Conservation Land Opportunities on tap for Fall Town Meeting
By Gregory T. Federspiel
At the upcoming November 19 Fall Town Meeting, voters will be asked to approve funding for two projects that the Community Preservation Committee is advancing. Approval is being sought now in order for the projects to proceed.
The first funding request is to add dollars to the renovations to the Town Common in front of Town Hall. Voters previously approved using Community Preservation Funds to complete the design work for a new layout of the Common as well as initial funds to construct the new design. Originally the project was targeted to be a relative simple project to expand the amount of green space by reducing the amount of asphalt pathways and the size of the paved area in front of the First parish Church as well as planting new trees.
The scope of the project has grown as various committees have requested additional work. The project now includes replacing the handicap ramp to Town Hall to bring it into compliance with modern code requirements, replacing all the asphalt with decorative pavers which are also pervious to allow for natural drainage, new, more historic looking lighting, steps in the path leading to the Police Station which reduce the steepness of the pathway, and the replacement of old gas and water lines to Town Hall and Seaside 1.
All these additions have added to the cost of the project. The low bid for the project has come in at $372,200. We have $147,200 available for the project, including donated funds. Thus, the Community Preservation Committee is asking voters to approve an additional $225,000 from funds currently in the Community Preservation Account in order to move forward with the enhanced project.
This renovation work has been designed in conjunction with the privately funded new Honor Roll Memorial planned for the Common as well. Both projects have all the necessary permits in hand. It is anticipated that both projects would move forward in tandem and be completed by the start of next summer.
A second Community Preservation request is to approve granting $3,000 to the non-profit Manchester Historical Society to assist in their restoration work of the Trask House, across from the Library. The Society will use the funds to help pay for interior restoration work on the kitchen walls and adjacent hallway.
The Town has been a participant in the Community Preservation program for 12 years. The CPA allows towns to levy a surcharge of up to 3% on property taxes. For all but one year when we had a 3% surcharge, Manchester voters have agreed to a 1.5% surcharge. These local dollars are matched at variable rates by state dollars. Manchester has raised roughly $3 million in local funds and has received $1 million in state funds for an average of a 33% match. CPA funds can be used for three main purposes: open space and recreation, affordable housing, and historic preservation.