The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 24, 2008

Three firms in contest to build Benfield housing

The October 16 Housing Authority meeting proceeded directly to business with the announcement that three firms had successfully responded to the authority’s Request for Proposals (RFP) to build affordable housing on the Benfield Land on South Street. The Housing Authority seeks to construct 26 units of senior affordable rental housing (see “Carlisle Housing Authority meets with developers on senior housing” Mosquito September 12). Four firms had submitted proposals, but one firm had to withdraw because of a staff conflict.

Administrative Coordinator Elizabeth Barnett guided the Housing Authority through the preliminary process of evaluating these proposals. The group will read through them with the assistance of rating worksheets and a list of questions. At their next meeting on October 23, the group will discuss their initial responses to the proposals and schedule reference checks, to be done by Barnett and two Housing Authority members.

Consultants to review proposals

Copies of the proposals will also go to their consultant, Karen Sunnarborg, who will advise the group with regard to ranking them. Sunnarborg specializes in the construction details and regulations governing municipal building projects.

The authority also agreed unanimously to hire Michael H. Jacobs, at a fee of $2,000, to act as financial consultant for the project. Jacobs will advise the group on the developer’s costs and the fiscal soundness of the proposals based on state and federal standards and requirements. Jacobs’s fee will be paid out of funds already granted to the project.

With the help of these two advisors, the authority plans to evaluate the proposals, set up reference checks and site visits, and then schedule a series of three interviews spread over two or three evenings to complete the evaluation. They will also look into having a public presentation of the proposals, including a question-answer period. If all goes smoothly, the successful candidate could be in place by late November.

Foreclosures reach Carlisle

Barnett reported information on mortgage foreclosures and finances from a recent presentation by Congresswoman Niki Tsongas on the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The figures, Barnett said, are “sobering.” Foreclosures in Massachusetts are at 4.2%, while in Lowell they are at 8%. Here in Carlisle, there are, to date, one completed foreclosure, five houses under tax lien and one house in pre-foreclosure (according to on October 16).

The Housing Authority would like to provide educational information to Carlisle citizens who might need it to deal with their mortgages. Information on Federal Housing Authority mortgages and other financing could be published in pamphlet form, and some members suggested holding an event in which speakers would be asked to give presentations on financial education.

Housing Authority member James Bohn volunteered to help on this project. Member Susan Stamps and Barnett volunteered to call potential speakers. Barnett suggested trying to set up the event for around the December holidays. Chair Alan Lehotsky praised the authority for putting “another iron into the fire” and finding an important way to carry out the authority’s charge.

Other business

Lehotsky and Barnett reported to the group that affordable accessory apartments application paperwork is still being reviewed by town counsel. The Department of Housing and Community Development has not given out its final lease template either, so the Housing Authority had no action to take in this matter.

Stamps requested an update on the question of whether there is a possibility of affordable housing being built in the Hanover Hill development off Westford Street. There had been some talk about the possibility of two lots being sold to a non-profit corporation, which would then go before the Zoning Board of Appeals to ask for a comprehensive permit to build affordable housing. At the moment, Barnett reported, there is no official deal on the table. Stamps said she would follow up on this along with Barnett. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito