What’s The Ground Breaking News in Hamilton?, The Hamilton-Wenham Chronicle, June 15, 2011

Firehouse Place affordable housing officially digs in

Digging in during ground-breaking ceremonies, June 13, are supporters of the Firehouse Place project. Jared Ward, Member of First Church Wenham, Brian Gregory of First Baptist Church Beverly, Connie Cogswell of MA Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Bree Horowitz of CEDAC, Kathryn McHugh of Boston Community Capital, Dave Carey of Hamilton BoS, Jennifer Scuteri of Hamilton BoS, Margo Casey of United Way of the North Shore, Ann Marie Cullen of Acord, Brad Hill State Rep, Deborah Rosser of MassDevelopoment.

By Sam Trapani/strapani@wickedlocal.com

Hamilton-Wenham ” WHAT’S GOING ON HERE   What’s the ground breaking news in Hamilton?

The question

Monday morning, June 13, about 50 people gathered in front of the Acord Food Pantry. Residents driving by could see a row of shiny, silver shovels lined up against the building with white construction hats being donned by various business owners and politicians. So why did town and state officials along with residents circle around in front of this building at 69 Willow Street, Hamilton?

The Answer

It was the official ground breaking ceremony that signals the construction phase for the renovation of the Firehouse Place affordable housing project in Hamilton. It is historic in that the building is  the town’s original firehouse. But even more importantly, it is the first housing project  for the Town of Hamilton CPA funding (Community Preservation Act) creating the towns first ‘affordable housing’ projects. Although the scale is small, just 4 affordable units, through this project it will enable the Acord Food Pantry to have a permanent home on the first floor which otherwise would have been uprooted if a market developer purchased the property.

Carol Suleski, President of Harborlight Community Partners, who were the catalyst for this project welcomed the crowd of people. Suleski said of the 14 various funding sources it took to pull this project off, that it goes to show that, the total is greater than the sum of its parts.  Suleski said the ground breaking was the realization of a dream of everyone involved in the project. The goal is for an 18-20 week construction phase with residents being able to move into the apartments in the fall.

Suleski read the long list of funding sources that Harborlight Executive Director, Andrew DeFranza, masterfully orchestrated.

State Rep. Brad Hill said that the project had been quite a journey. Harborlight Community Partners was originally approached in 2008 by Hamilton community members concerned with how to preserve the building at 69 Willow Street as a space for the Acord Food Pantry.

First Congregational Church parishioner, Jared Ward, had the idea to preserve Acord’s space and utilize the upper floor apartments as affordable housing. That idea is now coming to fruition after three years of perseverance. As a lifelong resident of Hamilton and Wenham I am pleased to have been able to see my original concept come to fruition through the hard work of so many people.  said Ward.

Hill said that the Hamilton site was exactly the type of multi-benefit resource that law-makers had in mind when they came up with the Community Preservation Act.   Hamilton Selectman Dave Carey was singled out by Hill for his continued advocacy  for the project. And Carey in turn gave a shout out to Harborlight. A town could never do this alone,  Carey said of the hundreds of pages of proposals DeFranza put together.

Senator Bruce Tarr was also on hand to celebrate the significance of the day. Tarr said he was proud of what the town of Hamilton with Harborlight Community Partners was able to achieve in providing housing and food, the basis of human needs to build a stronger community. 

Hamilton Selectman Dave Carey speaking to the crowd gathered in front of the ground breaking ceremony at 69 Willow Street. Listening to Carey are Carol Suleski, President of Harborlight Community Partners, Robert Gillis, Vice President of HCP, and State Senator Bruce Tarr.

Hamilton Selectmen Jennifer Scuteri and Dave Carey with Hamilton Town Manager Michael Lombardo and Hamilton Police Chief Russ Stevens at the groundbreaking ceremonies for Firehouse Place

What this means to you

Residents should be aware, and patient, that 69 Willow Street will be a construction site for the next 4 months or so. The Acord Food Pantry will have a temporary space in the Council on Aging building at 299 Bay Road, the former children’s room in the old library.

Anne Marie Cullen, who has been working with Acord Food Pantry for over 20 years said that they are grateful for the temporary space. And we are so happy we no longer have to worry about where Acord will have to go. We now have a permanent home. 

Managing Director of the Acord Food Pantry, Deby Baker, echoes that sentiment. With the temporary space, it allows us to still have donations dropped off during normal business hours. We hope to be set up and ready in our temporary space by Wednesday evening’s hours so our client’s don’t miss a beat,  Baker said.

For donations to Acord Food Pantry:

Drop off at temporary site: 299 Bay Road in the COA building, Hamilton.

Wednesday 6:30 8 p.m.   and Saturday 9 a.m. 12 Noon.

Donations can also be dropped off at the Hamilton-Wenham Library during normal business hours.

Visit acordfoodpantry.org for more information.

Visit harborlightcp.org for information on living in one of their properties or to make a charitable contribution.

Special thanks to the Funders and Financing Partners who made this project possible:

Town of Hamilton, Community Preservation Fund, Acord Food Pantry, North Shore HOME Consortium, First Baptist Church of Beverly, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Dept. of Housing and Community Development, Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Community Economic Development Assistance Corp., Boston Community Capital, MassDevelopment, Beverly Cooperative Bank, North Shore United Way, Beverly National Bank/Danversbank, Architect: Siemasko & Verbridge, Contractor: Martins Construction Company.

Martins Construction Co. and Boy Scouts assist Acord Food Pantry With Move

Saturday, June 11, employees of Martins Construction Company, Inc., along with members of Boy Scout Troop # 28 of Wenham, assisted the Acord Food Bank in moving their operation from their home at 69 Willow Street in Hamilton to a new temporary location at 229 Bay Road, Hamilton, also the home of the Hamilton Council on Aging. This move will allow Martins Construction Company to begin renovation and construction work at the 69 Willow Street location the following week.

The folks at the Acord pantry do so much for so many and we are just happy to be able to help them out  said Al Martins, President of Martins Construction Company, Inc.

Acord Food Pantry in Hamilton, MA has provided food assistance to residents of Hamilton, Wenham, and several nearby communities since 1991. Acord is a non-denominational, non-profit, grassroots organization staffed by more than 100 local volunteers. Acord is a partner of the Greater Boston Food Bank and the Merrimack Valley Food Bank, and a member of the North Shore Hunger Network.

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