Housing Trust reacts to CPC funding decisions

by Karina Coombs

The Carlisle Affordable Trust reacted to disappointing news that one of their funding requests was cut by half at a recent Carlisle Community Preservation Committee (CPC) meeting. During the Housing Trust’s February 27 meeting, Trust member John Williams, who is also a member of the CPC, reported that while the CPC approved their $100,000 funding request for development of the Goff property at 338 Bedford Road, the second $100,000 request for unrestricted funds was reduced to $50,000.

The Housing Trust had initially submitted one proposal to the CPC for $200,000 in unrestricted funds, but the CPC had asked that it be split into two applications, with one to support the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) group housing on Goff and the other as unrestricted funding. 

Request for unrestricted funds 

The request for unrestricted funds proved problematic. The Housing Trust had outlined possible ways in which the money could be spent, including $75,000 for a well at Banta-Davis, cost overruns at Goff or for looking at additional property in Carlisle for housing. Williams said that the CPC made it clear that if money was needed at Banta-Davis it should be requested in a separate application. 

According to Housing Trust Chair Greg Peterson, CPC Chair Luke Ascolillo reached out to him after that meeting and suggested he consider increasing the funding request for the DDS project. He explained that the Housing Trust would be unable to use the unrestricted funds if additional money was needed for Goff. Peterson believed going up to $125,000 for Goff would be sufficient.

During the Housing Trust meeting, Peterson expressed his frustration at the CPC process. Reached after the meeting, Peterson explained that the Housing Trust has depleted $50,000 in unrestricted funds that was approved in 2006. The Housing Trust asked for a larger amount of funds this year so they would have the money to move quickly on future real estate transactions.

CPC’s application process

proves challenging

Williams explained that even though the Goff funding was approved, they would not receive the money until the CPC developed a grant contract that would be subject to provisions. Town Counsel and Ascolillo created the agreements, which require specific and detailed construction documents with matching schedules and costs. Peterson explained that those costs would not be known by Town Meeting, since the Goff project was still in the Request for Proposal (RFP) phase. 

Peterson suggested the two groups work with a document he created that would have a category of items identified as predevelopment and estimated those costs at $70,000. The remaining $30,000 would be used in the development phase. Peterson said that Ascolillo liked the idea, but he was told that whatever is not spent during predevelopment cannot be used for other things on the site.

Would one-year claw-back discourage builders?

Williams added that the Goff funds could be available as early as May 1, but with a return or “clawback” date of one year. A clawback is used to return unspent money. Historically they have had a term of three years or more before any unspent funds need to be returned. “We’re not going to get anyone to respond to this Request for Proposal if they think someone is going to have to go back to Town Meeting for more funds,” said Peterson. 

Peterson later explained why this would be problematic for developers, who would assume the funding would expire in April 2015. He estimated that if everything went well they will not even begin construction until the late summer of 2015 and there would be legitimate concern that funding would disappear before it could be used. 

With the next CPC meeting scheduled for March 4, Peterson and Williams planned to approach the CPC to express their concerns about not being able to use unused funds from Goff predevelopment and the length of the clawback period. The Trust agreed not to ask for funds for Banta-Davis. ∆