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The Arlington Housing Authority board voted unanimously at its regular meeting Feb. 15 to award the contract for Drake Village cottages and Hauser creative-placemaking project to C. M. Conway Construction, of Lynnfield.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) recommended the project. The contract is for $419,000.

The project is expected to begin in spring, with more information available when a construction meeting is held. Creative placemaking uses integrated design to encourage connection to the community. An ARPA, or American Rescue Plan Act, grant, is to fund it. 

Menotomy Manor windows delayed

In addition, as to replacing Menotomy Manor windows, Executive Director Jack Nagle told the board that it has been delayed after meetings with prospective architects led the board to decide to change the scope of the project. 

Nagle described the situation as “unfortunate,” but, ultimately, he said, there is expected to be no issue with ARPA funding, and he expects that the project will be completed. No estimated time frame was provided.

“While this is a speed bump in the road, this is the right move at this time to make sure we measure twice and cut once,” Nagle said.

Multiple projects scheduled

During a 13-minute Zoom meeting, Nagle reported that the authority has scheduled multiple projects in the design phase. They include Hauser roof replacement and electrical-panel upgrade. Attending were 26 people, including five board members

At next month’s meeting, Nagle hopes to have updates about replacing cottage doors, cottage fire alarms and electrical panels, as all are expected to be out to bid soon. 

Replacing Chestnut Manor windows is scheduled to begin in early March and is expected to take six to eight weeks to complete.

The heat-source project is to begin in the next few months, and an information meeting about it will be scheduled closer to the start date.

Upgrading electrical panels at Chestnut Manor, hit by a fatal fire in January 2022, is in the design phase. Nagle said that because of a statewide initiative to replace federally inspected electrical panels, the design firm is busy.

“They are working hard to get them out to bid, but they have a lot to do,” Nagle said.

Cusack, Winslow efforts

At Cusack Terrace, the window project is to begin shortly. The windows have been manufactured and ordered.

Installation of heat pumps for Winslow Towers is in progress and has fared well even during remarkably low temperatures. Nagle commended the work of the facilities team for doing a great job communicating with residents during the cold spell and ensuring that the building was functioning properly.

The board is looking for additional funding sources for the deep-energy retrofit project at Menotomy Manor. Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit devoted to clean energy, and the DHCD will help the board apply for and secure grants.

Last month, the vertical platform lift in the Donnelly House, a Chapter 689 special-needs house near Mass. Ave.,  broke. An emergency waiver was approved to expedite the project, and it will be replaced in the coming weeks. The project is under $50,000.

Pest-management contract

The AHA board recently signed a yearlong contract with Burgess Pest Management. So far, it has done an assessment of the exterior needs of Menotomy Manor.  

“They bring a wealth of experience, and we’re excited to get started with them,” Nagle said.

A meeting is expected with the state DHCD and the Department of Developmental Services regarding the Chapter 689 special-needs home and what residents need. The project is expected to have from 10 to 16 units. 

Staff at senior housing units have been processing the biannual forms to redetermine residents' rent. 

Self-sufficiency advances

Sarah Pelayo, the new family self-sufficiency (FSS) coordinator, has added 12 new families to the program since she came on board in November. One participant graduated in January and received a $4,000 escrow payment. The escrow payment can be used for home ownership, starting a business, paying off loans, returning to school or car insurance. Massachusetts’ FSS program works to provide families with opportunities to succeed and connects them with local resources. 

“It’s a great program that really helps individuals move toward their goals,” Nagle said. A graduation ceremony is planned.

Resident-services coordinators have helped residents apply for federal rental and fuel assistance, and they have helped residents get more than $150,000 of rental assistance in the past year, which he called a “great success.”

“We’re really grateful for the number of resources that exist in this area and all the different types of support systems,” Nagle said.  

MassHOPE programs for kids

Authority representatives met with the Menotomy Manor Tenant Organization and the Boston Church of Christ regarding a nonprofit called MassHOPE, which runs programs for kids. Nagle assured the board that the programs will be secular and that the board will ensure that it is not religiously based. Two of the programs are called Saturday Academy and Bike for Kids. 

“We’re pretty excited about the opportunity here, and we will continue to have some conversations and hope to have some more information for the board next month,” Nagle said.  

Meeting minutes for Jan. 9 and Jan. 18 were approved unanimously.  

Doreen Curley, president of the Winslow Towers Tenant Association, spoke about upcoming events at Winslow Towers, including a potluck dinner, KFC night and game night. A new bingo machine is now in the basement and has become popular among residents. Tenant association President Jen Hernandez was not present for comment.  

There were no public comments. The meeting adjourned at 7:13 p.m.

The next meeting is scheduled for March 15, 2023, at 7 p.m.  

Jan. 30, 2023: AHA widens communication effort to 5 groups, rejects energy grant


This news summary by YourArlington intern Renee Abbott, a journalism student at Northeastern University, was published Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2023.

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