CPA money for St. John Cantius Church
The City Council on Oct. 6 voted 7-2 to appropriate $500,000 from Community Preservation Act funds for exterior repairs to the former St. John Cantius Church at 10 Hawley St. The CPA appropriation includes a permanent historical preservation restriction for as long as that building stands.
Both the Northampton Historical Commission and the Community Preservation Committee previously voted unanimously to recommend approval of the $500,000 sought by the O’Connell Development Group of Holyoke to repair the exterior and preserve the church building, which it would re-use for 10 units of market-rate rental housing.
I voted with the majority and in my remarks cited the historical, cultural and architectural significance of the church to the Polish community and the city as a whole. About two-thirds of the total – $335,737 – is from a CPA account that can be used only for historic preservation projects. I expressed disappointment that O’Connell rejected the city’s offer to purchase the church for use as the proposed Resilience Hub, and does not plan to provide any affordable housing Still, the 10 one- and two-bedroom market-rate apartments planned by O’Connell are better than what I reasonably concluded was the alternative: a pile of rubble and luxury condos.
Fossil-free new construction
The City Council on Oct. 6 unanimously approved an order directing the city to seek special legislation that would permit an ordinance requiring “new and substantially remodeled or rehabilitated buildings to use electricity for all building energy needs.”
If approved by the state Legislature, the measure would be used as a tool to help achieve the city’s goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Some exceptions would be allowed, including emergency repairs and “renovations that do not result in a new HVAC or hot water system installation, or substantial changes to existing fossil fuel infrastructure.” There also would be a waiver and appeals process “for those circumstances in which compliance makes a project impractical to implement or imposes extraordinary challenges.”
Parking on Stoddard and Prospect streets
The City Council on Oct. 6 referred to its Legislative Matters committee, of which I am a member, two ordinances related to parking on Stoddard and Prospect streets.
One ordinance would establish no-parking zones on alternate sides of Stoddard Street. A second ordinance would prohibit parking on the northeast side of Prospect Street for 65 feet northwest from its intersection with Stoddard Street.
After the Legislative Matters committee issues recommendations on the ordinances, they will return to the full City Council for a final vote.
Adult spelling bee
The 20th annual Northampton Adult Spelling Bee will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19, at JFK Middle School. Doors will open at 5 p.m. and there will be dinner food and desserts for sale before the spelling begins.
The event benefits the Northampton Education Foundation small grants program that supports students and teachers.in the public schools.
I will be part of the “Official Buzzness” team with my colleagues Marissa Elkins and Rachel Maiore.
Laurel Park sesquicentennial
The public is invited as Laurel Park celebrates its 150th anniversary with free events from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, on its grounds off North King Street. Begun as a Methodist summer camp site in 1872, Laurel Park was a prominent part of the Chautauqua cultural movement> During the 20th century, it became the secular community of permanent residents that it remains today.
I will be among the speakers during a program beginning at 11 a.m. in the open-air tabernacle, along with Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra, state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, Northern Narragansett educator Jennifer Lee, and Laurie Sanders, co-executive director of Historic Northampton.
That will be followed by lunch from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the dining hall, featuring foods of the 19th century. There will be a concert at 1:30 p.m. in the tabernacle with Claire Dacey and the Fiddle Orchestra of Western Massachusetts. Six new historical signs chronicling stories about Laurel Park will be unveiled, and residents will exhibit their art in Normal Hall with a reception from 3 to 4 p.m.
A full schedule of events is available at chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://laurelparkarts.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/program%20copy.pdf