Billerica CPC Recommends Funding Eight Projects
BILLERICA -- After months of deliberation, the Community Preservation Committee recommended funding eight out of eight proposals from the group’s first ever round of applications.
Together, these applications represent $1.6 million in projects, ranging from building a disc golf course, to renovating a historic home-turned-museum, to plans for the Yankee Doodle Bike Path.
Last week, the committee voted to recommend placing all eight projects on a single warrant at the Oct. 2 Fall Town Meeting.
The projects are as follows:
* Affordable Housing: The Billerica Housing Authority requested $160,000 to buy affordable housing units as they come on the market.
* Preservation Needs Assessment: The Billerica Public Library requested $6,135 to assess the current processes and equipment used to store historic documents.
* Clara Sexton Memorial Museum Preservation Project: The Billerica Historical Society requested $101,000 for repairs to the Clara Sexton House, including painting and replacing windows. This request was increased from the initial amount, $76,000, to account for contingencies, according to Community Development Director Rob Anderson.
* Howe School: The Town Manager’s Office requested $420,000 for the design stage of new construction and refurbishment of the historic building on Boston Road.
* Middlesex Canal Museum: The Middlesex Canal Association requested $100,000 for exterior work at the future location of the organization’s museum at 2 Old Elm St.
* Yankee Doodle Bike Path: The Town Manager’s Office requested $367,000 in funding to bring the bike path from its current 25 percent design stage to 75 percent complete design.
* Peggy Hannon Rizza Complex: The Town Manager’s Office requested $433,200 for the reconfiguration, design and construction of fields.
* Disc Golf: The Billerica Recreation Department requested $17,806 to install a disc golf course at Vietnam Veterans Park. The request was lowered from $19,950 in a revised work estimate, Anderson said.
The Community Preservation Act was adopted by voters in November 2016 as a dedicated fund for local open-space protection, affordable housing, outdoor recreation and historic preservation.
It adds a 1 percent surcharge to assessed property value in the town, resulting in a $33 increase for the annual tax bill of the average single-family home. Included in the act are exemptions for some residents, including low-income households or low/moderate income for senior housing.
According to Anderson, the fund currently contains over $1.7 million.
Last week’s hearing drew few speakers, but almost every proposal received a unanimous vote of support from the committee. Member Marlies Henderson abstained from the vote on the bike path.
Henderson, a former committee chair, pushed back at some points during the process. She has spoken in favor of spreading the projects across multiple warrants instead of one.
She also requested Billerica ask for feedback from the state Community Preservation Coalition on the draft warrant, a service she said they provide for free. The committee voted down the proposal 7-2, after several members and two town employees spoke against the proposal.
“The coalition has different agendas, agendas that don’t represent the town of Billerica and might conflict,” said Town Manager John Curran.
Follow Elizabeth Dobbins on Twitter @ElizDobbins