The Community Preservation Committee will soon have all of its members, and be ready to start overseeing how to spend the funds collected from the Community Preservation Act.
Watertown voters approved the CPA in November 2016. The money raised from the 2 percent property tax surcharge can be spent on three areas: affordable housing, open space/recreation, and historic preservation. The Community Preservation Committee will make recommendations for how the money will be spent, and the plan must be approved by the Town Council.
In June 2018, the Town Council approved an ordinance which spells out how the Community Preservation Committee members will be appointed.
The nine-member Committee will be made up of five spots required by the State CPA statute to be on the board, and four members appointed by the Town Manager.
On Tuesday night, Town Manager Michael Driscoll announced the four people he seeks to appoint to the Community Preservation Committee. He received 14 applications from residents when he put out a press release seeking citizens to serve on the committee. One withdrew, so he interviewed the 13 remaining applicants and chose four.
The four residents appointed to the committee are Mark Kraczkiewicz, Dennis Duff, Elodia Thomas and Jonathan Bokian.
The appointments must be certified by the Town Council. Before the appointments are brought to the full Town Council, the four people will be interviewed by a Council subcommittee made up of Council President Mark Sideris and Councilors Lisa Feltner, Tony Palomba and Susan Falkoff.
The members appointed by other boards will be: Planning Board member and designee Jason Cohen, Conservation Commission member and designee Maria Rose, Historical Commission member and designee Susan Steele, and Housing Authority designee Michael Lara, the assistant director of the Watertown Housing Authority.
The state statute also requires a designee appointed by the Parks Commission, but since Watertown does not have such a board, the Town Manager appointed someone from a similar group or fulfilling a similar role. Driscoll appointed Dennis Sheehan, the Department of Public Works Director of Administration and Finance.
Town Councilor Lisa Feltner said that her reading of the state CPA statute says that paid employees of the Town or organizations cannot be appointed to the Community Preservation Commission. She asked the Town’s law firm for a legal opinion of having Lara serve as the Housing Authority’s designee.
Members’ terms will be staggered, and because it is the first time the committee will be meeting, members will be appointed to one, two or three year terms.
The members with a one year term are Cohen, Kraczkiewicz, and Duff. The two-year appointees are Rose, Steele, and Thomas. Three year appointees are Lara, Sheehan, and Bokian.
Driscoll said he hopes to have the item to certify the appointment on the agenda of the Town Council’s Jan. 22, 2019 meeting, at the latest.