Friday, February 6, 2004
CPC supports Benfield land acquisition, urges further planning
The boards and committees that comprise the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) unanimously supported the acquisition of 45 acres of Benfield land using Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds, but raised questions about subsequent use, including who would have control of the parcel, how the land would be developed, and what future development would cost.
The Community Preservation Committee (CPC) met at Town Hall on Wednesday, January 28, to share feedback from their boards and committees. Each CPC member represents a town board or committee that met in the past two weeks to debate the proposed Benfield land acquisition. CPC is charged with crafting the motion for the March 23 Town Meeting when residents will approve or reject the use of CPA funds to purchase the land.
One by one, CPC members reported on their committees' meetings. The Planning Board approved the acquisition but raised several concerns about the need for further planning after Town Meeting approves the acquisition. The board recommended including $50,000 for long-range planning in the motion and hiring a professional planner, using CPA funds.
The Recreation Commission, too, was in favor of the acquisition. Their concerns centered on the need for ball fields, and they questioned who would have control of the 21-acre multi-use parcel. The Historical Commission supported the proposal, as did the Housing Authority ("100% behind it") which recommended proper site control in the interest of affordable housing. The Conservation Commission "unanimously approved" the purchase.
Vivian Chaput, the Board of Selectmen's representative to the CPC, said the Selectmen were "very enthusiastic and gave their full support, with one recusal." She also emphasized the importance of including planning money in the motion, the need for an overall site plan, and recommended that "townspeople should be involved in the planning."
Following the committee reports, the CPC — with lively input from a large audience — discussed the content of the motion, with a consensus that it include the final purchase amount, request funds to develop a plan to be presented to the 2005 Town Meeting and name specific uses for the property.
The need for a professional planner drew considerable discussion and raised many questions. Who would the planner report to? What qualifications are required? How much will a planner cost? Can the planner be instructed to look at specifics of housing, recreation and ball fields? The names of potential candidates will be given to the CPC.
© 2004 The