Pickleball Court, Marconi Restoration Work, Vie For CPA Funds

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Historic preservation , Recreation , Community Preservation Act

Pickleball is growing in popularity, especially among adults. FILE PHOTO

CHATHAM Rounding out this year's list of projects seeking Community Preservation Act funding are preservation projects at the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center and various recreation projects, including a pickleball court.

The community preservation committee will now begin debating the merits of the dozen different applications, which total more than $615,000. Having already heard presentations on several requests, including $80,000 for the Atwood House foundation and $33,000 for exterior work on the VFW hall, the committee reviewed a half-dozen additional applications Monday.

Parks and Recreation Director Dan Tobin made the case for four of the proposed projects, the largest of which is $75,000 for the pickleball court.

“It's one of the fastest growing games in the country,” Tobin said. While the town already offers pickleball on courts in the community center gymnasium, there is need for additional outdoor playing space, he said. The funds being sought would pay for the resurfacing of the pavement at the basketball courts off Stepping Stones Road, which would then be painted with new stripes that allow the courts to be used for both basketball and pickleball. Currently, the surface of the courts have large cracks, “large enough to potentially turn an ankle,” Tobin said.

Committee member Jane Moffett warned that CPA funds cannot be used for regular maintenance, which should be covered by the town budget.

“When we talk about cracking pavement, that's more about maintenance,” she said. While most of the money, about $63,000, would go for the resurfacing of the court, the remainder would pay for the new lines and for removable pickleball nets, Tobin said.

The parks and recreation department is also seeking $38,000 for the rehabilitation of the small South Chatham playground off Bobbie's Lane. Using survey work funded by the CPA last year, the project would involve the installation of a handicap-accessible pathway that leads to the small playground behind the tennis court and handicap-accessible playground equipment.

“This is not going to be a big playground,” Tobin said. If funded, work would likely begin on the neighborhood park in the fall.

Other recreation applications include $12,500 for improvements to two tee areas at Seaside Links Golf Course and $18,000 to replace the backstop on the little league field behind the community center. Several weeks ago, Tobin made the case for a separate $50,000 CPA grant to redesign the bleachers at nearby Veterans Field.

Two of this year's grant requests involve the Marconi campus in Chathamport. The Chatham Marconi Maritime Center is seeking $29,000 to allow a variety of paper records and historic photographs to be digitized and compiled in a searchable database. The funds would pay for a special scanner and for an archivist to begin the project and teach volunteers how to continue the work.

The town is also seeking $22,500 for exterior restoration work on the two brick Marconi buildings nearest Ryder's Cove Road, the former powerhouse and an adjacent small garage. While the town has already invested CPA funds to restore the outsides of the principal Marconi buildings, these smaller structures need repairs to their windows and doors. Normally, such work would constitute maintenance, but because the structures are historic, the town is seeking to hire a specialized contractor to repair or replace the windows and doors. Once they are restored, the town's regular building crews will take on their regular maintenance, Principal Projects Administrator Terry Whalen said.

The committee also heard a request by Richard Finnegan of Chatham for a $100,000 CPA grant to support Cape Cod Village, a planned residential community in Orleans for adults with autism. Finnegan has volunteered with groups that support families of mentally ill and autistic people, and has an autistic child in his own family. Ensuring that young people with autism have safe, appropriate housing options when they become adults is a significant challenge, Finnegan said. The $6 million project recently received a $3 million low-interest loan from the federal government. Orleans voters have already committed $450,000 in CPA funds for the project.

The committee also heard an update from Moffett on the status of the request for historic preservation funds for the VFW hall on George Ryder Road. Moffett said despite extensive research, the historical commission was unable to unearth evidence that the building is historically significant. A member of the historical commission, Moffett said the commission struggled with the request.

“We want to be supportive of it, but there's no definitive link” showing that the building is historically significant, she said.

The community preservation committee will meet on Feb. 13 to decide on each of the funding requests.