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Hadley mulls CPA funds for historic cemeteries, rental aid and preserving farmland

  • FILE PHOTO



Staff Writer
Monday, February 22, 2021

HADLEY — Enhancing historic cemeteries, providing emergency rental assistance for residents and preserving farmland are among projects that could be paid for through Community Preservation Act money this year.

The CPA Committee recently recommended $292,000 in projects for annual Town Meeting to consider in May, with the bulk of the money going toward cemetery work and the rental assistance program. Those projects were originally brought to a Special Town Meeting last fall, but that session ended before the articles were taken up.

The CPA account is built from a 3% surcharge on property tax bills that is matched by a contribution from the state.

For $155,000, gravestone repairs would be done at North Hadley and Russellville cemeteries, while the stone fence would be rehabilitated at the Hockanum Cemetery.

Emergency rental assistance would be made available for qualifying residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since November Town Meeting failed to address the spending, the town has instead made $50,000 available from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Any money drawn from the trust to help people with their rents would be reimbursed through the CPA account.

For a combined $18,500, 50.1 acres of farmland would be placed into the state’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction program for permanent protection.

The first 10.6 acres, known as the Gralinski APR, is on the Connecticut River along Route 47 near Stockwell Road, and between the Sessions/ Scott APR and land owned by the Department of Conservation and Recreation as part of the Connecticut River Greenway.

The second 40.5 acres, known as the Handrich APR, is on Moody Bridge Road and next to existing APRs and the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

CPA money would only make up a small portion of the $370,000 combined purchase price, with the state Department of Agricultural Resources picking up the majority of the expense.

Finally, the 1909 Seth Thomas Clock Co. clock on the First Congregational Church in town center would be renovated at a cost of $13,500 from the CPA.

The town has previously provided money for religious organizations, including to the North Hadley Congregational Church for various renovation work on that building.

CPA Committee member Mark Dunn noted that the clock is visible to all residents and people passing through Hadley center. “It’s part of the town fabric,” Dunn said.

Former CPA chairman Andy Morris-Friedman, who offers consulting advice to the committee, said repairing the clock is a perfect use for CPA dollars.

 “The clock is great,” Morris-Friedman said. “This is what CPA was made for.”