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Citizens Invited To Review Fall CPA Projects

Needham residents can ask questions and share thoughts on the three proposals.

Needham residents are encouraged to come hear about several projects that are being considered for Community Preservation Act funding at Needham's Oct. 29 special Town Meeting.

The Community Preservation Committee will hold a public hearing on the proposals on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. in selectmen's chambers at Needham Town Hall.

Following the hearing, the Community Preservation Committee will decide whether to recommend each of the three projects at Town Meeting. All three projects appear in the October 2012 special Town Meeting warrant.

In 2004, Needham adopted the Community Preservation Act and its 2 percent surcharge on local real estate property tax bills. According to state guidelines, the funds can be spent in three main areas: historic resources, community housing and open space. Typically, CPA projects are approved at the annual Town Meeting in the spring.

Recently, the Massachusetts legislature approved changes to the Community Preservation Act that will allow communities to use CPA funds to renovate and upgrade existing parks and recreational areas. Previously, funding was limited to new developments.

Copies of the applications up for review by the Community Preservation Committee can be obtained in the Park and Recreation Office at 500 Dedham Ave. or on the CPC section of the town’s website.

Below is a summary of the three projects up for funding, as provided by the Community Preservation Committee:

South Street Home: Submitted by Charles River ARC—The Charles River Center (Charles River ARC) recently purchased property on South Street and is seeking funding to construct a group home for five to six adults with developmental disabilities.  The request is for $500,000, but based on funds that are anticipated from other resources that will be finalized in October, the actual amount that will be requested will be less than $500,000. The Charles River Center has already purchased the property and is using architectural designs created for another home being built in another community. If approved, this project would increase the town’s number of low-income affordable units by five. 

Greene’s Field: Submitted by the Board of Selectmen—It has been two years since the Greene’s Field play structure was removed, and with the assistance of the Greene’s Field Play Structure Advisory Group, the town has reviewed the needs of the whole park. The request for $445,000 is for: the creation of a new playground area, with equipment for young children and school-aged children; the restoration of the 60-foot diamond and small multi-purpose field; restoration of the basketball court; and the addition of a small walking path. A Greene’s Field fundraising group has already begun the effort to raise at least $50,000 to go toward this project, as the overall cost is anticipated to be closer to $500,000. 

Bay Colony Rail Trail Engineering Study: Submitted by Bay Colony Rail Trail Committee—With the support of the Board of Selectmen, the Bay Colony Rail Trail Committee (BCRTC) is seeking $35,000 to engage in an engineering study in order to provide answers to selectmen and others on the feasibility of creating a rail trail that would begin near Needham Junction on Chestnut Street and continue to the Charles River.  Some of the issues to be studied include access to the rail trail from the Chestnut Street area, possible parking areas for trail users, ADA considerations and the integrity of the timber bridge crossing the Charles River. BCRTC has already been reaching out to close abutters of the possible rail trail, and the study will include public workshops for input.

BCRTC is also working with the town of Dover and the town of Medfield, as the long-term vision is to have a 7-mile trail extending from Needham Junction to Medfield, and participates in a 3-town working group of board/staff members from each town. As long-term discussions are still underway between Needham and Newton on a variety of transportation needs, including pedestrian, between the two communities, this current project does not include the unused rails extending beyond the Needham Heights station.

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