TEWKSBURY – The Tewksbury Select Board of Directors met on November 30 for a discussion on funding for veterans housing. Member Anne Marie Stronach joined the meeting by teleconference.
The Board of Directors considered a request for local funding from the non-profit organization Soldier On, which is working on the construction of the 21-unit Gordon H. Mansfield Veterans Village at 1660 Main Street, adjacent to Heatherwood Retirement. Living. Soldier On consultant Peter Graham said supply chain issues related to the pandemic have increased the cost of development.
The Select Board previously allocated $ 350,000 from the city’s $ 5 million Affordable Housing Trust Fund to build 21 affordable studio apartments and permanent one-bedroom veterans housing. Soldier The state Department of Housing and Community Development has requested $ 4 million. DHCD asked Soldier On to return to Tewksbury to seek additional funding through the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funding; however, local funds have already been allocated.
Soldier On has requested an additional $ 500,000 from the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund for a total of $ 850,000. A letter from Soldier On CEO Bruce Buckley to the Board of Directors explained that all ongoing operational support will be covered by Soldier On and its partners, including the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the State through vouchers. rental assistance; Unlimited will also raise funds for private support. The 21 units will be included in the state’s affordable housing inventory.
Member Jayne Wellman asked Graham to provide the board with the audited financial records of Soldier On, adding that she felt the project was a “good use” of the funding but needed more information. Other board members wanted to wait and see how the project finances were working to avoid allocating money that might not be needed.
Unlimited was encouraged to return to the state for funding; Member Todd Johnson said the city needs to push harder against the state to stop shifting finance burdens to local funds.
“The state recognized that this was a big request for them and I don’t want anyone to leave this meeting thinking it was the state asking to take advantage and not do their right thing. On the other hand, the state is doing a tremendous amount, ”Graham said. “I wish we weren’t here asking for money to house our homeless veterans. I would like this country not to ask independent non-profit organizations to collect money to put people in safe and accommodating housing. Our legislative delegation has done a great job at all levels for this cause, but it comes down to the money in the [affordable housing] Confident Making More Return On Investment Than Housing For Veterans? This is not my call. I am here to try to build housing for the veterans.
The board put the matter up for further discussion.
General Manager Richard Montuori reviewed his goals and objectives for 2022. He reviewed his objectives for fiscal years 20 to 21: to continue and undertake capital projects and improvement planning, including working on the regional emergency communication center, the primary school project and the fire station project; develop new or improve and update new policies, procedures and bylaws and continue to work on Commonwealth land transfers; and maintaining budget, operations and administration, hiring new fire and police chiefs, completing a community emergency management plan, overseeing a successful FY21 fiscal year and FY22 budget process.
Montuori explained that he hopes to pursue several of his goals in the future and add several new projects, including determining a use for the Ella Flemings School next to Dewing School on Andover Street and building bridges. on open-air trails. Montuori plans to continue working on updating the general bylaw and zoning bylaw, and wants to ensure the success of the financial competition of the FY22 and FY23 budget process.
It will continue to monitor COVID-19 developments, complete the city’s website upgrade and assess cybersecurity needs. The board thanked Montuori and his staff for their work throughout the pandemic ahead of its formal annual assessment.
Several members discussed concerns over a comment at a recent Lowell City Council meeting that the town wants to move its homeless population to Tewksbury State Hospital due to a lack of hospital beds. accommodation for 120 people. Wellman said Tewksbury is already facing pressure on the hospital’s public services, and if there is a regional approach to sheltering the homeless, Tewksbury should seek to be part of the conversation.
Member James Mackey, one of the council representatives on the Zoning By-law Committee, has requested that the public hearings on the by-law update be televised at the request of residents. As the board’s resident cybersecurity expert, he said he hoped work on the new city’s website would be completed by the end of the year and announced that the city had received a $ 10,000 grant for cybersecurity upgrades and assessment.
The next meeting is scheduled for December 21, 2021. Residents can find the meeting agenda on the city’s website. The meeting can be viewed on Comcast channel 99 and Verizon channel 33.