Boston City Council Appoints Four Members to Guide Community Preservation Act Funds

By Beth Treffeisen

The Boston City Council voted to elect four members to the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) who will work to allocate funds collected from the Community Preservation Act (CPA) at a hearing on Dec. 13.

In November 2016, Boston voters approved adoption of the CPA, which is expected to generate millions of dollars of revenue to be used for the creation and acquisition of affordable housing, historic preservation, open space and recreation.

The CPA funds are generated by a small surcharge on local property tax-bills that will be matched by a statewide trust fund to maximize the impact. The CPC will work with the community to allocate funds to various projects throughout the city.

The four Committee members include Matthew Kiefer of Jamaica Plain for a one-year term, Kannan Thiruvengadam of East Boston for a term of two years, Madeligne Tena of Dorchester for a term of three years and Ying Wang of Roslindale for a term of three years.

These finalists were selected from over 100 applications.

These four Committee members will join the five statutory appointments from Mayor Martin Walsh to form the Community Preservation Committee (CPC).

The mayor’s five appointees include Chris Cook from the Boston Conservation Commission, William Epperson from Boston Parks and Recreation Commission, Felicia Jacques from Boston Landmarks Commission, Carol Downs from the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) board, and Kate Bennett from the Boston Housing Authority.

City Councilors Andrea Campbell, Michael Flaherty and Tim McCarthy, who were on the working group to select the members, nominated the four finalists based on their past work, personal experience, and community involvement.

In addition, the working group focused to represent various demographics, business expertise and geographic location within the city.

Kiefer will be bringing his experience as an attorney focusing on real estate development and land-use law to the Committee. Through both his professional and volunteer activities he has worked in every aspect of the CPA.

“I think the CPA is an important tool to help make this city great for everyone and I look forward to being a part of it,” said Kiefer at a hearing on Dec. 5. “I feel an obligation to give back to a city that has given a lot to me.”

Thiruvengadam who has been a Boston resident for 20 years brings his experience of community advocacy in East Boston including running an urban farm and his work as a senior solution consultant at Progress Software to the CPC.

“There are a lot of threats the city faces today; partly due to economic disadvantages and others like climate threat,” said Thiruvengadam. “It is important to involve the residents who are part of the community and I am looking forward to getting involved more in the city and helping to implement the CPA.”

Tena will bring to the CPC real life experience on what it is like to go through homelessness and to search for an affordable place to live in the present market rate in Boston.

“It is a blessing and an opportunity to be part of this. I have real experience working with people on the ground to get them direct services,” said Tena. “I’ve definitely experienced a lot and definitely want to be a voice for all of those people and make sure their voices are voiced.”

Tena has professional experience as a housing and community advocate at the Mandela Residents Cooperative Association and her previous work as resident services coordinator at the Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion in the South End.

Wang will bring her experience as a senior associate at the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and her life-long residency in Boston to the table. Wang said she wanted to be part of the CPC because it gives a voice to every resident in Boston.

“For me the interest in CPC is giving back to the community, and to keeping the commitment to seeing the city flourish,” said Wang. “The CPA should reach every Boston neighborhood in a fair equitable way, and I will make sure that each proposal is considered and given equal weight.”

Mayor Martin Walsh appointed Christine Poff, as director of the CPC this past July. She will be responsible for training members of the CPC and running the operations behind allocating the funding.

Poff previously worked as the political director of the National Association of Social Workers, where she advocated for economic and social justice bills at the Massachusetts State House and continues to be a community advocate in her neighborhood of Jamaica Plain.

At the Dec. 13 City Council hearing, Mayor Martin Walsh submitted an order to appropriate just over $285,000 for the administrative and operating expenses of the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) for July 1 through June 30, 2018. The order included the appropriations of $17.9 million from the Community Preservation Fund annual revenues for appropriation upon the recommendation of the CPC.

“It was exciting to see the talent pool of 104 go down to four finalists,” said Councilor Flaherty. “The energy and passion and love that each of you have for the city during competition showed. It was really exciting to witness and participate in.”

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