC was able to see that firsthand in a site visit. There’s a multitude of issues that Central Services were able to highlight, and this is an approximate match to the stabilization funds that were allocated in the spring and will allow those funds to go a little bit further and get a little bit more work done.”

Readers can learn more about the project through past Reminder Publishing coverage at https://tinyurl.com/9eykxn24.

27 Crafts Ave.

The $200,000 for this project will be used to create 20 fossil fuel-free affordable units behind City Hall.

According to the order, the CPA funds will leverage significant funds from a variety of sources, including an already-received $921,300 Municipal Vulnerability Program grant, and anticipated additional state grants and low income and renewable energy tax credits.

“I really love this project,” Elkins said during the finance meeting. “I think it’s a great example of the city walking the walk.”

Construction for the project is expected to begin in 2026. Readers can learn more about the project from past coverage at https://tinyurl.com/ymcc73cp.

Other recommended CPA funding approved by the council

CPA funding was also approved for Habitat for Humanity’s project to create an energy efficient affordable house, as well as for invasive species removal at Lathrop Community, an affordable housing monitor, a local agricultural preservation restriction program, a downtown park design and for Historic Northampton’s Parsons and Shepherd House project.

Readers can learn more about those projects by visiting the orders in the June 20 council agenda.