CPC Turns Down Chatham VFW Funding Request

By: Tim Wood

Topics: Community Preservation Act

The Chatham VFW Post on George Ryder Road. A request for $205,000 in community preservation funds was turned down because the proposed work did not fall within the purposes allowed by the program. FILE PHOTO

CHATHAM – The community preservation committee has turned down the Chatham VFW Post's requests for funds to upgrade the heating system at its George Ryder Road facility.

The $205,000 request doesn't adhere to Community Preservation Act guidelines for historic structures because it does not involve acquisition, preservation, rehabilitation or restoration. While a section of the building has been determined to be historical significant, the work would extend throughout the building, and CPA funds can't be used to upgrade or maintain a non-historic structure.

“We just have to work within our rules,” Chairman Michael Tompsett said.

Considerable work has been done on the Brown James Buck Memorial VFW Post building over the past few years, including a new roof and siding, according to the CPA application, but other structural work is required that is beyond the Post's fundraising abilities.

Post representative Don Devine told CPC members last week that the 50-year-old heating system needs to be replaced, and must be upgraded throughout the building, not just in the historic section.

The center section of the building was determined by the historical commission to be historically significant, according to a Jan. 17 letter from chairman Frank Messina. Originally an ell attached to the circa 1800 Deacon John Hawes House, which sits on the corner of Bridge Street and Old Harbor Road, it was moved to the George Ryder Road site in the 1950s.

In the letter, Messina said despite the historical nature of the structure, the VFW is requesting funds for maintenance of the non-historic portions of the building as well and thus the commission can't support the application.

That was the position of CPC members as well, even though they supported the Post's mission and its efforts to upgrade the facility.

“We have to abide by the statute,” said Don Aikman.

The committee last week began making recommendations on the 20 applications it received for CPA funding at the May 13 annual town meeting. According to Finance Director Alix Heilala, the group has a considerable pot of money available; fiscal 2020 proceeds are expected to be about $1.1 million, with another $1.6 million available in reserves. CPA funds come from a 3 percent surcharge on property taxes and can be spent on historic preservation, open space, affordable housing and recreation.

The committee approved a number of affordable housing-related requests, including $30,000 for a shared housing coordinator; $250,000 for the town's affordable housing trust fund; $50,00 for a project to house adults with autism in Dennis; $7,500 for the Cape Housing Institute program run by the Community Development Partnership; and $362,000 toward the purchase of a home on Crowell Road which will be added to the town's rent-to-own housing escrow program.

The CPC also recommended approval of $48,000 for the Nickerson Family Association to continue its archaeological dig at the Nickerson Homestead site; $9,000 to restore an historic door at the Atwood House and Museum; and $48,960 for restoration work on the historic railroad caboose at the town-owned railroad museum on Depot Road.

Bikeway crossing signals were approved at $15,000, as was a $12,000 request for water bottle filling stations. A request for $86,000 to remove invasive plants from the town-owned Seaside Links Golf Course was turned down. Committee members determined it did not fall within the scope of CPC funding.

The group was scheduled to continue voting on applications this week.