POLITICS

Housing Authority To Seek CPC Funding For New Sign

By Kristen Arute, Published: July 17, 2020
Thaxter Park entrance [Hingham Current News File Photos / Kristen Arute]

The Hingham Housing Authority decided during their meeting on July 14th that they will be submitting two applications for funding from the Community Preservation Committee (CPC). These funds are generated from a 1.5% surcharge on Hingham residents' real estate taxes as well as matching grants from the State. One of the projects the Housing Authority is seeking funding for is a replacement of the wooden sign on Thaxter Street. They estimate it will cost $6,000. "This would be a double-sided wood sign with gold leaf," said Director James Marathas, "and it would replace the small wood sign we have out front."

Concerns were expressed over the size and location of the existing sign being inadequate. "This is our main identification sign," said Assistant Treasurer Jim Watson. "It identifies who we are."

Janine Suchecki, Chair of the Housing Authority, mentioned that she drives by the location twice a day and asked if there were a way for the sign to be lit up at night to prevent vandalism in the future. Several weeks ago, someone had painted over the word "Park" on both sides of the sign with green paint. "Could we find out if there’s solar lighting that we could add?" she asked, "or if it’s complicated to run lighting just to light up the new sign since we’re going to put something nice in place?"

Marathas said that they could explore both possibilities. "I would be preferable to the underground service," said Suchecki, "only because I would hate to have to trim the trees back over that sign since it’s pretty shady there." Members stated that it was unclear what the cost of installing electrical service might be or even if CPC would allow for that type of expenditure.

"I’ve been looking at sort of what can get approved by CPC," said CPC liaison Meghan Buhr, "but I think that coming at it from a fire safety angle is actually maybe that’s something that the state strongly stresses CPC funds be used for." She continued to elaborate, "So the fire department is really big on signage and having street numbers. Nobody in this town actually does that. The fire department’s always complaining. So I feel like that it might actually improve our chances even if we're asking for more money if we come at it from a visibility standpoint like so emergency services can be absolutely clear like where the driveway is and that sort of thing." The Fire Chief has been contacted for comment.

According to a resident, there was once a very visible sign identifying Thaxter Park that sat under the street light at the end of the driveway. She said that it was well lit and quite visible, but then the smaller one was put up on the lawn about four years ago. "It is a challenge to see from either direction," she said, "even in the daytime." She then noted that she has to stand at the end of the driveway to wave to people coming to visit her and that she has given up on Amazon because they can never seem to find the driveway to properly deliver packages.

CPC applications are due in early September which means all boards and committees have a small window of time in which to finalize their applications. The Board didn't think they would be able to obtain an estimate on installing electrical services for the lighting for the sign. Suchecki had a suggestion. "We could vote to approve the $6000 plus the increased cost for the electrical based on what James gets for an estimate," she said. Board members agreed, and the motion passed unanimously.

The Community Preservation Committee reviews applications submitted by Town entities and citizens at large for the funding of projects which involve the acquisition of land for open space or recreation, preservation of historic resources and the support of low and moderate income housing, and the Committee makes recommendations to Town Meeting regarding the use of the Town's Community Preservation Fund for these purposes. Preliminary applications are due by September 15th.

 

Thaxter Park and Housing Authority offices are located at 30 Thaxter Street, which is the former home of the West Elementary School. In 1971 the state purchased the property for $1. Since then congregate housing and apartments have been constructed in two phases - one in 1974 and a second in 1990. Thaxter Park is the only low income housing in Hingham that allows residents and veterans to receive local preference. All units must pass an annual Housing Quality Standards inspection, and the rent is capped at a fair market rent published by HUD. Participants may pay 30-40% of their adjusted income for rent and utilities, and a federal subsidy is paid to the owner on behalf of the tenant in order to make up the difference between the fair market rent and the tenant's portion. The Housing Authority, which oversees the administration of the housing at Thaxter Park, abides by a stringent set of bylaws.

Housing Authority members:

James Marathas, Director 

Janine Suchecki, Chair 

Irma Lauter, Vice Chair and State Appointee

Gregory OMeara, Treasurer 

Megan Buhr, CPC Liaison 

James Watson, Assistant Treasurer

Community Preservation Committee members:

Kevin M. Burke - Historical Commission Representative

Vicki Donlan - Recreation Commission Representative

William Harrington - appointed by Selectmen

Larry Lindner - appointed by Selectmen

Robert Mosher - Conservation Commission Representative

Kirsten Moore - Town Moderator

Judy Sneath - Planning Board Representative

Meghan Buhr - Housing Authority

Vacant - appointed byTown Moderator

Kristen can be reached at kristen@hinghamcurrent.com.