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New CPA Projects Under Review

The public is invited to learn about and weigh in on four proposals for Community Preservation Act funding at a hearing tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Needham residents can hear about the latest round of projects up for Community Preservation Act funding at a public hearing tonight, Wednesday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m. at .

The Community Preservation Committee is considering three historical projects totaling about $80,000 and one affordable housing project totaling $500,000. No open space projects made it to the final stage of consideration.

Passed by voters and Town Meeting in 2004, Needham’s CPA funding comes from a 2 percent surcharge on real estate property tax bills, plus a state match. Each year, a minimum of 10 percent of the collected monies must be set aside in one of three “buckets” for projects in three areas: historic resources, community housing and open space. The remaining money is put into the annual reserve, with up to 5 percent used for committee expenses.

On Tuesday, March 13, CPC chairman Mark Gluesing, vice chairwoman Janet Bernardo and Park and Recreation Director Patty Carey gave selectmen an overview of the four projects up for funding at the May 7 annual Town Meeting:

1. Historic Resources Project 1: Cataloguing Artifacts—The is seeking $25,000 to pay for a part-time professional and supplies needed to organize, catalogue and store local artifacts currently in the museum’s archives. Proper storage of these collections would enable the Historical Society to better use these resources for museum exhibits, teaching and research.

2. Historic Resources Project 2: Heritage Project, Part 2 —The is seeking $25,000 to continue the second phase of its Heritage Project, which involves a historical inventory of homes in town. Previous funding has allowed the commission to research, catalog and add 39 properties to the town’s inventory of historic sites, according to the group's 2012 application. The new funding would enable the commission to add more properties to the inventory. Once a site has been added to the inventory, current or future owners who want to demolish the building must wait six months for a historical review, Bernardo said. Homeowners and businesses are invited to participate in the survey but are not required to do so.

3. Historic Resources Project 3: Town Clerk Records—Town Clerk Tedi Eaton is seeking $29,914 to have historical town records professionally restored and preserved. Among the items in need of restoration and currently stored in the town clerk’s vault are death certificates from 1851-1896, marriage intentions, returns and certificates from the early 1800s through 1896 and birth certificates from 1881-1904, according to the application.

4. Community Housing Project: South Street Home—The nonprofit is seeking $500,000 to build a five-bedroom home for adults with development disabilities on a property already owned by the center at 1285 South St. The project would involve tearing down the existing structure, clearing the land and building a fully handicap-accessible home of 3,000 square feet. Construction is tenatatively set to begin in September, if the project receives CPA funding. The five bedrooms would each count as separate affordable housing units and contribute toward the town’s goal of 10 percent, Gluesing noted.

“At this time, there is a shortage of housing for individuals with disabilities while the demand continues to increase,” Charles River Center Director of Development Maria McTernan wrote in the group’s application for CPA funding. “Those who occupy this home may be adults still living with their elderly parents or those with moderate to severe disabilities.”

Because the total requested for this project exceeds what is currently available in the community housing reserve ($485,000), the committee is asking that the remaining $15,000 be taking out of the CPA general reserve.

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In addition to outlining the four projects up for review, Gluesing shared an update on state legislation that would expand the Community Preservation Act—in part, by enabling towns to use funds to upgrade recreational facilities that are already owned by the town. Currently, CPA communities can only purchase land for open space or recreational purposes or use funds to upgrade land that was purchased with CPA funds.

Gluesing said the legislation was currently in committee and likely would not be voted on until, at the earliest, next summer.

However, if the bill does not get approval, Gluesing said that the Needham CPC had talked about joining with other communities to support legislation that separates the recreational facilities piece from other aspects of the bill’s current form to help move it along.

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