In Somers, Senator Kissel helps dedicate Woodcrest updates [Journal Inquirer]

November 17, 2011

By Heather Linder
Journal Inquirer
Published: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 11:06 AM EST

SOMERS — Though construction crews are several months into work on phase two of the Woodcrest housing complex, officials broke ceremonial ground Tuesday morning at 71 Battle St. to dedicate the structure.

Somers town officials joined with private and government investors who financed the Woodcrest renovation and addition to celebrate their accomplishment.

“Woodcrest provides a level of safe and reasonable quality housing for low-income folks that would certainly not be available otherwise,” Housing Authority Chairman David Pinney said.

Phase two consists of constructing a 34-unit building and adding 26 units to the existing complex for a total of 146 housing units for low-income individuals and families.

Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, and Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, R-Somers, spoke at the ceremony. Each congratulated town officials and thanked the officials for allowing them to play a role in the project.

Kissel called Woodcrest “a gem and a beacon.”

The $18 million updates to Woodcrest, including the $11.6 million for phase two, were financed through a combination of grants, loans, and tax credits.

Rockville Bank provided Somers with a below market-rate mortgage and sponsored a Federal Home Loan Bank grant.

“It makes your job fun when you see your dollars produce something so positive for the community,” William DeMore, Rockville’s vice president of commercial banking, said.

Catherine Smith, chairperson of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority and commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, was the honored guest at Tuesday’s groundbreaking.

Somers did not receive any grants from the state development agency to finance Woodcrest, but First Selectwoman Lisa Pellegrini said inviting Smith to the event was “a nice way to show her what we’re doing.”

Pellegrini added that Woodcrest aligns with the main goals of Smith’s agency by creating construction jobs and providing affordable housing.

“It’s a terrific example of the partnership that can happen from drawing upon your teams,” Smith said about the collaboration it took to complete the Woodcrest project.

Phase one of construction finished last October, and Pellegrini expects phase two to be completed within a year.

Bacchiochi, referencing the “Star Wars” film saga, said “the Force” has certainly been with the Somers Housing Authority and the town of Somers as they worked to complete the “beautiful” Woodcrest updates.

“The puzzle all came together,” she said.