The Community Preservation Committee met on Thursday night at Center School for the first of four meetings to glean public input on how to revamp the town’s community preservation act. The CPC developed its first community preservation plan five years ago.
“We felt that it was time to update it, not just because it was five years old, but the law has changed to allow other uses for the money,” said chairman John DeCosta.
Mattapoisett is home to many historical resources from its cemeteries to several of its buildings. Both histories of local Native American cultures as well as early European settlers have been well documented in the area. The CPC is dedicated to helping preserve as many of those historical assets as possible via such means as purchasing open space, maintaining archaeological sites, and nominating places for recognition by the National Registry of Historic Places.
DeCosta began the discussion by asking the group to pinpoint historically relevant municipal and institutional buildings, residential structures, agricultural and open space sites, as well as documents and artifacts.
Over 20,000 items can be found at the Mattapoisett Historical Society Museum and Carriage House.
“We recently received a gift from the [New Bedford] Whaling Museum. It’s the center portion of the original mast of the Wanderer,” said town historian Seth Mendell. “It is Mattapoisett.”
CPC member Brad Hathaway said he had a collection of historic documents dating back to when the Tri-Town area was known as Rochester.
Given the enormity of the list they compiled, deciding which projects would get high priority was difficult. Mendell suggested eliminating some items that the committee deemed “stable” and not requiring immediate attention, such as Center School.
During the discussion of how to prioritize, DeCosta broached the subject of how to determine which criteria are used to weigh the importance of each potential project.
Town Administrator Mike Gagne said that funding sources should be considered as part of those guidelines, indicating that there may be other places for which to acquire historic preservation money.
“Are there other sources of funding or are the only alternatives CPC funds?” he said.
The Committee agreed that historic significance and public benefit would be leading factors in choosing where to allocate funding.
Hathaway said one of the most important aspects of preserving the town was found in creating more open space in Mattapoisett.
“Once you lose the open space, it’s gone. That’s it,” he said.
Gagne suggested devising a more direct way of contacting the residents, whether via the town website or mailings, offering information on which projects the CPC is considering.
“I think we’re very open to that as a committee because we want as much input as we can get. It’s the people’s money, it’s not our money. We want to try to get it out the best we can to do the most good with it,” said DeCosta.
“We’ve got a lot of things to consider as we begin building sections of the plan back up.”
The next public input meeting for the Mattapoisett Community Preservation Committee will be held on Thursday, February 28, 2013, at 6:30 pm at Center School.
By Eric Tripoli