Letter from the Selectboard: Grant Opportunities

Dear Residents,

New people and new problems bring new opportunities. Sherry Patch, our new Town Administrator, is actively working with multiple groups in Town on grant writing. She is well versed in programs such as Green Communities, Complete Streets, Age Friendly Communities, Municipal Vulnerability, and ADA. Though some grant programs require community funds, many of these do not. In this letter, we are going to discuss some grant opportunities.

Green Communities

Green Communities is one of the top priorities identified by the Environmental Action Committee (EAC) (others include Municipal Vulnerability grant, working with building committees, investigation of single hauler or pay-as-you-throw trash management, and community and town education and outreach efforts). At least 240 out of 351 towns/cities in MA have become Green Communities, enabling them to apply for grants for clean energy and energy reduction projects. There are criteria that a community must meet to become a Green Community. Princeton would be eligible for an initial $130,000 after acceptance and could then apply for competitive grants for more projects. To learn more about this program, see the EAC report pages 12-19. The EAC will be working with Sherry, the Selectboard, the Planning Board, the Road Advisory Committee, the Board of Health, and others on this effort.

The Complete Streets Funding Program

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Complete Streets Funding Program provides technical assistance and construction funding to eligible municipalities. Eligible municipalities must pass a Complete Streets Policy and develop a Prioritization Plan. A Complete Street is one that provides safe and accessible options for all modes of travel – including walking, biking, transit, and vehicles – for people of all ages and abilities.

Some projects that other towns have funded through this program include sidewalk extensions and repair, new curbing, raised cross-walks, restriping of cross-walks, bike lanes, better lighting, bike racks, traffic calming measures, and signage.

Sherry will be working with the Selectboard and other boards and committees on this effort.  Complete Street

Age Friendly Communities

Age Friendly Communities is a set of efforts spearheaded by AARP to try to make our communities more age friendly. The Town could work with Central Mass Regional Planning Council (CMRPC) on understanding what we need as a town for our senior citizens. For example, do we have accessibility issues? Are we lacking in appropriate housing? Is transportation a problem. Based on what is learned, CMRPC will help us develop a plan to address the issues and will help us apply for grants to help with the implementation. This is something that the Council on Aging is interested in and might fit in well with updating our Master Plan or other efforts.

Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Grant Program (MVP)

The MVP provides support for cities and towns in Massachusetts to begin the process of planning for climate change resiliency and implementing priority projects. The state awards communities with funding to complete vulnerability assessments and develop action-oriented resiliency plans. Communities who complete the MVP program become certified as an MVP community and are eligible for MVP Action grant funding and other opportunities. One aspect of this that is of particular relevance to Princeton is culvert repair and replacement. As we begin to have more extreme rain events, streams go outside their historical boundaries, and culverts wash out. Culvert replacement has become very expensive because of DEP regulations and MVP grants can help offset those costs. For more information, see the EAC report pages 65-68.

Municipal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Improvement Grant Program

These grants will support capital improvements specifically dedicated to improving programmatic access and/or removing barriers encountered by persons with disabilities in applicant facilities throughout the Commonwealth. Examples include but are not limited to increasing both physical access and programmatic access through the addition of features such as: ramps, elevators, power lifts and Limited Use/Limited Application (LULAs) signage, communication access devices, curb cuts and/or any other features that are designed to improve architectural access and/or programmatic access.  Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to projects that demonstrate real and tangible positive impacts to persons with disabilities.

What are possible Town applications? Perhaps we could use this to help with adding an elevator in Bagg Hall. Maybe it could be used to help replace / repair the sidewalk and ramp to the library.

To learn more about this program, see program website.

Grants to Help with PFAS Testing and Remediation

Sherry reached out to Senator Chandler, Rep Ferguson and Mary Jude Pigsley, the Regional Director at DEP, regarding grant funds to address PFA’s.  There are two sources of funding available.  The Clean Water Trust is making 0% loans available through the State Revolving Fund (SRF) and DEP has $4.2M available for grants for testing and remediation.  Mary advised that we would be eligible for reimbursement for cost incurred for testing.  The funding has just been approved by the legislature so guidelines and applications are not yet available.

Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund

Secretary William F. Galvin, Chair of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, is pleased to announce that Round 26 of the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund (MPPF) grant program has been scheduled. It is anticipated that funding will be in the range of the previous grant round which was $800,000. Administered by the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC), the MPPF is a state-funded 50% matching grant reimbursement program established in 1984 to support the preservation of properties, landscapes, and sites listed in the State Register of Historic Places. Applicants must be a municipality or nonprofit organization. Please note that grant disbursement is subject to reauthorization of the capital accounts and the availability of sufficient allocated funds. Sherry will be attending a workshop on this grant opportunity in the hopes that we might use the funds to help offset the cost of repairing the clock tower on the Library.

Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) Grant Program

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) protects, conserves, and restores the natural resources of the Commonwealth. To fulfill this mission, Matthew A. Beaton, Secretary of EEA, is making available funding for the FY 20 Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) Grant Program. This program is intended to provide funding to cities and towns to acquire and develop land for park and outdoor recreation purposes.

Though some of these projects can be done in isolation, many would benefit from being looked at in relation to the Town's Master Plan.