20 Feb

Grant helps homeowners get the lead out

Reprinted from the Sentinel and Enterprise

By Joe Atmonavage

jatmonavage@sentinelandenterprise.com

FITCHBURG — When Brian Taylor purchased a Summer Street property in April, hoping to provide quality low-income housing for families while turning a profit, he was going through his checklist of refurbishing the more than 100-year-old, three-unit property when he realized lead was going to have be removed.

While looking to hire a contractor to do the work, he was alerted that the city had money available to help investors and homeowners delead their properties.

SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / ASHLEY GREEN

Taylor, owner of 347 Summer St. in Fitchburg, speaks about the Montachusett Regional Lead Paint Hazard Control program.

 In July, the Montachusett Regional Lead Paint Hazard Control program, which serves Fitchburg, Gardner, Clinton and Athol, received $3.2 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to pay for the inspection and deleading of 150 qualified homes at up to $10,000 each over the course of three years.

Seventy-five percent of Fitchburg homes built before 1978 screened positive for lead, and the screening rate for the city in 2015 was 58 percent, making Fitchburg one of the communities on the state’s “high-risk list for childhood lead poisoning,” said Jenna David, environmental programs director for Montachusett Opportunity Council, a partner in the deleading program.

Since 1978, state law requires any home with children 6 or younger to be inspected and made “ lead safe” by professionals because those children are “ especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

“This work would have been done, regardless of the program, but given that the program was available to me, it was extremely beneficial to me because it is saving me quite a bit of money,” Taylor said. “The other aspect is it really integrates you with the town and helps you understand the priorities of what the city of Fitchburg is about, which is providing healthy low income housing.”

Building owners in Fitchburg who apply for the program must have tenants who live in two bedroom apartments or larger and have a median income below $52,550.

For single-family homeowners, they must have a child under age 6 living in the home or visiting at least six hours a week. The household must have an income below $65,700.

Taylor, a Concord resident and a father of three, said safety of his residents is his No. 1 priority as landlord, and programs like these make it easy to protect families from dangerous conditions.

“If we are going to rent this out to anyone, we want healthy, safe spaces for people, and part of that is making sure there is no lead that is going to create a danger or pose a threat to a child,” Taylor said.

And while Taylor said the process, from applying for the money to meeting with a contractor the city brought in to do the work to the actually deleading of the property, was “seamless,” few others in Fitchburg have taken advantage of the available money.

In Fitchburg, only nine properties have completed the deleading process, said Shannon Erb, the coordinator for NewVue Communities, another partner in the program. There are 15 active cases in the city, she said.

“It has been a little slow going,” said Liz Murphy, Fitchburg’s director of housing and development. “We are not sure why folks aren’t applying. We have gotten quite a few applications, but not as many cases.”

When the city received the money in July, Murphy said the challenge of the program was going to be making sure they reach those residents who can, and should, apply. To do that, the program partners are increasing their outreach. Erb said NewVue, which handles the application process, has been doing direct mailing and holding meetings with various organizations about the program.

“We are hoping as the spring comes in, we increase the number of people who do the program,” said Madeline Mendoza, NewVue Communities’ homeownership program manager. “Overall, it has been positive,” said Mendoza. Homeowners “are grateful for the advantage of this program. They have been grateful and happy with it.”

Taylor is one of those residents — he stumbled upon the program — and he encourages anyone who has concerns about lead levels in their home to apply for the program.

“I would highly recommend to anyone who is looking to buy some investor property in Fitchburg or if you are a homeowner in Fitchburg, you should definitely think about it,” he said. “It is a win-win. It is a win for the city. It is a win for the people who live in the building,” Taylor added. “I can’t be more enthusiastic about the program.”

Brian Taylor, owner of 347 Summer St. in Fitchburg, talks about taking advantage of a grant to help remove lead from homes in the city.

SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / ASHLEY GREEN

25 Jan

Beemers Pub & Grill Grand Opening

Reprinted from Sentinel and Enterprise.

FITCHBURG — After Beemers Pub & Grill burned down in March 2015, it was a treacherous road for owner Pete Cote to find a new location and reopen the business.

But he did, opening up the restaurant and bar on Main Street in September.

Now Cote is giving residents another option as the Falcons Nest Sports Bar opened up below Beemers at 310 Main St.

“I am calm,” Cote said after a hectic past year. “It is a whole burden off me. Now it is time to really focus on the business side of things.”

The intention when he purchased the building was to always have two establishments, giving patrons and local residents options.

