LETTER: Resident Urges Watertown to Follow Other Towns and Adopt the CPA


We all have friends in neighboring communities. Most likely these people live in towns that have already passed the Community Preservation Act (CPA). Since 2000, 161 cities and towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have adopted the CPA.

In our region, Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, Lexington, Lincoln, Newton, Somervile, Waltham and Weston benefit from matching State funds for historic preservation, open space, including recreation, and affordable housing. The good people in Watertown deserve to benefit from the Act as well, especially as we have been paying into the trust fund with the State for all these years without receiving benefits.

Medway, the town of my growing up years, adopted the CPA in 2001. Last year I attended my 50th high school reunion in the Thayer Home Place, circa 1830’s, restored by funds from the Medway CPA. When visiting relatives, I often stop to buy vegetables at the Medway Community Farm, a project of the town’s CPA. Choate Park, a favorite childhood place for play and exploration, benefitted from CPA money. Medway has also used CPA funds to restore damaged gravestones in the Evergreen Cemetery, dating from 1750, where several of my relatives are buried. Medway Community Preservation Committee is working on ways to increase much needed affordable housing. Oh, if we could do the same in Watertown!

Medway elected to pay a 3% surcharge on real estate taxes. The ballot initiative, Question 5, in Watertown asks for a 2% surcharge, with exemptions for low-income residents and moderate and low-income seniors. Taxpayers with residential exemptions will also receive a pro-rated reduction on the surcharge. The average homeowner would pay $10 a month, a little more than the cost of three lattés at the Watertown Library’s Bookstore Café.

Under the Act, our Town Council would appoint a Community Preservation Committee. In the spirit of accountability and transparency, meetings will be open to the public. The Town Council makes the final decisions on recommendations from the Community Preservation Committee. For inspiration and perspective about possible projects in Watertown, go to the Community Preservation Coalition’s CPA Projects Database, with completed projects town by town.

Every election cycle is exciting. I am thrilled to take part in the local campaign to bring the Community Preservation Act to Watertown, my home town since 1982. Please join me in voting Yes on Question 5. Look for details at CommunityPreservation.org and InvestInWatertown.org. Your vote matters. Your vote makes a difference.


Katherine Button
Edward Road

5 thoughts on “LETTER: Resident Urges Watertown to Follow Other Towns and Adopt the CPA

  1. Sorry Katherine, this is not a one size fits all Tax…If 161 towns have adopted this, that also means 190 chose not too. Why no mention that our Progressive and Liberal neighbor Brookline, cognizant of a looming school override, wisely defeated the CPA? Are we not like Brookline right now, with a very big school problem? You mention “The average homeowner would pay $10 a month, a little more than the cost of three lattés at the Watertown Library’s Bookstore Café” (for those that can already afford said Lattte, that sounds swell). Again, no mention this is a minimum 5 years which is over 500 dollars, taken right off the tables of our cash strapped citizens, making too much for an exemption. These folks are, according HUD are housing cost burdened, spending over 30% on rent/mortgage. How does this make Watertown more affordable for them?? You want to break that news to them, while the schools crumble and considers renting modular classrooms to handle overflow?? How does the party that claims to care about our most vulnerable, knowingly ignore what’s actually happening in our community? This no time top pretend all is well in our schools, that we can have/do “Both”. If the CPA passes and the schools go unfunded, we will be responsible for what amounts to a far less than optimal education for a generation to come.

    • Great article Katherine! Passing the CPA in 2005 would have given us matching funds for projects we already completed with taxpayer funds. Moving forward we still get partially matching funds to apply to additional projects in the planning stages such as park renovations at Fillapello and Victory Field. CPA is a step in the right direction for our community! I was saddened to how one youth sports program has to rent space outside Watertown just in order to practice! Our town needs this. Thanks!

  2. And, the Thayer Homestead in Medway, a CPA funded project, makes the Town money through rental income! It’s a beautiful spot and such a wise investment for the Town!

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