|CPC grants Tarkiln, war memorial funds|
|Thursday, 04 December 2008 13:58|
Some walked away happy, some disappointed, as the Community Preservation Committee made their decisions on project funding at a hearing Thursday morning.
A slimed-down plan to restore the former Tarkiln School on Route 53 drew praise from Community Preservation Committee members, as the committee voted to unanimously support the proposal.
However, although the board eventually voted to approved $75,000 toward the restoration of a World War I memorial, War Memorial Committee Chairman Joseph Shea seemed disappointed the full request of $100,000 was not approved.
CPC Chairwoman Holly Morris said the board was split as to whether or not to approve the full amount. Although committee members said they all supported the spirit of the project, at issue was a rthe memorial supporters' failure to seek outside funding.
â€œWe've been asking for four or five months about any other money, and the answer is the same as it was five months ago,â€ said CPC member Pat Loring.
Shea told the board he asked Town Counsel Robert Troy about the funding issue, but was unequivocally told his committee could not legally solicit funds.
â€œOnce the town has accepted the idea of the memorial, donations may be received,â€ Shea said.
He also said he had not heard back from the Board of Selectmen as to whether or not certain trust and endowment funds could be tapped for the project.
CPC member Tony Kelso said he wanted an answer on the trust fund question, saying there would be little incentive to fundraise after the fact if the CPC approved the full amount.
However, Shea questioned the amount of money in those accounts, saying it wouldn't make up the difference.
â€œI don't want to see this project become the whipping boy for [an issue with the Selectmen,]â€ he said.
â€œThat's been my position from the day this came in,â€ said Loring in response. â€œIt hasn't to do with pitting us against the Selectmen.â€
CPC member John Bear said he was concerned about the amount of the funding.
â€œIt's a lot of cost for a relatively small benefit,â€ he said.
Morris responded that the project was a deserving one.
â€œI don't know how you assign a cost benefit ... to a memorial dedicated to those who served our country,â€ she said.
CPC member Brendan Keohan made a motion to fund $75,000 toward the memorial's restoration, with the idea that the rest of money would come from other sources, such as town trust funds or private fundraising.
The motion was approved by a vote of 5-2, with Morris and Lynne Devnew voting no, saying they would rather see the full amount funded.
The town of the discussion of the Tarkiln building, a former school off Route 53 that has been abandoned since 2006, was a far cry from when a more expensive project was defeated at March's annual Town Meeting.
The study group whittled the original renovation plan of $1.3 million down to $435,720, using volunteers to cut down on labor costs and reducing the scope of the project.
Bear asked Tarkiln Study Committee member Tag Carpenter if the group had done any analysis of the operating cost and projected income. Carpenter said that if fees were in line with other public meeting spaces, such as the Senior Center, and if the building was being used at the same rate as 2006, the income would cover expenses with a surplus.
If approved at this year's Town Meeting, the building could be open as early as the winter of 2009, Carpenter said.
The CPC unanimously voted to support the project. This also marked a departure from last year's process, when the Town Meeting article went to the meeting floor without a recommendation from the CPC.
Committee members had high praise for the group's work in researching and outlining the new proposal.
â€œTo pull yourselves together and do this level of volunteerism and work is incredible,â€ said Loring. â€œTo reduce the cost to this level is amazing.â€
Other projects approved by the Community Preservation Committee Thursday morning:
â€¢ Study for Tremont Street Path. The CPC approved $56,000 for design funds for a mixed-use path that would traverse Tremont Street from the Senior Center to Town Hall.
CPC members asked Sidewalk Committee member Dick Rothschild about the feelings of those whose properties would be affected by the plan. Rothschild said the Historical and Rural Society, which owns the forest off Tremont and Depot Street, is resistant to the path, and homeowners along the street are reluctant to agree to any land taking until more details emerge. Rothschild also said there's no guarantee on funding for the actual construction of the path, although he is optimistic that federal and state funds should be available.
â€¢ Camp Wing housing. When a larger land purchase was made recently at Camp Wing, three acres were set aside for affordable housing. $50,000 was granted to develop a housing plan. No market rate units are included, which allayed the only serious concern CPC members had about this appropriation.
â€¢ House recycling program. The CPC voted to set aside $100,000 to be use to move donated houses to town-owned land for affordable housing purposes. Brendan Keohan said there are currently two residents interested in donating their homes, and the the committee is looking into possible â€œlanding spots.â€
â€¢ Conservation fund top off. The CPC voted to add $77,450 to the town's conservation fund, brining the total to an even $100,000.
â€¢ Historic homes survey. The CPC approved $9,000 to continue the historical landmark survey, which typically encompasses 20 homes a year.