AHA logoAppreciation expressed for 3 who are leaving.

The Arlington Housing Authority earlier this month confirmed a new solar-energy project, voted on a sizable grant application, updated attendees about ongoing projects and reported that three employees are leaving.

At monthly meeting March 15, all board members heard from Jamie Smith and Oliver Sandrover present on behalf of Lodestar Energy. The small Connecticut company, in business about 10 years, develops solar power and sells it back to customers.

The board voted unanimously to approve the proposal, agreeing to a discounted rate on clean renewable energy and getting credits and money in return. 

“You are buying dollar bills for 85 to 90 cents, but they’re special dollar bills; they’re only dollar bills that can be used to pay your electricity bill,” Smith said. “It’s like a Groupon.” 

Smith described it as a way of getting solar energy without doing the work of installing it. 

Services authorities elsewhere

The company's solar farm, in Sandwich, services the housing authorities for Chelsea, Somerville, Sudbury and Watertown. Lodestar also has worked with the housing authorities of Revere, Tewksbury, Leominster and Fitchburg.

This agreement benefits Lodestar, because with housing authority’s support, it is able to get more bank loans because housing authorities are sustainable and long-lasting organizations. 

Lodestar’s proposed contract has already been approved by the state's Department of Housing and Community Development  and signed by other authorities. Authority attorney John Greco has experience in real estate law did not find any issues.

Grants eyes up to $1m

For a Climate Ready Housing grant that could provide the authority between $800,000 to $1 million, Executive Director Jack Nagle got unanimous approval from the board to submit an application. An application last year was not selected. Nagle has submitted a preication to show intent but is now able to officially submit the application. 

Some AHS staffing changes were announced. Assistant Executive Director Mayra Cruz; Patty Joyner, the leased-housing administrator; and Mardia Pierre, resident-services coordinator are leaving the AHA at the end of the month. Nagle and Connor thanked them all for their hard work and commended Joyner for her more than 20 years of service with the AHA. 

“We appreciate everything she has done for the authority and program participants over that time period,” Nagle said. “She has been a tremendous asset in my time here, and I wish her well in her new opportunity.” 

The board plans to restructure roles and post job opportunities.

Nagle also informed attendees that board members will be attending the Mass NAHRO, or Massachusetts National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials' conference this spring to receive training and skills to better serve the community. 

Updates about Hauser, Chestnut

Nagle delivered his updates to the board. Numerous projects are in the design phase, including the electrical project at the Hauser Building, the air-source heat-pump project at Chestnut Manor, the window project at the cottages and the window project at Cusack Terrace. 

The door project at the cottages, the roof project at Hauser and the electrical project at Chestnut Manor are all out to bid this month. 

At Winslow Towers, the air-source heat-pump project is on schedule and the window project is expected to start up again in the spring. 

He said the Chestnut Manor window project is “moving along at a good pace,” with 30 windows installed so far. Also underway is repair of the vertical lift platform project at the Donnelly House. 

In January, the lift at Donnelly, a Chapter 689 special-needs house near Mass. Ave., broke. An emergency waiver was approved in February to expedite the project, expected to cost less than $50,000.

Upgrades to the Hauser fire alarm and sprinklers are ahead of schedule.

Creative placmaking to start

The creative placemaking project at the Hauser and Drake Village is expected to start next month. 

Nagle also brought up the rodenticide issue, highlighted by the death of a bald eagle in March linked to the rat poison, and assured the board that it is not a concern.

“In light of some of the ongoing concerns related to rodenticide, I want to confirm that the AHA does not use pesticide in its integrated pest-management program,” Nagle said. “We are working with Burgess pest management to determine best ways to address pest activity through treatment, prevention and education.” 

Board Chair Brian Connor emphasized that the AHA has not used the controversial rodenticide in years.

Mattress charge OK'd

As Nov. 1, Arlington has required that mattresses be recycled, as per state law. Because of materials used, they need to be disposed of in a certain way.

In response, the board voted unanimously to approve charging residents $45 per mattress. The authority will take away the mattress and do the labor and delivery to town, but it asks for the fee, which is standard townwide. Board member Jo Anne Preston pointed out that some mattress companies will take the mattress away free, so she suggested that people shop from companies that do that if they want to avoid the fee in the future. 

Doreen Curley of the Winslow Tower Tenant Association updated the board about upcoming plans. The group plans to host a spring event and a potluck dinner in April. Curley also recently met with the Arlington Center for the Arts to start conducting events for the tenants; this will start in October. 

“It gives us more to do for the tenants here,” Curley said. Hauser tenants voted unanimously to approve the relocation of the fire-hose valve for better access for firefighterst. They also voted to add a strobe feature in one unit for someone who is hard of hearing. 

The board unanimously approved the meeting minutes from Feb. 15. 

The meeting concluded at 7:59 p.m. The next meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, April 19, with the annual session at 6:45 p.m. and to be followed at 7 p.m. by the regular session.

Feb. 22, 2023: Drake Village, Hauser improvements approved


This news summary by YourArlington intern Renee Abbott, a journalism student at Northeastern University, was published Monday, March 20, 2023.

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