By Debra Parkhurst
The Ad Hoc Dog Park Task Force led by Laurie Walsh requested $25,000 to begin the process for a grant application to the Stanton Foundation. According to Walsh, the Stanton Foundation provides funding for three phases: 100% of the design costs; 90% of the construction costs (from $100,000 to $225,000, with 10% from the town), and additional grants for capital improvements. The town is responsible for costs such as contingencies, insurance, permits, water lines, etc. A dog park site would be one-half to one acre of land already owned by the town, centrally located with access to parking and water. Walsh described several locations under consideration in Bedford, as well as dog parks already existing or soon to be opened in nearby towns such as Arlington, Billerica, and Wilmington. The Stanton Foundation provides 10 grants per year, and the Task Force hopes to be early in consideration for the 2018 cycle. The Committee appeared positive regarding the proposal.
The Selectmen also have requested $20,000from the CPC to fund a Housing Strategic Study. The Selectmen are committed to providing moderate and affordable housing in Bedford. While Bedford now exceeds the state affordability quota, the continuing teardown of existing housing stock replaced with new, and often unaffordable, construction remains an issue.
“This housing study is intended to inform the planning and developing of affordable housing within Bedford. CPA funding for this project would pay for a consultant to study the Town’s demographic trends affecting future growth, its existing housing stock, and its future housing needs. The consultant will consider the Town’s desire for new housing, types of housing most likely to be needed, and, generally, its fair housing obligations. The study will inform a strategic plan for municipal action with regards to housing, based upon a comprehensive housing needs assessment.*
According to the request, the study would provide a consensus consistent with community goals for a range of housing, whether owned, rented, or otherwise agreed upon. Residents have expressed concern about affordability, lack of availability of starter homes, and homes for the elderly or the disabled. The study could help with long term planning by preserving neighborhoods and perhaps easing traffic congestion by providing housing for Bedford workers.
During the meeting, CPC discussed the use of community preservation funds to preserve affordability at Bedford Village. In March of 2016, the town received notification of the expiration of the affordability of units at Bedford Village. At Annual Town Meeting in March 2017, the town approved up to $3 million of CPA funds to preserve these units. As the time to finalize procurement and restoration approaches, the question for the CPC members was how best to allocate these funds. The more available funds are used, the lower the bonding. However, using a majority of those funds up front may hamper the ability to respond adequately to the results of the Housing Strategic Study.
Finally, the CPC reviewed a request from the Historic Preservation Committee for up to $4,000 for an appraisal that would begin the process of preservation restrictions placed on an older house (site unspecified.) This would protect an older home from demolition, and allow the owners some amount of Federal and State tax credits.
The CPC will hold a public hearing on all these requests in mid-September, prior to Special Town Meeting scheduled for November 6, 2017.
*from the Project Submission Sheet, Bedford Selectmen, August 2017