The Reminder: Selectboard discusses Lanthrop Village Project, town administrator search

10 Dec 2020

By Danielle Eaton

The South Hadley Selectboard met on the evening of Dec. 1, where they discussed a variety of items including the search for a new town administrator and transferring money to the Lathrop Village Project.


The board then moved to a reprogramming performance hearing for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) with regards to the Lathrop Village Project. Town Administrator Mike Sullivan explained that the purpose of the meeting was the town wanted to “reprogram $26,000 from the housing rehab money to the Lathrop Village project, which would provide for handicap accessible apartments or apartments to be converted to be handicap accessible in the bathrooms.”

He said it was “a worthwhile project,” particularly because there were “so few of those types of units, affordable housing in South Hadley.” He said he thought it was a “good investment” and the price on the project had “gone up from the earlier estimates.”

Selectboard Chair Jeff Cyr asked where the money would be repurposed from. Sullivan said it would come housing rehab money. This money, Sullivan explained, was typically used each year by the town to give “grants slash loans to people who are income eligible to make improvements to their home.” Sullivan said there was still money in the fund, so they would not be “abandoning that project” and were still able to grant some loans and/or grants.

“We’re just moving a portion of the money to the Lathrop Village Project, just basically to get that done,” he said. Additionally, he said a similar move had been made a few years prior to pay for a ramp that had been built at the Newton Manor Community Center.

Senior planner for the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, John O’Leary, who also serves as the town’s project manager for their FY19 CBDG program gave some updates on how the program had been used throughout the year. He said the town had received $550,000 during the FY19 year from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for two programs. He explained that one of the programs was a housing rehabilitation and assistance program, the program the town had been utilizing.

O’Leary explained the program works by awarding loans of up to $35,000 for home repairs for those who qualify. He said homeowners would continually pay back the loan over the course of 15 years, but if they lived in their house for 15 years then the loan would be forgiven and become a grant. This year, he said, the town had $360,000 allocated toward the program. He said of that budget, the town had agreements with homeowners worth $310,000, leaving a remaining $50,000.

The second project the town had received funds for through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, he explained, was the Lanthrop Village Project. That project, he said, would “replace four existing bathtubs with four walk-in shower units for four handicap apartments located in the Lanthrop Village Apartment Complex.” The initial low bid for the work had been $67,694, leaving an initial gap in funding. With the board’s approval, O’Leary said they were hoping to reallocate $26,000. This would not only cover the final $15,000 gap, but would allow for a 15 percent contingency “in the event that there is an unforeseen additional cost during construction.” The board then made a motion and unanimously approved to transfer the money.

Read the full The Reminder story here