Friday, March 20, 2009
CPC supports library, Highland, open space report, defers Bog House
On March 17, after two hours of discussion, the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) voted to support grants for the Gleason Public Library, the Highland Building and an Open Space and Recreation Report. This marked the first year that the CPC had to decide among several big-ticket requests and as a result the committee voted to table a request for funds to repair the Cranberry Bog House.
The CPC administers the distribution of funds collected under the Community Preservation Act (CPA). By law, funds collected through the CPA process must be used only for historical preservation, community housing and open space preservation/public recreation. The CPC reviews all applications and makes recommendations to Town Meeting, which has final spending authority.
In a unanimous vote, the CPC agreed to support the project application from the library trustees in the amount of $775,000 to be drawn from a combination of the historic and undesignated funds and to be spent by the end of calendar year 2012. At that time the unspent balance is to be returned to the fund from which it came. This grant would help fund the restoration and repair of the historic façade of the library.
By a 6-0 vote, with member Julia Lavely abstaining, the CPC agreed to support the project application from the Board of Selectmen in the amount of $445,000 for base renovation of the Highland Building. Funding for this work would be drawn from a combination of the historic and undesignated funds. All money not spent by the end of calendar year 2013 is to be returned to the fund from which it came. This grant would fund the stabilization of the Highland Building, bringing it to a base state of renovation, with basic structural integrity and basic functional operating systems. The work would bring the building to a point where it is no longer a significant fire hazard. It would also bring the building to a point where the town can determine its appropriate long-term use.
The CPC voted unanimously to support the project application from the Conservation Commission in the amount of $16,610 from the undesignated fund to be spent by the end of calendar year 2012. At that time any unspent funds would revert to the undesignated fund. This grant would fund the completion of an Open Space and Recreation Plan (OS&R). The state requires that each municipality provide an OS&R every five years in order to be eligible for a variety of state funding opportunities.
Cranberry Bog House
The CPC voted, by a 6-1 margin, with chair Kelly Guarino voting no, to defer all discussion about the Bog House until next year. The ConsCom had requested $130K for maintenance and repair of the building; however, after a site tour several members of the CPC were reluctant to support the request, stating that they were not sure the requested funding would prove adequate to repair the building. Because requests for funding exceeded the available funds this year, the CPC agreed to table the discussion until next year.
Funding by debt issue
Town Treasurer Larry Barton discussed the possibility of using a debt issue to fund some of the requested work. A debt issue had been used last year for the purchase of the Benfield Land. As Barton explained, use of low-interest debt that would be paid back entirely via CPA funds, would allow the committee to continue supporting some smaller projects while the larger projects are paid via a bond issue. The committee voted 4-3 in favor of investigating the use of a debt issue. Recognizing the split vote, the CPC agreed to ask experts from other town committees for their advice. Before the next meeting CPC and BOS member Tim Hult will ask the Board of Selectmen for input and will contact members of the FinCom for their advice.
All requested funding for the CPC-supported projects would come from the FY10 budget. However, since FY10 money cannot be spent before July 1, this would create a problem for the library. The trustees would like to prepare bid paperwork and begin the effort to hire a contractor as soon as possible. For this reason, Barton will determine how to provide funding so that the library can begin work before July 1. The CPC will meet again on April 14 at 6:15 p.m. to hear from Barton. ∆
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