Friday, December 5, 2008
Highland, Pathways projects go before CPA Committee
On December 1, the Community Preservation Committee spoke with representatives of the Highland Building and Pathways Committees, two groups planning to apply for Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding in the coming year. CPA monies are allocated to qualifying projects after review and recommendation by the CPC and approval by Annual Town Meeting in May.
Carlisle Town Treasurer Larry Barton presented an update on the current status of the four funds associated with the CPA. The four funds, allocated based on the guidelines of the CPA, are Open Space (10%), Historic (10%), Community Housing (10%) and Unrestricted (remaining 70%). The total fund balance is currently $1,436,950. While the state has historically matched Carlisle’s revenues from the 2% tax surcharge at 100%, the committee only budgeted for about 60% match in the current fiscal year. As a pleasant surprise, the actual state match was closer to 70%, resulting in a surplus of $69,733. The extra money will be allocated to the four funds and made available to recipients.
Newly re-elected committee chair Kelly Guarino pointed out that the group has never really had to prioritize projects. To date, they have had enough money to pay the full amount of all accepted projects. Guarino said the results from the Livable Carlisle’s Community’s planning day last April and the upcoming Council on Aging survey will provide helpful guidelines for prioritizing future projects in accordance to the wishes and needs of the town.
Alan Carpenito spoke with the committee about the Highland Building Committee’s plan to apply for $409,000 of CPA funds. The money would be used to add a sprinkler system and other improvements to bring the building up to fire code, improve heating, electrical and plumbing systems, as well as rebuild the front steps and provide some cosmetic improvements.
The Highland Building Study Group issued its report in August in which they stated, “The Highland Building has a place in Carlisle’s future providing economical, flexible and attractive space, whether for Carlisle Public School use, other public uses or some combination of both.” The report recommended that a plan to stabilize the building be prepared along with a justification of the expenditure of CPA funds for the work. Concurrently the report suggests that the School Building Committee and the Highland Building Committee begin an in-depth study the possible reuses by town, school or other groups.
Carpenito said the work would not be enough to make the building ADA compliant, which would be included in a second phase of work. When the report was presented to the Selectmen in August, Highland Committee member John Ballantine explained the two-phase approach: “The reason we went with the $409,000 renovation was that it was financially responsible, but also because the uses will affect the cost of the final design.” The Highland Report is available on the town government website: www.carlislema.gov.
CPC member Tim Hult expressed support of the project saying “There is nothing like a recession to make people want to use what they already have.” The building has potential as a recreation center or community center in the long term. While in favor of the project, Hult did express some concern over how much money will ultimately be required to make the building fully functional.
Deb Belanger of the Pedestrian and Bike Safety Advisory Committee came to the meeting to discuss the possibility of a new application for CPA funds to extend the path on Westford Street. Currently, the Westford Street path ends just past the Fire Station at Rockland Road. The original intention had been to extend the path to Towle Field; however, the topography of the area made the project more costly than expected. In order to go back to the original plan, the Pathways Committee needs to apply for additional CPA funds which they hope to do either in the current application process or in the future.
Another possible use of CPA funds would be to link the Town Common paths in the center. The group does have some money left over from the funds allocated in the first project. At this point, it is not clear how much is left over and how much this and other small projects will cost. ∆
© 2008 The