If the town approves, there will be an update to the organ at the Historical Society's museum, an improved heating system at the town hall, and a demolition of the old senior center. This year, Northborough's Community Preservation Committee is asking to appropriate thousands to maintain, protect and update pieces of property in Northborough.
Several articles on this year's warrant focus on the preservation and improvement of historic and significant land and property in Northborough.
The Community Preservation Committee, which facilitates funds from Massachusetts' Community Preservation Act that is dedicated to open space preservation, historic buildings and affordable housing.
The participating towns (which Campbell remarks has increased) raises money for the preservation fund by property tax surcharges that does not exceed three percent. The funds are also matched, by percentages, from the state based on how much that town has raised. The percentage match, Campbell added, has declined over the years, but he expects it to trend back up.
"The Community Preservation Committee has been consistent in our approach over the years," said Chairman John Campbell. "It was molded in 2005 and we have adopted policities that have been very effective. We look for some key criteria, one of which the project must meet the CPA guidelines, and those laid out by committee itself. We have certain criteria in each core area, and then we look for where the projects meet the community the best. In that regard, the committee has made good decisions, and the town can see tangible results."
Campbell detailed the articles that involve money that Community Preservation Act has facilitated involving the Community Preservation Act.
All are contingent on the approval at this year's town meeting.
The Community Preservation Act would contribute $350,000 to the town hall heating system, a system in desperate need of an upgrade. The building is historic, and the committee is taking advantage of the CPA's provision to use money for capital improvements on historic buildings. "We did this before with improvements to the roof and entryways," said Campbell.
Article 38 asks that the town appropriates $50,000 from the Community Preservation Fund to set aside for future open space preservation. In the past, such funds have been used to acquire and preserve Mt. Pisgah as well as land on Green Street, purchased from the Shunder Family.
"That's now town-owned land and is recreation land we will soon be developing," he said.
More recently, this conservation fund money was used to purchase forestry land off of Ball Street.
An 1847 George Stevens pipe organ sits in the Historical Society building—an organ that is on its last notes. To repair and restore this historic piece of musical equipment, the committee is asking to appropriate $7,200 from the preservation fund to do so.
In the cemeteries off of Howard and Brigham Streets, many gravestones are decaying and tipped over. In what is hoped to be phase one of several phases, article 40 asks for $5,000 for upkeep of these Colonial-era cemeteries.
A total of $50,000 will be held in a historic reserve fund, if approved, allowing the committee to draw from the fund when a "situation presents itself" much like the historical committee's fund, which can be used to acquire a historic building if it becomes available.
To begin the construction of affordable housing in the former Senior Center's location, the former senior center needs to be demolished. Based on an expert's recommendation for demolition and clean-up, preservation funds will be transferred to the Northborough Housing Authority to facilitate the demolition.
"This is phase one," said Campbell. "The Housing Authority needed more than they originally thought to demolish this. They need to accomplish this and then they will put it out to bid, and one of the applicants will be the Affordable Housing Corporation, and if they are successful, they will build there."
A total of $11,015 from the fund to the committee will be appropriated for debt service and expenses associated with the open space land acquisition for fiscal year 2013.
And lastly, article 44 is a "housekeeping article" allowing the committee to use preservation funds for expenses associated with the Community Preservation Act. "It allows us to put five percent toward an administrative account to use toward appraisals and lawyer fees. That ends up in the unreserved balance if not used."
"There is pending legislation with the state that would change the way CPA works," Campbell added. "Currently, it’s restricted in that we’re not able to contribute to the restoration of a facility if it wasn’t originally facilitated with CPA funding. That has restricted us on many applications such as adding to our schools and parks and other projects. Hopefully, if the language is changed, we can use funds in other ways."
Campbell added that since more communities have adopted the CPA, and the state reserve has gone down, there are fewer funds available.
"We expect that trend to go up," he said.