Plymouth’s Community Preservation Committee is proposing to use town funds to buy property owned by a former selectman and use it for affordable housing.
The real estate sits on the corner of Court and South Spooner streets in North Plymouth, and includes a five-bedroom house at 366 Court St. and Quintal Brothers Fruit Market on South Spooner Street.
If a Special Town Meeting approves the article on April 6, the town would buy the property from former selectman Richard “Dick” J. Quintal Jr. for $400,000 and turn it over to the Plymouth Task Force for the Homeless. The town would also provide an additional $20,000 to make improvements to the home, so the task force could offer the space as affordable housing for formerly homeless people.
Quintal, 55, said he is looking to “downsize” and eventually retire, and he believes it is a good use of the property. The task force “approached me probably about a year ago,” said Quintal, who agreed to the proposal after much consideration. “I always like to do stuff for the community.”
Quintal said he has no plans to shut down his fruit and produce business. If the article is approved by Special Town Meeting, Quintal said he would have 18 to 24 months to move his fruit stand. One possibility would be to relocate it to his company’s warehouse on Scobee Circle, he said.
If voters approve, it would not be the first time Plymouth has used Community Preservation Act money to address homelessness. In 2010, the town bought a duplex at 368-370 Court St., next to Quintal’s property, and granted it to the Plymouth Task Force for the Homeless, which had previously been renting space there since 2005.
Connie Melahoures, president and cofounder of the task force, said she is hopeful that the Special Town Meeting article will pass so her group can expand its services on Court Street.
“We’ve been very pleased with the support that the CPC [Community Preservation Committee] and the town have given us,” she said. “The town ultimately has the final decision.”
Plymouth’s Community Preservation Committee was formed in 2002 when the town adopted the Community Preservation Act, the state law that allows municipalities to impose a surcharge of up to 3 percent on property taxes and receive matching state funds that can be used for specific purposes such as open space protection, historic preservation, affordable housing, and outdoor recreation. Plymouth levies a 1.5 percent surcharge, which generates, on average, $1.5 to $2 million a year in Community Preservation Act funds. The Community Preservation Committee is in charge of making recommendations to Town Meeting on how to use the money.
During the past 11 years, Plymouth has appropriated more than $21 million in Community Preservation Act funds, $11.6 million of which has gone to open space; $4.7 million to historic preservation; $3.7 million to housing; and $917,505 to recreation-related projects, said the Community Preservation Coalition, an advocacy group that tracks Community Preservation Act spending across the state. Plymouth’s CPA chairman says that its coffers have been bolstered by matching funds, grants, and financial partners.
The Plymouth Task Force for the Homeless currently provides housing for eight formerly homeless men and two staff managers at its duplex at 368-370 Court St., according to Melahoures.
She said the five-bedroom home at 366 Court St. would be used in a similar fashion, operating as “permanent housing for formerly homeless individuals.” It would contain five housing units, one of which would be for the house manager. The task force has not yet decided how it would use Quintal’s fruit stand; it would most likely be used for office space or rented out to social service agencies, she said.
Melahoures said the need for the five units is there: “There’s still a lot of folks without housing,” she said.
She said Plymouth has seen the number of homeless rise recently. During the winter, the emergency homeless shelter in town hosted an average of 15 to 16 individuals a night, she said. One night, there were 24 people seeking shelter, she said.
The emergency shelter’s location rotates each week among five houses of worship in Plymouth.
Bill Keohan, chairman of the Community Preservation Committee, said he thinks the proposal to buy Quintal’s property is a good idea because the task force already operates out of the duplex next door.
“When you try to bring housing like this into a neighborhood, usually there is a lot of resistance,” said Keohan, noting that the corner of Court and South Spooner streets is surrounded by businesses but that the neighborhood maintains a residential appearance.
“We saw it as a unique opportunity,” he said. “We want people living in the house not to feel segregated from the community.”
Another interesting aspect of the property is the 9/11 Memorial that Quintal created in 2004. The granite stone monument, which lists the names of thousands of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., is located behind the house at 366 Court St. and beside the fruit stand on South Spooner Street.
Quintal said he wants to make sure the memorial is preserved properly, and it is possible that it could be moved.
Keohan said the Community Preservation Committee has proposed a separate article on the Town Meeting warrant to allocate $350,000 to acquire almost a quarter of an acre at 308 Court St. and create a “recreational pedestrian entrance” to the Veterans Park next door.
The Veterans Park could then potentially be a home for the 9-11 Memorial, he said, although no plans have been made yet.
Quintal said the Greater Plymouth Chamber of Commerce has also expressed interest in having the memorial placed in front of its building at 134 Court St. But it is possible it will stay where it is.
“The memorial doesn’t go anywhere without my OK,” said Quintal, who said he plans to consult with families of 9/11 victims from the area to see what they say about moving it.Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.