, Salem, MA

October 25, 2012

Letter: A planner's perspective on the CPA

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

I was very surprised when I found out the cities of Salem and Beverly were not taking advantage of the state’s matching-grant opportunity through the Community Preservation Act (the CPA, not to be mistaken with certified public accountant) especially during a time when money is getting tighter and tighter on the state and local levels.

I was further surprised to see that both communities were “Green Communities,” which means there are other grants available to citizens and business that were not being utilized. Why not?

More than a year ago, I took my own money and time to go down to the Statehouse to fight for this mechanism (CPA) to give local towns and cities the opportunity to filter money down to the local levels. I knew this was important. (The “green” was and always has been maintained as a public facility to hold vital events such as free speech and political speeches. Our very name Commonwealth of Massachusetts was derived from the “green” of public open space and free speech). That is what we are all about. The CPA is an existing tool in which communities can receive matching moneys from the state level. Why wouldn’t every community want this?

The truth is never easy, but it will probably be harder and harder to receive any money from the state in the future and perhaps even more so, depending on who is elected. But it is in the average person in the community’s best interest to get this money while it is available. In 25 years working on the local and state levels, I’ve learned this: Money does NOT come easy! We must all fight for our share.

I would highly recommend CPA for all communities along the shoreline to aid in stormwater maintenance but more specifically to the city of Salem for its high volume of exquisite period architecture in that would be a monumental devastation to lose.

The CPA provides maintenance and acquisition funds for open space, stormwater management (Salem is near the bottom of the watershed and will see more flooding in the near future, almost like Peabody) and historic structures. Provisions can be made in the regulation as to the amount of tax, from 1 percent to 3 percent.

Also, exemptions can be made for low-income, assessments $100,000 and under, or persons on a limited budget — whatever the community decides. The main issue is it’s a community-involved decision and should be treated as such. Inhabitants create and maintain their own communities. It’s up to you to decide if you want to try to obtain matching state funds (grants) to help sustain your community. It helps alleviate the burden on the local municipality and ultimately the average person.

Melanie Hiris