CPA preservation Articles: Burial Ground, Library Facade and 30 acre woods

Above: Town Meeting voters will be asked to allocate CPC funds towards preserving the Old Burial Ground, the Library’s historic facade and a 30 acre parcel of wooded Open Space. (photos clockwise: by Kate Matison, by Ryan Donovan, from Google Maps)

I promised to follow up on more details around Town Meeting Warrant Articles that I’d not really covered in depth. Today, I’ll focus Community Preservation Commission sponsored Articles.

Many readers already know about CPC’s support of the Southborough Golf Club (aka St. Mark’s Golf Course). I’ll be writing more about that prior to ATM, but this post is about preservation beyond those greens.

First, I should note that all of these articles ask for funding through the Community Preservation Act. That means approving the projects is about choosing priorities, not adding to your taxes. (If you’re not familiar with what that means, scroll down for the explanation.)*

This year, in addition to the golf course, the CPC prioritized restoring/preserving the Old Burial Ground, the Library’s historic facade and a 30 acre parcel of woodland Open Space.

Here are more details.

Old Burial Ground (by Kate Matison)

Article 25: Restoration of Old Burial Ground

At a recent Board of Selectmen meeting, officials noted that many of the leaning tombstones in the Town’s 1730-1898 cemetery are vulnerable to erosion. Our Town’s history engraved in stone is being washed away. The article asks for $26,450 to fund restoration work. (The project is budgeted at $23,000 with the additional funds as contingency for unforseen costs.)

The project would follow through on a plan for 89 headstones to be repaired, straightened and cleaned. The Historical Commission began laying groundwork for public support through the blog last summer. You can read more about their request (and past efforts), plus see some great photos of what’s at stake here.

Library facade issues for CPC article (by Ryan Donovan)Article 26: Library Facade Restoration Project

This article focuses on the assessment stage of a project to preserve the facade of the historic portion of the Southborough Library, built in 1911. The Library Trustees want to assess the impact of wear and tear on the over 100 year old building.

Library with ivy (by Susan Fitzgerald)Some of you may remember the ivy that used to grown on the Library (as in old photo right). While it added to the historic image, it wasn’t good for the stonework. (You can still see some remnant roots in a close up below.) And it seems to have contributed to the erosion of the Library’s engraving.

But that’s not the main erosion issue. For that, look to the outer staircase to Common Street, which has begun to crumble. There have also been water leaks that call for a good look at the roof. (Click on thumbnails below for a better look at some of the issues.)

Southborough Library Common Street entrance (by Susan Fitzgerald) Library facade issues for CPC article (by Ryan Donovan) Library facade issues for CPC article (by Ryan Donovan) Library erosion and ivy roots (by Beth Melo)

$32,530 is requested for a building and site related assessment, plus a prioritized list of treatment recommendations.

Rock Point parcel on Google MapsArticle 27: Acquisition of 0 Rockpoint Road

In what the CPC seems to consider a bargain, this article would assign $175,000 to preserve an over 30 acre woods with trails. (It’s not quite a Winnie the Pooh sized parcel, but nothing to sneeze at.)

The “Halloran” property between Hubley Lane and Rock Point Road is:

identified as a top priority parcel in our Open Space and Recreation Plan, and designated as a highest priority for wildlife habitat protection in the survey done by Mass Audubon, while providing passive recreation opportunities on the existing system of trails traversing the beautiful woodlands.

The 30.67 acre parcel would be purchased for $125,000 with the remainder used to cover the legal expenses. (Click on thumbnails below to get a better idea of the parcel’s location and scale.)

Rock Point parcel on GIS map closeup of Rock Point parcel on GIS map

*CPC funds – Through the Community Preservation Act, the Town collects surcharges, partially matched by the state for the fund. It’s a set amount that doesn’t vary depending on the projects funded. The surcharge is based on the following formula: The first $100,000 of residential value is tax exempt. Tax bills include a 1% surcharge on the remainder.

That means, while it’s not free money, approving a project doesn’t increase your taxes. At least not directly.

Opponents of specific past projects in the past have argued they would reduce the coffers for other projects. That can mean that a project down the road that could have been funded by the CPA would instead require funding through the Town’s operating/capital budgets.

So, a vote on spending CPA funds is about deciding how much to dedicate to a specific project vs leave available in accounts for future projects.

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