Amherst council approves $1.18 million in CPA funding 

  • Amherst Town Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

AMHERST — The Town Council approved $1.18 million in Community Preservation Act projects last week, including bringing more affordable housing to town, rebuilding and replacing the track at Amherst Regional High School, and making improvements to hiking trails and town conservation land.

The projects were recommended by the CPA Committee and received unanimous backing from the council. At-Large Councilor Mandi Jo Hanneke, chairwoman of the Community Resources Committee, said many of the projects have an even greater importance due to the effects of the pandemic, including those aimed at providing more variety of housing and outdoor recreation.

The spending includes $200,000 that will go to the Municipal Affordable Housing Trust for its work to create housing options for low- and moderate-income families and individuals, and an additional $234,208 for Valley Community Development’s first-time homebuyers and mortgage subsidy program.

Another $157,500 will go to the regional schools as Amherst’s share of the track and field replacement project, and $25,000 for building and repairing bridges on trails, installing boardwalks, kiosks and signs, and other upgrades, to sites including the Epstein and Stosz properties and parts of the Wentworth and Fort River farms.

“Trails, they are in high use right now, and the project at the high school for the track, again that’s something that is in high use right now,” Hanneke said.

Other CPA spending includes $4,500 for window restoration at the North Amherst Community Farm, $25,000 to inventory and photograph up to 80 historic buildings identified by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and $50,000 to restore 50 to 60 damaged headstones in the 1870 section of West Cemetery.

The council also unanimously approved an $11.57 million one-month budget that will carry the town through July, at which time a full-year budget is expected to be adopted.

At-Large Councilor Andy Steinberg, chairman of the Finance Committee, said the one-month budget will be folded into the larger budget next month.

“The purpose of this one-month budget is to allow the town to operate during the month of July while we take a little more time to develop budgets, see what the Legislature is doing and review the actual FY21 budget,” Steinberg said.