Community Preservation Recommendations Touch All Bases

By: Ed Maroney

Topics: Community Preservation Act

Owen O’Reilly spoke up for a new mini-ramp at the community preservation committee meeting on Feb. 27. The board is recommending $54,500 to make it happen.  ED MARONEY PHOTO

ORLEANS — There’s something for everyone in the community preservation committee’s recommendations for spending on community housing, historical preservation, open space, and recreation. What there’s not is everything for everybody.

With almost 20 requests for supporting totaling well above $2 million, the committee had a tough job getting the number down to its expected revenue for the fiscal year beginning July1 ($1,138,193). By tapping unreserved funds as well, members found funds for more than $1.5 million worth of projects.

The board of selectmen and finance committee will opine on the recommendations, with the final decision to be rendered by town meeting in May. CPC members are scheduled to discuss the projects and process with the finance committee March 19 at 7 p.m.

Some big-ticket requests had already been removed from the docket when the committee voted its recommendations Feb. 27. The Orleans Conservation Trust had been looking for $300,000 to support its Portaminicut Road land acquisition, a number that was reduced to $250,000. A proposal to receive $125,000 this fiscal year and the same amount the next “was just too complicated,” CPC chair Julia Enroth said. “They really needed to have all the funds at one time.” After OCT withdrew its request, the committee voted to place $125,000 in its open space reserves “in hopes that next year we’ll have the $250,000 (total),” said Enroth.

“The land will continue to be held temporarily by the Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts,” OCT Director Stephen O’Grady wrote in an email. The Trust “has taken a loan from the Compact, and the Compact will hold Lot 2 (that’s the lot that CPC was presented with and that the town has most interest in) until we are able to repay that loan. OCT plans to reapply to CPC for the full $250,000 in November for funding in 2021, and we will carry the loan until next May, when we hope we’ll have received the funds from the town to protect the land as open space in perpetuity.”

Also no longer under consideration were a $600,000 request from Nauset Interfaith Alliance to rehab the David Young House off Route 6A for transitional housing (ownership issues must be resolved first) and a $500,000 ask from the Orleans Farmer’s Market for funds to buy 107 Main St. as a year-round location. Town Counsel Michael Ford ruled the latter project did not come within the definition of “recreational use.” The location is being vetted by the affordable housing trust for a rental housing development. The committee recommended $5,000 go to the Farmer’s Market to replace vandalized tents for its outdoor marketplace.

Even some approved projects got a haircut. The Centers for Culture and History in Orleans, formerly the Orleans Historical Society, had sought $250,000 of the $435,000 projected for the fourth phase of a project to upgrade its 1834 Meetinghouse and Hurd Chapel and relocate the later as part of a new plaza. The fourth phase would cover landscaping, walls, brick pathways, and related costs. “That was one quote from a landscaper,” CHO board secretary Cristina Harter said in an interview last week. “We hope to do it for a lot less.”

Knowing, she said, that the CPC “was under a tremendous amount of pressure to lower amounts,” Harter withdrew that request and asked if the committee would support $200,000 of the projected $350,000 cost of the third phase, which involved moving and upgrading the Hurd Chapel. The committee requested further cuts, and CHO agreed to reduce its ask by $45,000 (a fire suppression system) before Harter offered a further $10,000 reduction for a handicapped entrance. Both remain in future plans for the site.

The final recommended figure for CHO is $145,000. “We understand that they had a tremendous balancing act,” Harter said. “They have been very generous to us in the past, and continue to be.” The first phase of CHO’s Meetinghouse site work, she said, was funded 100 percent by the committee “except the $3,000 that Bonnie Snow gave us for a hot water heater.” CPC provided two-thirds of the money for phase two, and the proposed funds for phase 3 will represent about a third of the total cost. “I’m hoping not to go back for phase 4,” said Harter, who said federal and state funds and private donations the organization has received, as well as CPC money, should cover the costs.

The committee recommended earmarking $132,000 for the Church of the Holy Spirit’s Galley West preservation project, down from an earlier request of $180,000. The French Cable Station Museum asked for $72,739.40 and was recommended for $61,521.

One sum that remained intact from first to last was $500,000 requested by the affordable housing committee for the affordable housing trust fund. With several projects nearing placement on the front burner, members agreed that giving the trust board resources to act quickly on housing opportunities was what town meeting had intended in creating the fund.

A variety of other requests were approved for an omnibus CPC town meeting article, including $54,500 to build a mini-ramp at the Finch Skate Park on Eldredge Park Way. The committee heard directly from young Owen O’Reilly, who enjoys the park, on Feb. 27.

The CPC recommended a second article, this one to acquire 2.5 acres at 12 Peck’s Way on Arey’s Pond for open space and recreation land abutting 8.5 acres of town-owned conservation property. The $775,000 cost would be bonded if the voters approve, and the committee’s article includes $24,000 to cover a bond anticipation note to pay interest in the first year. Given current borrowing rates, the actual number is likely to be significantly lower.

There’s potential for more good news. The acquisition could qualify for a State Land Acquisition for Natural Diversity (LAND) grant of $400,000 toward the $775,000 purchase price.