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Needham hearing to discuss three Community Preservation Act projects

Posted by Evan Allen  October 4, 2012 05:20 PM

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The Needham Community Preservation Committee is holding a Public Hearing on Oct. 10 to discuss three projects on the Special Town Meeting warrant that will be paid for with Community Preservation Act funds if they pass.

The projects, which the Board of Selectmen discussed on Tuesday night, include funding a Rail Trail feasibility study, funding construction of a home for people with disabilities, and repairing Greene’s Field.

The CPA program allows cities and towns to assess a property-tax surcharge of up to 3 percent to pay for open space, recreation, affordable housing, and historical preservation projects, with the money raised locally supplemented by state matching funds.

This fiscal year, which started on July 1, the program was overhauled: now, CPA funds can also be used to rehabilitate recreational assets that were not originally acquired or created with CPA money.

Until the change was made, Greene’s Field repairs were not covered by the CPA. Warrant Article 10 requests $445,000 to renovate the field and replace the playground structure on the field that was removed in 2010. Those funds will be supplemented by $50,000 of privately fundraised money.

“I know this board is in favor of this,” said Selectman John Builan on Tuesday. “It will be a great economic engine for this town. It brings kids, it brings people. Nothing brings me greater pleasure than seeing the town bustling.”

“It’s a great example of why this law needed to be changed,” said Jerry Wasserman, Chair of the Board.

The proposed project, a detailed description of which can be found in the Board of Selectmen Agenda Packet from Oct. 2., would include a play structure for multiple age groups, a walking path, basketball court improvements, backstop and benches, among other things.

More than $8,000 has already been raised to fund the renovation.

If the article passes in Town Meeting, the project could be implemented in the spring of 2013.

The second CPA warrant article requests funding to help the Charles River Association for Retarded Citizens, Inc. build a five-bedroom home on South Street for adults with developmental disabilities. The original request asks for $500,000, but additional funds called HOME Funds have become available from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Planning Board will hold a public meeting on Oct. 16 to discuss whether to allocate $280,000 to the Charles River Project, which would drop the CPA’s obligation to $220,000.

The project is set to break ground this winter.

The final CPA article requests $35,000 for a Rail Trail feasibility study. The town has been discussing the possibility of a rail trail from Needham Junction to the Dover line at the Charles River for several years, and discussions are underway in Dover and Medfield to build connecting sections. The feasibility study would look at safe access points, assess the timber bridge crossing the Charles River, and evaluate parking.

The Board of Selectmen has not yet voted on whether they support the three CPA articles.

The Special Town Meeting will be held on Oct. 29.

The Public Hearing will be held at Needham Town Hall in the Selectmen’s Chambers. Anyone with questions should call 781-455-7550x3.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com

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