Natick this fall seeks to assemble its Community Preservation Committee (CPC), which will be responsible for reviewing requests for funds and making recommendations to Town Meeting for approval. Spring Annual Town Meeting overwhelmingly (92%) approved a motion to amend Natick’s bylaws to create a CPC under the Community Preservation Act (CPA), which resulted starting this summer in a local property tax surcharge to establish a pool of money to support investment in historic preservation, open space, recreation, and affordable housing.
The CPA has been around in Massachusetts since 2000, and more than half of the state’s cities and towns have adopted it. Monies collected by the town can be supplemented by state matching funds, and Natick’s plan is for CPA funds to complement other funding for its projects.
The town has opened the process for committee candidates to apply. Five of the 9 committee members will come from existing Natick governmental bodies—the Conservation Commission, Planning Board, Historical Commission, Housing Authority, and Recreation & Parks Commission. Four at-large members will be appointed to 3-year terms by the Select Board with an eye toward diverse representation by precinct and more.
A community planner hired by the town will oversee CPA implementation. The first jobs of the committee, expected to meet beginning in 2024, will focus on basic rules for how it will operate, including frequency of meetings.
After that, things get interesting, as the committee will field proposals and recommend funding awards. To get a sense of what other communities use CPA money for, next door in Wellesley the CPC has been asked for funds heading into fall special town meeting. These could be used to fund a feasibility study about placing pickleball courts in the parking lot for the town pond and for a strategic housing study.