SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 1, 2012

Letter: Vote yes to preserve Salem's treasures


The Salem News

---- — 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.

I am keenly aware of the many worthy projects that we were not able to initiate due to lack of funding. Just a few of these include repairs to the Salem Common fence and arch, the Winter Island hangar and barracks buildings, and Old Town Hall. Many parks are in need of improvements and upgrades, as are the Forest River pool and Olde Salem Greens golf course. While all of these resources make Salem a great community to live in, they also increase the financial burden of the city to maintain them.

Salem had a chance to pass CPA five years ago, when it lost by just 300 votes. That is five years our city missed out on matching funds that approximately 150 other communities in the commonwealth have taken advantage of. I have spoken with officials in those communities, and CPA funding has helped all of them tremendously. However, it remains lost funding for Salem, which could have resulted in maintenance and repairs we could not otherwise afford.

Now is the time for our historic city to pass this bill and receive our share of these funds, allowing us to preserve the historic treasures of our city for our enjoyment and the enjoyment of future generations. Thank you for your consideration as you vote on Tuesday.

Doug Bollen

Former director

Park, Recreation and

Community Services

Salem