Sunday, September 25, 2011

2011 Kuehn Award Honoring Marilee Kenney Hunt

On Tuesday, September 27th at 10:30 AM, at the State House, Marilee Kenney Hunt will be one of ten recipients of the 2011 Kuehn Award, honoring the heroes of the first decade of the Community Preservation Act (CPA).

The Robert Kuehn Community Preservation Awards were developed to honor the memory and work of Bob Kuehn. Bob, a tireless advocate for affordable housing, was actively involved in the process of drafting and passing the CPA, signed into law in the fall of 2000. Bob was also one of the founders and main supporters of the Community Preservation Coalition, and served as Vice Chair of its Steering Committee until his death in June of 2006.

Since 2006 Marilee Kenney Hunt has been the Citizen at Large and Chairperson of Bridgewater’s Community Preservation Committee (CPC). I have personally witnessed her leadership on that Committee when I served as its Administrative Assistant and as citizens of Bridgewater, we have all benefited from the fruits of the Committee’s labor with Marilee Kenney Hunt at its helm.

The CPC members are appointed by State statute, as a result of each of their roles on other committees or boards within Bridgewater. One might say forming a committee in such a way could have been a recipe for disaster; as the parties are not necessarily brought together with the same passion, vision or insight that might otherwise evolve from a volunteer committee. It is due primarily to Marilee’s incredible leadership skills, always thoughtful process and unending dedication to the CPC and the CPA itself that the Committee is not only functioning well but thriving. Marilee immersed herself in all the regulations, twists and turns and general confusion that the CPA presented and in five short years has created a viable vehicle with all the processes in place to effectively manage the CPA funds.

There are varied opinions about the CPA’s effectiveness, purpose, implementation, funding, role within a community and role of its members. In fact the Act itself is written in such a way so as to provide the various communities that sign onto it the ability to mold their committees to meet the needs of their own communities. Whatever your opinion might have been prior to Bridgewater signing this Act into law, one cannot deny the acumen with which the Committee has acted on behalf of the Town in its fiduciary responsibilities; its foresight; implementation of the act; and its professionalism during its infancy. In my personal opinion, this Committee would have ceased to function long ago if not for Marilee Kenney Hunt and the astute way she has lead the CPC and dealt with the myriad of obstacles the Committee has faced.

Since the CPA’s passage in Bridgewater, the CPC has been responsible for funding $1,474,390 worth of projects throughout Bridgewater that, given the economy and the current state of our Town, would never have come to fruition otherwise. Roughly $1,000,000 of those funds have gone to Historic Restoration for projects such as restoring the Town Hall and some areas of the Academy Building; installing an HVAC system in the Library to protect historic documents; assuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act in the Academy Building restrooms; binding and restoring the vital town records from 1656 to 1956; and replacing the fence around the Mt. Prospect Cemetery. The balance of the funds have gone to Open Space, Recreation, Affordable Housing and administration surrounding such projects as the Girl’s Softball fields; replacing a roof on the Scotland Congregational Church; and hiring a Preservation Planner and Grant Writer to enhance the CPA goals and objectives; a position that Marilee advocated for personally for many years. That Preservation Planner and Grant Writer has in turn been responsible for negotiating savings or cash that total just short of another $1,000,000.

We are all very lucky to have Marilee Kenney Hunt’s intelligence, dedication, passion and incredible management and people skills working for Bridgewater’s CPA.

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