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.