Proposed Community Preservation Projects
By Gregory T. Federspiel
The warrant for the Annual Town Meeting, slated for April 25th starting at 7PM in the new Memorial School gymnasium, has been finalized by the Board of Selectmen. Final editing to the Town’s Annual Report and the Finance Committee’s Report is underway and preparations are being made to have these materials delivered to all households. Over the course of the remaining few weeks until the ATM, I will be focusing on specific articles that will come before the voters.
Article 7 this year contains the list of proposed projects to receive funding through the Community Preservation Committee (CPC). Years ago, voters agreed to place a 1.5% surcharge on all tax bills (excluding the first $100,000 of a home’s value). This dedicated tax plus additional funds the state contributes (estimated to be about a 40% match next year) is to be used for three different types of projects – open space and recreation, community housing, and historic preservation. A minimum of 10% of total funds are to be set aside for each of the three categories. About $585,000 will be raised next year and combined with unspent past funds raised of $680,000 means we have over $1,265,000 available for projects.
The CPC recommends spending just under $880,000 on 6 different open space and recreation projects. The largest of these is the construction of a new multi-purpose recreation field at the site of the old burn dump along Pine Street. The project is slated to receive $800,000 from the CPC account. Plans call for a grass field with off-street parking for use by various sport teams. Field space is at a premium in Town and this new field will provide a much-needed practice field. In a year or so the new field will be even more critical to have as plans call for redoing Sweeney Park which will take the fields there off-line for a year.
$35,000 is slated to rejuvenate the land near the confluence of Sawmill and Causeway Brooks near the pedestrian bridge on Lincoln Street. Invasive plants will be culled, and native species will be planted in this effort headed up by the Conservation Commission. Another planting project aims to create large pollinator gardens on various Town-owned parcels. $20,000 is targeted for this effort.
The Winthrop Field Committee has requested $10,000 to make improvements to the field’s broken drainage pipes. The Bike and Pedestrian Committee hopes voters will approve $7000 for new bike racks at key locations in Town. Another $7000 is requested to continue the research that is being done on the so-called “western woods”, a large track of undeveloped land in the northwest corner of Town. The goal is to preserve as much of this land as possible and to allow passive recreational uses on the many trails in the area.
Under the Community Housing category, the Manchester Affordable Housing Trust seeks approval for $200,000 to be used in their efforts to advance the creation of more affordable housing units. The major project they are currently working on is the collaborative effort with the Manchester Housing Authority (a state funded agency) to upgrade and expand MHA’s current holdings and possibly build new housing at the site of the current DPW garage.
Lastly, under historic preservation, three projects are proposed. One is to continue the restoration work at various town cemeteries (headstone and fencing repairs) for a total of $25,000. $10,000 is proposed for the restoration and display of old Fire Department memorabilia including old leather fire hats, firefighting tools, and old photographs. Lastly, the CPC recommends that $50,000 of CPC funds be combined with $60,000 in general funds to advance the engineering needed to restore the pilings and walkway to the Rotunda at Tuck’s Point. The pilings are rotting out and new ones that raise the Rotunda up away from rising seas are needed. An alternative plan of relocating the Rotunda on a high point of land at Tuck’s will be developed in case we decide that is a wiser long-term solution.
All told, there are $1,189,500 worth of CP projects, including a $25,000 administration account, leaving a small surplus of $76,000 in the fund. In addition to the CPC’s recommendation to approve the projects, both the Selectmen and the Finance Committee are recommending voter approval as well.