On a day that featured much speculation in the media about how Boston would attract Amazon to the city, 120 Boston residents packed into a community room at Franklin Park in Dorchester last night to discuss a community-centered process to spend $20 million per year on affordable housing, parks, and historic preservation.
Yes for a Better Boston (YBB) sponsored the event and announced, along with the city’s new Community Preservation director Christine Poff, that applications are now open for residents interested in serving on the nine-member committee that will recommend spending across the city. YBB is a broad-based community coalition that mounted the campaign last year resulting in 74% of city voters supporting the passage of the Community Preservation Act. Last night’s meeting was chaired by YBB members Thadine Brown from Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, Alison Frazee from Boston Preservation Alliance, Lincoln Larmond from Mattapan United, and Liz Vizza from Boston Parks Advocates and Friends of the Public Garden.
Boston residents have until November 9th to apply for one of the four at-large seats on the Community Preservation Committee that will make recommendations for spending. Community Preservation director Christine Poff annunced that the city had collected $4.5 million in the first quarter of the current fiscal year and was expected to raise $18 million locally. Boston will be eligible for a state match that would likely put the total figure around $20 million.
People came from Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan, Allston, Brighton, West Roxbury, Roslindale, Jamaica Plain, and the South End and filled out “shopping lists” with ideas about where and how to spend CPA dollars. The room featured photos of potential sites or projects that could be eligible for funding and residents compared notes with each other. Suggestions ranged from improving tennis courts, creating more spaces for children to play, restoring a historic fountain in Coppens Square in Dorchester, creating affordable housing at an old brewery on the Roxbury/Jamaica Plan border, assisting low income tenants and first time homebuyers, and many more.