The first meeting of the Community Preservation Committee will take place on Feb. 21, 2019.
The committee was formed after Watertown voters passed the Community Preservation Act in November 2016. The CPA raises money through a 2 percent surcharge on local property tax bills, and the funds can be used in three areas: recreation/open space, affordable housing and historic preservation.
The Community Preservation Committee will look at potential places to use the Community Preservation funds and will propose a list of projects. The list must be approved by the Town Council.
The first meting will take place on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Council Chamber in Town Hall, 149 Main St., Watertown. On the agenda will be: swearing of Committee members, remarks by Town Council President Mark Sideris and Town Manager Michael Driscoll, a discussion on the duties and responsibilities of the Community Preservation Committee, and a discussion of next steps.
The Committee is made up of four members appointed by Town boards (which are required under the State CPA legislation), four at-large members nominated by the Town Manager and approved by the Town Council, and a representative fulfilling the role of a Park Commissioner. That role is required by the state legislation, but because Watertown does not have such a commission, the Town Manager appoints someone to fill that role.
The four residents appointed to the committee are: Mark Kraczkiewicz, Dennis Duff, Elodia Thomas and Jonathan Bokian.
The members appointed by boards are: Planning Board member and designee Jason Cohen, Conservation Commission member and designee Maria Rose, and Historical Commission member and designee Susan Steele. Originally, Housing Authority designee Michael Lara, the assistant director of the Watertown Housing Authority was appointed to the committee but on Jan. 25, Town Manager Michael Driscoll appointed Allen Gallagher, chair of the Watertown Housing Authority Board, to fill the role.
Who would appoint the at-large members was a much debated issue, with those who put the CPA on the ballot favoring the Town Council appointing the members, and others saying the committee should be selected like other boards and committees — nominated by the Town Manager and approved by the Town Council. After months of debate, in June 2018 the decision was made in a split Town Council vote to do the latter.
(NOTE: The members of the Community Preservation Committee were updated on Feb. 15, 2019 at 1:10 p.m.)