Two days after the Select Board voted not to reappoint Bill Keohan and Allen Hemberger to the Community Preservation Committee, the newly formed lineup did not wait for the two men’s terms to end June 30 before electing architect Bill Fornaciari as its new chair.    

Former fire chief Edward Bradley was elected vice chair and information technology consultant Len Levin was elected clerk. The two were selected by the Select Board to replace Keohan, the founding chair of the committee, and Hemberger, a supporter of what Keohan has characterized as an effort to keep recommendations on spending Community Preservation funds independent of town politics. 

The committee vets grant applications for some $4 million annually in grants to further historic preservation, open space and recreation, and affordable housing. The money comes from a surcharge on real estate bills. 

Mahoney, who serves as the Select Board’s representative on the committee – and who voted to oust Keohan and Hemberger Tuesday – praised them on Thursday evening. 

“I wanted to thank Mr. Keohan and Mr. Hemberger for their multiple decades of service to the community,” Mahoney said. “There’s been obviously some significant accomplishments this committee has done and without their contributions, some of the things wouldn’t have gotten done.”

Under Keohan’s leadership, the committee successfully proposed funding to preserve thousands of acres of open space, build hundreds of units of affordable housing, and to restore parks and historic buildings, including the Spire Center, the Center for the Arts, the restoration of the 1820 Courthouse – where the Community Preservation Committee meets – and the construction of Town Hall (which contains the courthouse).

The entrance to the historic 1820 Courthouse in Town Hall. The courthouse was restored using Community Preservation Act funds. It’s also where the Community Preservation Committee meets. Credit: (Photo by Wes Ennis)

“I’ve got some incredibly big shoes to fill,” said Fornaciari, who is an architect and a contributor to the Plymouth Independent. “Bill has steered the ship for over 20 years, and I think the town and myself are utterly grateful for Bill’s work. I hope I can live up to some of the great things that he did.” 

Fornaciari is also the Historic District Commission’s representative to the Community Preservation Committee.    

“Bill’s been a pillar of the community for decades,” said Mahoney. “I think he’ll be a wonderful chair over the next 12 months.” 

Select Board members pushed for more funding for affordable housing when they voted not to reappoint Keohan and Hemberger, who pushed back by pointing out that the Community Preservation Committee can only consider grants its receives and is bound to commit at least 10 percent of Community Preservation funds each to historic preservation and open space every year.    

Fornaciari, an advocate for historic preservation, said he is also looking forward to fielding requests for affordable housing grants. He said his daughter, a teacher in the Plymouth public schools, has found affordable housing in town, but many of her colleagues cannot.    

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to provide more affordable housing,” he said.    

Fred Thys can be reached at

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