Menotmy Manor window issues

The Community Preservation Act Committee (CPAC) met Wednesday, Jan. 26, in its ongoing review of nearly $3.5 million in funding requests from 13 townwide applicants. That includes the $1 million for windows sought by theArlington Housing Authority (AHA).

Arlington voters supported the CPA in November 2014. The measure provides cities and towns with dedicated funds to preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing, and develop open space and recreational facilities. The fund is financed through a property-tax surcharge, plus annual distributions from the Massachusetts Community Preservation Fund.

The CPAC has a record number of final applicants for this fiscal year as compared to past years, and has approximately $3 million in funds to distribute.

Executive Director Jack Nagle presented the authority’s proposal for the Menotomy Manor window-replacement project to the eight-member committee, which includes AHA commissioner and Vice Chair Jo Anne Preston, who worked with Nagle to submit the extensive documentation required.

“We are requesting that the CPA commit $500,000 over two years, for a total of $1 million,” Nagle said during the Zoom meeting.

The AHA is a state agency that owns or manages rental housing for low-income, elderly and disabled Arlington residents through its apartment buildings, family-housing complex, some scattered-site properties as well as Section 8 housing vouchers.

The window-replacement project, estimated to cost from $4 million-to-$6 million, would replace the 37-year-old aluminum-frame windows in the 126 brick apartments and 53 units in duplex-style buildings with energy-efficient units.

“The goal of this project is to address water damage, draftiness and security concerns related to the current state of Menotomy Manor [windows],” wrote Nagle in the application.

Architect outlines preservation vision

David Pollack, partner at Abacus Architects + Planners, said the goal of this project was “the preservation of Menotomy Manor family housing,” which is the largest development of its type in Arlington. It is home to more than more than 500 residents including 200 children.

The family-housing complex in East Arlington was originally called Veterans Housing in 1950, when it opened, to serve the needs of returning World War II veterans and their families. Some of the goals of CPAC are to “preserve or restore historic resources,” and to “help meet local families’ housing needs.”

Depending on funding streams, the project's scope and goals are potentially larger than just the windows.

“The brick walls of the brick buildings are uninsulated, and the brick is deteriorating,” said Pollack, illustrating his presentation with pictures of exterior damage to the buildings’ façade. “The lower-cost approach is the restoration of the masonry. It’s never been comprehensively repointed in the 70-plus years since these buildings were built. That’s a minimum”

A more comprehensive and expensive plan would address the building envelope problems.

“Putting insulation with siding on the outside of the buildings is what’s being studied now,” Pollack said. “That would significantly increase the performance and life of the buildings.”

Manor residents support project

After the presentation by Nagle and Pollack, Chair Clarissa Rowe recognized officers of the Menotomy Manor tenants’ association, who spoke in support of the funding application. 

“The windows are awful,” said Secretary Lisa Hersey. “You can feel the wind blowing. It is very cold, very drafty. We pay our own utilities here. It’s not included in our rent.”

President Jen Hernandez spoke to structural problems with the widows. “They don’t go all the way down. They don’t go all the way up. Sometimes, they fall on your head. There’s not one problem you could not have with these windows.”

The Select Board has allocated the AHA $2.5 million in Town of Arlington American Rescue Plan Act money. The state agency is also applying for $500,000 in High Leverage Asset Preservation Program money from the Department of Housing and Community Development. If funded the requested $1 million by the CPA, the AHA will have $4 million of the $6 million to replace windows.

According to the application, “We are currently in the process of raising funds through grants and other sources. [Depending] on the amount of money we receive, parts of the project may need to be phased.”

CPA support for AHA

In the years that it has submitted an application, the CPA has been a source of funding for the housing authority. Under former executive director John Griffin, there were no requests for funding in fiscal years 2018, 2020 or 2021.

“For a long while, we didn’t have any AHA requests,” noted committee member Leslie Mayer during the meeting.

Since its first funding cycle, in fiscal 2017, the committee has allocated roughly $1.3 million to the housing authority. If approved for the fiscal 2023 request, Nagle will accomplish in one application cycle what took four previous funding cycles for the authority to realize.

Rowe called the Menotomy Manor project “important,” adding, “We will be determining what projects will move on to Town Meeting for approval. But I think this is a really worthwhile project – a tremendously worthwhile project - and I thank you for bringing it to us.”  

Preston praised the collaboration between AHA management and manor residents in bringing the application to the CPAC.

“This is really a cooperative project,” she said. “They’ve been working together, first on the proposal, but also on when we move forward about what needs to be done. Those windows really need to be replaced.”

Funding timeline

The committee hears from additional applicants Wednesday, Feb.2, at 6 p.m. Sometime this month, the committee expects to select recommended projects and consult with other town leadership. In March, the committee plans to complete the recommended projects and seek the approval of Town Meeting , which begins in April. 

Jan. 24, 2022: Authority discussed space-heater use days before deadly fire 

This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Melanie Gilbert, was published Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022.