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May 2008
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There's a lot happening during this busy Spring, and our first article details some of the latest CPA news from around the state.

In addition, we have information on a potential project for your Community Preservation Committee during the summer slow down in CPA activity: plan procedural improvements and fine-tune your CPA application and review procedures. In this issue we examine some of the best application procedures used by local CPCs.

If you have other examples of good CPA policies, procedures and the like please share them with the Coalition so we can share them with the greater CPA community!

CPA news
coalition news

Spring votes for CPA adoption
The number of CPA communities statewide continues to grow with the addition of Stoughton, West Bridgewater and Granville, bringing the total to 130 cities and towns. Becket, Brimfield, Hanson and Plympton are voting in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, five communities voted not to adopt CPA this spring, including Andover, Chesterfield, Seekonk, South Hadley and Worthington.
Click here to link to the Coalition's CPA election results and schedule

Update on CPA Recreation Lawsuit

In January, the City of Newton filed an appeal of the judge's decision in the CPA recreation lawsuit, Seideman and others v. City of Newton. Arguments in the case had been scheduled for May, but have now been postponed until the fall. In addition, the Town of Acton has filed an Amicus Brief urging that the court "broadly construe the CPA consistent with its overarching purpose, with appropriate deference to local decision-making."
Click here to view case appeal documents and case docket
Click here to view Acton Amicus Brief

CPA Trust Fund receives interest payments
Under Section 9b of the CPA law, the interest earned by money in the statewide CPA Trust Fund is deposited back into the fund and used as part of the annual matching payments to CPA communities. Since CPA was passed, the interest earned has been substantial, as shown in this Department of Revenue (DOR) spreadsheet. The report also shows the administrative expenses that have been charged to the Trust Fund by DOR to cover administration of the CPA program.
Click here to see the interest totals and DOR expenses by fiscal year

It is also "interesting" to note that your unspent local CPA funds, including the reserve accounts, should also have the interest earnings credited back to your CPA account. This is covered in Section 7 of the CPA Law. There has been a least one instance of a community failing to receive the interest earned on their CPA funds because they were not aware of this rule, so it is always a good idea to track the CPA interest on a yearly basis.

Building a better CPA application process

CPA application deadlines and procedures can be a source of controversy in many communities. As a result, some Community Preservation Committees (CPCs) find it beneficial to fine-tune their application and review procedures as their CPA program evolves. CPCs grapple with how to create enough time and get the proper information to review project proposals. CPCs also want to have the flexibility to react to special circumstances, such as an opportunity to acquire land on short notice or for emergency work on historic projects. The best way to make the process easier for both the CPC and applicants is through a clear review process, submission requirements, and application, as well as stated procedures for exceptions to the process.

Making your CPA dollars go further
youth group volunteers at Vanderhoop Homestead Aquinnah

The term 'leveraging' most often refers to using committed funding to obtain (or leverage) additional public or private funding for projects. A less conventional way to leverage funds is through in-kind donations of labor and materials. In-kind donations can significantly reduce project costs - an important objective established by many CPA communities. Project proponents have used many creative avenues to obtain in-kind donations, including approaching local merchants, seeking help from local professionals, holding community volunteer work days, and working with Eagle Scout candidates. This article highlights an historic restoration project in Aquinnah, with in-kind donations of over 40% of the total budget!

There is help available to jumpstart your CPA housing program
Housing in Cambridge

Your CPC could get some free technical advice about housing. Citizens' Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) - the non-profit umbrella organization for affordable housing in Massachusetts - is sponsoring an initiative to help identify, energize, and mobilize local support for affordable housing in towns and small cities. With help from the Miller Foundation, CHAPA will provide a total of $75,000 in funding and/or technical assistance to three to five communities to help them advance a specific affordable housing development or create a better environment in which to advance a local affordable housing agenda.

Examples of eligible projects/activities include:
Support for affordable housing proposals in front of local approval boards
Municipal interest in selling publicly-owned land and/or buildings
Town meeting/council hearings on zoning by-laws or other land use regulatory changes
Local efforts to utilize a greater portion of CPA funds for housing

Anyone interested in more information, including a brief response form, can access it here.

Response forms must be completed and submitted to CHAPA no later than 5:00 pm on Tuesday, June 10th, 2008. If you have any questions, contact Karen Wiener at kwiener@chapa.org or 617/742-0820.

This issue's featured CPA project
rainbow at Leverett Pone

The CPA project featured in this issue is an open space and recreation project in the Town of Leverett. The photograph at the top of this newsletter shows one of the few public access areas on the shores of Leverett Pond. The Town of Leverett used CPA funds to purchase an 8.9 acre waterfront property for watershed and shoreline protection and to extend an existing trail around the Pond.

Leverett Pond is the only natural pond in Leverett and consists of 33 acres of open water plus 70 acres of aquatic vegetation and shrub swamp. Leverett Pond is used for boating and fishing. Swimming access is currently hindered by the vegetation at the perimeter of the Pond. Public access to the Pond is also limited because most of the land surrounding the Pond is privately owned.

The Town's Open Space and Recreation Plan identified acquiring frontage on Leverett Pond to provide greater public access as a high-priority community goal. This CPA project, which funded a bargain sale of $25K for acquisition of the waterfront property, furthers the achievement of this important community goal.

In Leverett's Spring 2008 Town Meeting, the Town will consider CPA funding for the acquisition of another waterfront property which would create an additional two acres of town-owned land on the Pond and would enable the development of a public beach.

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Stuart Saginor
Community Preservation Coalition

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