Beemer’s Pub owner Pete Cote has opened the Falcons Nest Sports Bar in the ground level of Beemer’s. A pub menu is abailable as well as pool

Originally, Cote said, he wanted to do dining upstairs and a nightclub downstairs, but after speaking with people, he decided on a dining area upstairs, Beemers Pub, and “relaxed” sports bar downstairs, offering “pub food,” pool tables, virtual sports games and full bar.

The menu includes burgers, hot dogs, cajun shrimp, chicken wings or tenders, quesadillas, and other typical sports bar food. The food will be prepared in the Beemers kitchen, Cote said. The same 16 beers on tap at Beemers will be on tap at the Falcons Nest.

He said he plans on expanding the menu for the sports bar slightly to included various dishes from upstairs.

“This will be a twist on the upstairs food,” Cote said.

 The Falcons Nest, which can hold up to approximately 150 people, will be available for private parties as well as a pool league. Cote bought two Diamond Billiards pool tables to “draw a better class of pool players.”

“No place around here has Diamond tables,” he said.

“When you go out to Vegas, those are the tables you play on.”

Cote said he has teams lined up for the pool league and hopes to have it begin soon.

 He said with both businesses opening during the holiday season, he expects them to struggle early on, but he hopes when people go out to eat, they spend their money in Fitchburg.

“It helps everybody,” he said. “If you spend locally, things will improve.”

He said the goal of having Beemers upstairs and Falcons Nest downstairs is so people can have a quality sit-down meal upstairs and head downstairs to hang out and socialize, or head straight to the sports bar to watch a game and grab a quick meal.

“It’s different down here,” Cote said. “It is a relaxing atmosphere.”

Beemer’s Pub owner Pete Cote has opened the Falcons Nest Sports Bar in the ground level of Beemer’s. A pub menu is available as well as pool tables.
24 Jan

Thank you to our generous donors of 2016! We utilized all of our Community Investment Tax Credits!

NewVue Communities would like to thank each and every one of our donors who made 2016 a success!  Your support makes our work in our communities possible and we couldn’t be more thankful for your gift.

Big thanks to our corporate and individual donors that utilized the Community Investment Tax Credit, we were able to utilize all of our 2016 credits!

2016 Corporate CITC Supporters

Alexander, Aronson, Finning & Co., P.C.
Athol Savings Bank
bankHometown
Davis Square Architects
Dorfman Company, Inc.
Eastern Bank
Enterprise Bank
Fidelity Bank
Hackett Feinberg PC
The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts
Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation
Rollstone Bank &  Trust
Resource Management, Inc.
Wingate Management Co., LLC

 

23 Dec

Time is Running Out to Take Advantage of Tax Credits

Time is Running Out to Take Advantage of the State’s 50% Tax Credit

Donate to NewVue Communities by 12/31/16 and receive a 50% Tax Credit 

The Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) is a refundable state tax credit aimed at forging new financial support and partnerships in support of community development corporations such as NewVue Communities. The CITC program enhances community support for the work of organizations like NewVue Communities. This program provides a 50% tax credit against Commonwealth of Massachusetts tax liability.

The CITC program is a refundable tax credit.

Donors will invest in the agency’s Community Investment Plan (i.e. our business plan) providing flexible working capital that can be used to seed new programs, fill funding gaps and leverage other resources and achieve maximum impact. If the donor does not have sufficient tax liability, the credit is refundable, whereby the Commonwealth will issue a check for the balance of the credit to the donor.

DONATE ONLINE TODAY

You can also make a CITC donation by calling or emailing:

Lisa Dutton-SwainResource Development Director
lds@nvcomm.org
Direct: 978-400-0171

31 Oct

Young treaters take to the streets in the Twin Cities

By Elizabeth Dobbins

Reprinted from the Sentinel and Enterprise

edobbins @sentinelandenterprise.com

The streets of downtown Fitchburg and Leominster were each filled with monsters and superheroes during the cities’ annual Halloween events on Saturday. “This is our downtown, and we want people to come down and really enjoy it,” said Tricia Pistone, project director of ReImagine North of Main, of the Fitchburg event. “Not just today but allyear long.” Children, parents and dogs wore costumes to trick or treat at local businessesin the downtowns

of both cities. For some, like Fran Henderson, manager of Coldwell Banker in Leominster, passing out treats to children is a yearly tradition.

“It’s fun. We do it every year,” she said. “I thinkit’s a great way to give back to the community.”

For others, including Fitchburg resident John Chevrette, venturing into the downtown of his city is a rarity.

“I just learned we have two Chinese businesses right next to each other, so I get to learn about the businesses as well,” he said.

“Yeah, there’s a lot of different things I didn’t know,” added his wife, Tanya Chevrette. “I didn’t knowthere was a tattoo parlor.”

