State Hospital Memorial Eligible for CPA Funding

A memo sent out last week to the Northampton State Hospital Fountain Committee by Jacky Duda, the group's chair, announced that the committee is eligible to apply for Community Preservation Funds for the planning and building of a memorial on the former property of historic Northampton State Hospital. The memo accompanied minutes from the group's first meeting on January 3, 2010.

The group is a subcommittee of the Citizens' Advisory Committee (CAC) that has overseen the redevelopment of the site of the former hospital. When it was initially looking for developers for the site in the 1990s, the CAC mandated that prospective applicants include a memorial in the site plan. Last year, the CAC considered multiple locations for the proposed memorial—a cast iron fountain that once stood at the hospital's entrance. While it's been decided the fountain will play a central role in the memorial, no design or overall concept has yet been proposed due to lack of funding.

Community Preservation (CP) funds could change that.

A prior ad-hoc group considering the memorial had wanted the fountain placed as close to its original location as possible, but it was argued the site would be close to housing and not suitable for quiet contemplation. The site chosen for being suitable for such pursuits, some have argued, is so remote that it might not attract as many visitors. Facing the development from Route 66, it would be placed near the far left corner of the site, adjacent to one of the last hospital ward buildings.

Topics at the meeting included fundraising, website and marketing initiatives. Also discussed was whether the project's developer, Community Builders, was in any way financially obligated to support the project. Duda said she would seek clarification.

The CP funds, if granted, would "be used to hire a firm to oversee the project, and for initial fundraising expenses," the minutes stated. Those present discussed ideas for a kiosk and determined that emphasis ought to be "placed on telling the stories of patients and employees in their voices."

Duda's memo concludes that the group will not be ready to submit an application for CP funding by the February deadline, and will wait until August. "The interval is to our advantage," she wrote, "allowing us time to fundraise, and get public opinion on our side, which will strengthen the application."

Author: Mark Roessler

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