NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – A third Hampshire County community has voted to use Community Preservation Act funds for the restoration of the old Hampshire County Courthouse on Main Street in Northampton. Hatfield voters approved the CPA gift during their annual town meeting on May 9.
About $4 million is needed to restore the courthouse building, which was constructed back in 1886. The courthouse is actually owned by “the inhabitants of Hampshire County,” rather than the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The state, therefore, is not directly responsible for its upkeep, as opposed to the current Hampshire County Courthouse on Gothic Street, which the state owns and maintains.
According to the Hampshire Council of Governments (which is overseeing the restoration effort), the Legislature included funding to restore the courthouse in the 2015 capital bond bill, but so far, the state Division of Capital Asset Management only released $500,000. That money was used last year to restore the stairs and portico roof. The CPA funding that Hatfield approved, and which was also approved by Goshen and Northampton, is dependent upon the state releasing the remaining bond funds for the project.
In addition to the CPA funds (Northampton recently increased their contribution from $100,000 to $200,000), the Hampshire Council of Governments has also collected $38,000 in donations from local financial institutions and more than $168,000 from private donations.
The Community Preservation Act allows cities and towns to collect additional revenue, which can be put toward open space preservation, historical preservation, affordable housing, and recreation. CPA funding is comes from an additional surcharge on property tax bills.