The Chevrettes came with their three children, 12-year-old Max, 2-yearold Wednesday, and Frankie, who was dressed as Supergirl and celebrating her fourth birthday. Her favorite part of the day: “getting lollipops.”

Audrey Chow was standing outside her business, Curious Escape Rooms, which opened this summer in Fitchburg.

“(Escape rooms are) more of an adult thing but these kids were coming with parents and a few people have already askedfor our cards,” she said.

Halfway through the Fitchburg event, about 1,200 people had stopped by Main Street to trick or treat, get balloon animals and participate in Halloween activities.

The event was hosted by New Vue Communities, the city of Fitchburg, ReImagine North of Main and Fitchburg Pride.

In Leominster, children were also trick-ortreating with parents at downtown businesses following the annual Halloween parade.

The event brought Fitchburg residents Nick and Lori DiPrima and their two children todowntown Leominster.

“We come to a lot of the festivals,” Lori DiPrimasaid. “We like Halloween. We like all the holidays, especially the autumn,” Nick DiPrima said. “Autumn in New England is the best time of year.”

Donna LaPointe, branch service specialist, was passing out candy in front of Enterprise Bank in downtown Leominster. She said the afternoon was a family-friendly event.

“It’s gone wonderfully,” she said. “It was nice to see families getting together.”

Follow Elizabeth Dobbins on Twitter and Tout@DobbinsSentinel.

SENTINEL ENTERPRISE PHOTOS / ASHLEY GREEN

13 May

Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home

The City of Fitchburg is a partnering with NewVue Communities, Montachusett Opportunity Council, Montachusett Public Health Network, and the participating communities of Gardner, Clinton, and Athol to form The Montachusett Regional Lead Paint Hazard Control Program. This Grant will provide funding to low and moderate income owner-occupants and investors who rent to low income tenants in these four communities to remove Lead Paint Hazards from their homes. Applications are now being accepted for the program.

 

Press Inquiries: Dorothy Preston
Program Manager, City of Fitchburg
166 Boulder Drive, Fitchburg, MA 01420
Dpreston@fitchburgma.gov (978-829-1859)

 

Applicant Contact: Shannon Erb
Intake Specialist, NewVue Communities
470 Main Street, Fitchburg, MA 01420
serb@nvcomm.org (978-400-0170)

http://newvuecommunities.org/home-ownership/

Lead is a highly toxic metal that may cause a range of health problems. Those most likely at risk are children 6 years and younger, pregnant women and unborn child, and people living in houses that are being renovated.

When lead is absorbed into the body, it can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs, like the kidneys, nerves and blood. Lead may also cause behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures, and in extreme cases, death. Some symptoms of lead poisoning may include headaches, stomachaches, nausea, tiredness and irritability, but often, children who are lead poisoned may show no symptoms at all.

Lead dust and lead paint in old homes can poison children. When old paint peels and cracks, it makes lead dust which can come from opening and closing old windows. There are risks both inside and outside the home. Deteriorated lead-paint mixes with household dust and soil and becomes tracked in. Children may become lead poisoned by:

  • Putting their hands or other lead-contaminated objects into their mouths.
  • Eating paint chips found in homes with peeling or flaking lead-based paint.
  • Playing in lead-contaminated soil.

The Lead Law protects families with children 6 years old and under who live in a home built before 1978. If there is lead paint in the home, the owner must use licensed professionals to make it safe.

The Montachusett Regional Lead Paint Hazard Control Program has published a brochure on Lead Paint Hazards that can be distributed freely in your community. The brochure can be downloaded as a PDF file from: http://newvuecommunities.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Lead-Paint_HUD-Brochure_NEW.pdf.

Lead Poisoning is a serious societal issue and one that all of us need to address. These are tough times. Help make them easier for a child at risk.

4 Dec

NewVue: New name, new vision

Twin Cities CDC marks 35th birthday with change to its moniker and mission

Sentinel & Enterprise Article 11/11/2015

Sentinel & Enterprise
By Anna Burgess
aburgess@sentinelandenterprise.com

LEOMINSTER — Twin Cities Community Development Corporation is 35 years old — and won’t get any older. Instead, it will move forward as NewVue Communities, a regional community-development organization. More

27 Oct

Twin Cities Accomplishment in Leominster, MA

Leominster factory-turned-affordable-apartments renamed Water Mill New name, new beginning

Sentinel & Enterprise Article 6/5/2012

By Jack Minch
jminch@sentinelandenterprise.com
@JackMinch on Twitter

LEOMINSTER — The former Whitney & Co. factory at the corner of Water and Whitney streets that is being renovated into 40 affordable-housing apartments was Dal renamed the Water Mill Apartments on Monday to coincide with NeighborWorks Week. More