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Community Preservation Act Committee seeks input on millions in spending

Date: 5/19/2009

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

AGAWAM -- The Community Preservation Act (CPA) Committee has yet to exhaust its commitment to Agawam's betterment or its financial resources even after the opening of the multimillion-dollar School Street Park last year.

The committee has $1.3 million to spend and is eager to learn what residents want them to do with their money at the CPA's annual public hearing on May 27. CPA funds are generated by a one-percent surcharge on each resident's annual real estate taxes.

"There's so much the CPA has done for Agawam [including] School Street Park. I think that [project] alone shows that CPA was a wise choice for the people of Agawam," Louis Russo, vice chair of the CPA Committee, said. "The CPA is an organization that the town can be very proud of."

"We want to get community input -- it is their money [after all]," he continued.

The committee has spent over $2.4 million to fund open space, historic preservation, affordable community housing and recreation since its inception in 2001.

Over $200,000 was used for the preservation of the Thomas Smith House; $1.7 million was allocated for School Street Park; $248,000 was granted to the Agawam Housing Authority for building maintenance; and $92,820 was used for a new playscape at Benjamin J. Phelps Elementary School.

"A lot of progress has been made [since the inception of the CPA Committee], Corinne Wingard, a member of the committee, said. "School Street Park was a remarkable success and used very little town money. It's certainly impressive that the town was able to get such a resource."

She added that other categories should not be overlooked, however, including appropriating money for historic preservation, open space and affordable housing.

"It's in the best interests of the town to offer affordable housing to meet the need of the townspeople," Wingard said. "That was my primary motivation to serve on the [CPA] committee."

She explained that she'll be working toward allocating funds for such projects within the next fiscal year.

Wingard added that the committee is urging residents to bring their proposals to the hearing next week. Those unable to attend may also submit proposals online at

The committee's annual public hearing will take place on May 27 at 7 p.m. at the Agawam Public Library, 750 Cooper St.