Mayor Marty Walsh and the Community Preservation Committee recommended 35 projects that total $8,035,055 as part of the spring pilot round for the Community Preservation Act. The 35 chosen applicants were invited to testify at a Community Preservation Committee hearing on Monday, June 18. The appropriation order was unanimously approved at a city council hearing on June 20, eliciting applause from the chambers.
Mayor Walsh said in March that applications were available for a pilot program for projects for CPA funding, according to a press release from the mayor’s office.
City of Boston CFO Emme Handy said at the hearing on Monday night that there were three areas of eligibility to receive funding: affordable housing, historic preservation, and parks and open space.
“The Community Preservation Act is a new tool that will help take our work on affordable housing, historic preservation, and open space to the next level,” Mayor Walsh said in the press release. “I am proud to recommend these important projects for funding approval, which represent a wide range of needs and will build strong neighborhoods throughout our city.”
Christine Poff, community preservation director, said at the hearing that a total of 58 applications were received for the pilot, with a request of about $14 million total. “We chose…based on the requirements that the committee put out: shovel ready, a final gap, meeting a significant need, and making a real difference in Boston,” Poff said. “The committee chose to do this pilot because they wanted to test and review our materials and our process before we go into a really big funding round.”
The 35 chosen projects are split into 12 historic preservation projects, 13 recreational use/open space projects, three affordable housing projects, and seven blended projects.
Poff said that some projects were not funded because they were not shovel ready, did not fund a gap, there was other funding, or they were not eligible under state law. Some were also a matter of policy that the committee had not “wrestled with yet,” Poff said, “like a community garden that’s locked all the time.”
Every Boston neighborhood was represented in the final recommendations except Mattapan and Charlestown, Poff said. She said applications were not received from those neighborhoods, but the committee is working with them in anticipation that they will be part of the next round of funding.
Poff also said that the 35 projects chosen “are really varied.”
“We wanted to show a lot of model projects so the community members who are thinking about what kind of project they might propose for funding could see the wide range of things that CPA can support,” said Poff.
The smallest funding request out of the chosen projects was for $5,000, and the largest was for $500,000, which Poff said was the committee’s limit for this round.
Four projects were chosen from the downtown neighborhoods, including the Church of the Covenant and Emmanuel Church in the Back Bay. Betsy Groves from the Church of the Covenant said they are asking for funds to complete “critical” repairs to the church, including fixing the masonry and roof on the side of the church that runs along Newbury Street.
Groves also said that the church’s 42 Tiffany windows are at risk. The church was built in 1865 and received National Landmark status in 2012, Groves said. The church is seeking $430,000 for the repairs.
Groves said that they’re “delighted to have reached the final round,” and cited this money as “critical funding” for the church.
“The church is a great asset to the community,” said Lucy Williams from the church.
The Church of the Covenant houses the Women’s Lunch Place, community chorus Coro Allegro, and is used five to seven times a week for AA and Al-Anon meetings, Groves said.
She said that years of deferred maintenance and the 2015 snowstorms caused water damage in various places in the building. For the past 15 years, Groves said they’ve been working to raise funds for different pieces of the renovation, but the funds from the pilot program would allow them to completely seal the building.
“We will finally have a building that is sealed to the elements that allows us to protect our priceless sanctuary and other treasures of the building from damage,” Groves said. “But more than this, it allows us as a congregation to continue our work in the city of Boston.”
The Emmanuel Church is seeking $306,700 for repairs to its doors and a portion of the roof. Mike Scanlon, Chair of the Building Commission at the church, said that about 1,500 people a week are served in programs that the church houses.
He said that 17 different 12-step programs, as well as the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, Common Art, and Back Bay Chorale, just to name a few, “go in and out of our ancient doors and they’re falling apart.”
Scanlon said they have been working for 15 years “nibbling away at this building,” and they are looking for help and support to fix the doors and the last piece of roof that needs to be repaired.
The Westland Gateway is asking for $200,000 for the restoration of the Westland Avenue Gateway and repairs to the Johnson Memorial Gates. Marie Fukuda, a board member of the Fenway Civic Association, said that this project is an example of a blended project, as it is both a historic preservation with the Johnson Gates, as well as recreational use/open space.
In 2014, the Johnson Memorial Gates were deemed an endangered resource because of “significant structural degradation and the parklands similarly has remained unrepaired for decades,” Fukuda said. She also said that there are paths going through the park that lead to a wheelchair-accessible building, but they cannot be crossed in their current state.
Fukuda said that these funds would “secure the complete stabilization of the monument, the complete restoration of the park, and the greatly needed improvements to pathways and access to the Back Bay Fens.”
“We see this project as a poster child for what CPA funds can do for communities, helping realize improvements to historic structures and open space that otherwise would remain incomplete for neighborhoods and communities,” Fukuda said. “These repairs benefit all those who live, work, and visit the Fenway.”
The South End House, which serves more than 100 children per day, is asking for $46,260 for roof repairs. A pipe burst in January and repairs to the roof are critical, said Ken Kruckemeyer, a board member of United South End Settlements. City Councilor Kim Janey said that she has gone to the South End House on several occasions, calling the space “beautiful” and said that she “would certainly put in my two cents to support this proposal.”
The projects that require less than $500,000 are to begin construction by this fall, and the mayor will make the next round of applications available in the fall as well, according to the press release.