Friday, January 16, 2004
Selectmen support CPA land purchase Special Town Meeting possible on March 23
At a marathon meeting that lasted until midnight on January 13, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to support four motions aimed at expediting the town purchase of Parcel A of the Benfield land on South Street. (See story) Selectman John Ballantine presented an overview of the proposed land purchase as Carlisle Conservation Foundation (CCF) representative Greg Peterson and members of the Conservation Preservation Act (CPA) Committee looked on and provided support from the audience.
Ballantine emphasized that the $2 million purchase would be realized entirely through CPA funds with no incremental increase in taxes. However, acquisition of the 24 acres of open space and 21 acres for recreation and housing use requires two-thirds approval at a Special Town Meeting, no later than March, to allow closing by the April 7 deadline. The current balance in the CPA fund is $900,000, with an additional $240,000 expected in May 2004. One possible scenario is to use $500,000 from the CPA fund as down payment and then pay off the $1,500,000 balance with a 15-year bond paid by CPA receipts of approximately $130K per year.
The CCF option to purchase the land expires by April 21. Due diligence has been completed, with wetlands flagged, perc tests observed, and no site issues apparent. It is developable land with a clear title and features fields, wetlands, vistas, and trails abutting Spencer Brook and South Street. The Municipal Land Committee has pointed out many times that little municipal land is available for future recreation, housing, and schools. The Selectmen were aware of this as they initiated a series of actions at Tuesday's meeting to expedite the purchase.
Their first proposed initiative enables the Selectmen, on behalf of the town and pending Town Meeting approval, to enter into an option agreement with the CCF. Since all fund requests presented to the CPA committee must be sponsored, the Selectmen then moved to sponsor the parcel A acquisition. In a third motion, the board authorized the use of town counsel to formulate the option agreement. And to wrap it up, the Selectmen set a tentative date of March 23 for a Special Town Meeting and formally opened a Warrant. All four motions were unanimously approved by the four board members, with Chair Tim Hult, who has worked with the CCF, recused to avoid conflict of interest.
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