To the editor:
As Election Day nears, I respectfully ask Salem residents to vote yes on Question 4 to pass the Community Preservation Act.
As the director of parks, recreation and community services for the city of Salem for the past 10 years, I firmly believe CPA is a perfect fit. Ours is a community rich in history. But with that history comes the challenge and cost of maintaining and preserving our many park facilities and historic buildings. The CPA is specifically designed for communities such as ours that need financial assistance to preserve their natural beauty and enhance the quality of life for their citizens.
While it is a tax — on average $30 per family per year — it will not go into the general funds of the city. Instead, 90 percent of CPA funding can be specifically designated for the upkeep and restoration of our historic and national resources, maintaining the history and beauty of the city we live in. In addition, the state of Massachusetts will provide a match of CPA funds collected, increasing the amount of funding designated specifically for repairs and renovations.
During my first few years as parks and recreation director, all capital improvements were frozen, while many of our parks and resources sat in need of improvements, something that would not have happened with CPA funding. In recent years, we were able to make great progress, such as building 13 new playgrounds over the past four years. And while these enhancements were partially funded by grants and donations from neighborhood groups, the majority of cost for these projects came from capital money or bonds, which the city will be paying back with interest — adding to the general debt of the city and, in turn, its citizens. CPA funding is not a loan and does not incur interest or usage penalties.