Remember the Community Preservation Act? The town's voters approved the measure in November 2010 increasing home owner's tax bill by 1.5 percent to fund preserving open space, historic sites and creating affordable housing and recreational facilities.
Nearly two years since then, Belmont now has approximately $2 million in its account and the town's Community Preservation Committee now wants to begin giving away those funds to residents or worthy organizations.
Want some? The town really wants you to have it.
In fact, the town is so eager to part with the money it has designed a five-step streamline process, created a web page with all the essential material to apply, established a hot line (617-993-2774) and designated a town employee (Michael Trainor) to be the chief “handholder” to applicants.
All that's missing is Henny Youngman pleading "Take my money – please!"
There is one catch. Really, there are three catches to using the funds: it must be used to help create affordable housing, preserve and protect recreational space and historic preservation.
But according to Floyd Carman, Belmont’s town treasurer and a member of the Community Preservation Committee, any resident can apply for the money if they believe the funds will can help preserve town assets or create new ones.
But fund seekers better get a move on: initial applications are due in five weeks on Oct. 20.
Step one is submit a preliminary application which gives the CPC a general idea of what the money will be going to. Carman said residents and groups should not feel inhibited from applying even if they think their project might be just outside the preservation aims.
“We all are doing this for the first time. I would want everyone to apply," said Carman.
If the CPC believes an application is eligible for funding, the resident or group will be invited to complete a final application which applicants are asked for more detail information about the project: goals, community needs and support, and lots of documentation such as architectural plans, drawings and supporting information.
The CPC will take each of the applicants and give preference to those that preserve town assets and the town’s character, for example.
In step three, each off the finalists will present their projects to the CPC sat a public meeting on Feb. 13.
The CPC will huddle with the Board of Selectmen, the Warrant Committee and the Capital Budget Committee to review the applications. The Committee will then place the finalists in order of preference. They may recommend fully funding a project, modify the original project, partially fund it or only give money for a portion or phase of a proposed project.
And even after passing through this process, it will be up to the Town Meeting to give the final nod to each project.
Just because a proposal did not past muster this time around does not mean its might not receive funding in the future.
The CPC will be holding a public meeting on Oct. 11 to answer any questions regarding the application process.