First Congregational Church on Main Street is one of many historic buildings in Amherst
Over the next few months each proposal will be formally presented to them by petitioners at a public meeting, although there was talk last night about eliminating some that stand little chance of garnering their approval.
For instance, the Committee was cool to the request from the First Congregational Church for $357,647 for a fire suppression system and Chair Mary Streeter said she had already received two letters opposing the project.
Besides the enormous amount of money one member worried it would set a precedent and soon the CPAC would be flooded with requests for just such a system. He pointed out Amherst has a lot of historic structures.
Another liaison questioned the "partner" aspect of the proposal wondering if they just randomly picked something on their wish list that might fall under CPAC jurisdiction for the town to fund, while they pay for elevator, electrical system upgrades and added restrooms.
Select Board member Andy Steinberg pointed out the Committee did fund the Goodwin Memorial Zion Church last year, although a lot smaller request ($25,000), so separation of Church & State is not an issue.
But Mary Streeter quickly pointed out Town Meeting, after CPAC gave it their blessing, voted down $8,000 for repairs to North Church in the heart of North Amherst.
The Evergreens (bottom), Dickinson Homestead (top right)
The parallel $200,000 request from the Emily Dickinson Museum for a fire suppression system in the Evergreens next door to the Dickinson Homestead was also not overly enthusiastically received.
Chair Mary Streeter wondered if the unknown donor who planned to match the CPA money was perhaps the owner of the building, Amherst College, who is the town's largest landowner with an endowment surpassing $2 billion.
Ms. Streeter was also unhappy the request proposal never mentioned the previous CPA money ($15,000) donated to them in their background report to the committee which she thought a tad ungrateful.
Members were also concerned over the Museum charging an entry fee and wondered if they did donate this money would Amherst residents be given free entry in perpetuity?
Other members pointed out the Dickinson name should be such that donated funding could be found from other sources.
Funding requests for FY17 total $2,125,520 and Comptroller Sonia Aldrich verified the current balance in the CPAC account -- with about 20% of that representing state matching funds -- stands at $1,778,747 so the Committee doesn't exactly have money to burn.