ORLEANS — The town's community preservation committee does just that. It recommends funds to preserve open space, housing options, history and, this week, one woman's dream for youth recreation opportunities.
On Feb. 16, the CPC voted to recommend giving Nauset Together We Can $19,000 toward the next phase of the Jean Finch Skateboard Park at Nauset Regional Middle School, just weeks after the death of Finch.
“Jean Finch founded the skateboard park...She was a tiger,” said CPC Chair Alan McClennen, noting the difficulty of siting a town project on a regional property. “She knew we were going to fund this before she died.”
Catherine Hertz, treasurer of Nauset Together We Can and a former CPC member, attended the meeting and thanked the board. Afterward, she said the skateboard park would be “up and running in the summer.”
The committee blessed five other projects: $19,000 to the conservation commission to replace fences and gates at the Hopkins Lane and Sea Call Farm community gardens; $4,050 to the Orleans Conservation Trust for new detailed trail guides; $9,500 to the Orleans Historical Commission to, as McClennen put it, “help develop a regulatory process if the survey of 400-plus properties determines a place where we might create a state or federal historic district;” $110,000 to the Homeless Prevention Council to help reorganize its office space to create an affordable dwelling unit; and $50,000 to Stratford Capital and the Community Development Partnership, which are building 50-plus rental units, some qualified as affordable, at the former Tee Time site in Eastham. The developers have asked neighboring towns for financial support for the project.
Recommendations from the committee will be presented to the selectmen and the finance committee, with town meeting having the final say in May. “We get tremendous support from the town,” member Julia Enroth said.
A big annual expense for the CPC is paying the debt service for land acquired by the town under the former Cape Cod Land Bank; this year, that amount is $488,475. It's due to be paid in full in 2026.
This season's recommended grants by no means exhaust the CPC's resources, which include money held in reserve. This year, state matching funds are anyone's guess as there's been a significant increase in the number of towns adopting the Community Preservation Act. While there is legislation in the works to increase the pot to be shared, there's no guarantee, so the town's CPC is not tapping those dollars at this time.
The CPC received 13 applications, some of which were deemed ineligible and others which were withdrawn.