BRATTLEBORO—The Brattleboro Housing Authority Housing Alternative Study committee has revealed its short list of eight potential public housing sites..
Adam Hubbard, a committee member and a project manager with Stevens & Associates, told an audience of about 25 gathered in the Hayes Court community room last Thursday that the BHA-owned Melrose Terrace and Hayes Court properties also made the cut.
The other sites included BHA’s Moore Court property on School Street, the large parking area next to Academy School on Western Avenue, a parcel owned by the Austine School, the Esancy Property on Western Avenue near Exit 2, the R.S. Roberts property on Fairground Road, and the Hannigan Field property on Partridge Road in Guilford.
In the wake of flooding from Tropical Storm Irene last year, the housing authority has embarked on a redevelopment of affordable housing options for its tenants.
The BHA, with help from Stevens & Associates, the town planning department, and community members serving on the 14-member planning committee, have an aggressive three-year timeline to build 152 new affordable housing units in town.
“We may end up with multiple sites around town,” said Hubbard. “The challenge for the housing authority is to build efficiently.”
He said that a complex of single-story structures like Melrose would not be built today. The layout does not allow the allotted land to be used efficiently.
The projected cost stands between $10 to $12 million, said BHA Executive Director Chris Hart.
In its purpose and need statements, the committee said it wants “to provide low to moderate income residents, seniors, and individuals with disabilities with a safe, accessible, affordable, and appealing place to live.”
The committee continued, “Any proposal will need to be mutually beneficial to the residents, the community, and Whetstone Brook. The project will need to meet all regulatory and funding requirements of private, local, state, and federal bodies.”
Committee members reviewed a list of 25 properties before quickly whittling the list to eight. According to Hubbard, the chosen eight will receive deeper site and feasibility studies to determine suitability.
Review criteria included safety and security, accessibility, proximity to services, cost, integration with existing communities, ease of building on site, flood hazard/natural resource impacts, and aesthetics.
According to the committee, the BHA owns and manages 284 affordable housing units with 152 located at Melrose and Hayes.
Damage from Tropical Storm Irene last August highlighted complexities facing the housing authority. Post-Irene, the BHA commissioners rebuilt homes damaged at Melrose to rehouse 80 displaced residents. Meanwhile, the BHA said it knew it needed a long-term solution.
According to Hart, most of BHA’s Melrose Terrace property, designed for senior and disabled tenants, sits in the Whetstone Brook’s flood plain.
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