Community Preservation Act funds at work and in play

An update from April Town Meeting
By Zarrin Tasnim Ahmed | Oct 09, 2016
Photo by: Zarrin Tasnim Ahmed The fences at Westfield Complex are brand new, thanks to Community Preservation Act funds.

The restoration of historic, stained-glass windows at the First Congregational Church are still in process while the softball fields at Westfield Complex have been completed. Both projects were approved by Town Meeting voters for the use of Community Preservation Act funds.

At the end of the month, Town Meeting voters will decide whether to approve funds for the purchase of land and housing by Wareham Land Trust and Father Bill's & Mainspring.

Funds to the tune of $24,000 were used completely at the Westfield Sports Complex on Charlotte Furnace Road, where two girl's softball fields got new fencing. Though the funds were used specifically for the fencing, the league made many improvements.

According to President Nick Petronelli, these included repairing and replacing damaged sprinkler system heads, installing a new timer box, renovating the snack shack, installing a flagpole with a decorative fence and three new picnic tables, redoing the clay in the fields with clay donated by A.D. Makepeace, installing new pitching mounds and reseeding and fertilizing the grass.

"There's a lot of girls that play," said Petronelli. "We've been doing a lot of fundraising and getting grant money."

Though the improvements at Westfield are complete, work on the windows at the church is just beginning.

"We are about to sign a contract with a company to start the window restoration project," said Kathy Morse, treasurer for Mustard Seeds Projects at the First Congregational Church.

She said the project should begin within a month. The company will remove the windows on the sides of the church, take them to the workshop, then reinstall each piece. The company will clean and place a new, transparent cover on the stained glass windows.

She expects the project to take three or four months to complete.

The restoration project was granted $60,000 and it is one of many Mustard Seed Projects.

"[That amount of money] will be the limit of what we do [with the windows], and that should do it," said Morse.

Restoration of the entire building, however, she said would be a multi-million dollar project and take years. The process involves masonry work, carpentry work, and painting. Restoring the windows is the first piece, and Mustard Seeds Projects will "do what [they] need, to make that piece complete."

Community Preservation Act funds are generated by a 3 percent property tax surcharge, with the first $100,000 of a property's assessed value exempt from the levy. Matching state funds come from a tax on property transfers.

"So far, since we've started collecting from the state and from the taxpayers, our CPA funds have brought in just over $12.2 million that's allowed us to do projects for affordable housing, open space, recreation, and historic preservation," said Sandy Slavin, co-chair of the Community Preservation Committee.

Grants are first submitted to the committee and then the Board of Selectmen. If approved by both the committee and the Board of Selectmen, an article is submitted for Town Meeting.

Read more about the upcoming projects that will be voted upon during Town Meeting here.

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