Meg Steinberg, chair of Marion’s Historical Commission, appeared before the Marion Community Preservation Committee on January 8 to request $25,000 in funding to continue the town’s architectural survey on Upper Point Road, originally settled by Cape Verdean communities.
Steinberg explained that last year, the CPC awarded a $25,000 grant in accordance with the Historical Commission’s mission. Some of the money was used for a $10,000 study. The commission wants to use the rest for a new grant matching from the state. Steinberg reported that this year, the state encouraged another pre-application and approved the use of the rest of the CPC funds of $15,000 to set the basis for a match.
“We won’t know if they’re getting that grant until the spring; we’d like to do more surveys,” said Steinberg. “We want to have a good base before we decide which properties we should protect [with local and national designations].”
The state, said Steinberg, advised that the Marion Historical Commission should stick with the same consultants and “keep trying to pile these grants one over the other over the years to get everything done.”
The CPC issued a press release on January 12, officially inviting applications that are accessible in the Town Clerk’s office in the Marion Town House at 2 Spring Street. In Friday’s meeting, the CPC announced that applications are also now accessible electronically by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Community Preservation Act is a state law that allows participating municipalities to adopt a real estate tax surcharge supplemented by state matching funds to fund community preservation projects.
In Marion, CPC funding has been used for several projects, including the Osprey Marsh boardwalk, nine affordable housing units, design and secure permits for Phase I of the bike path, the purchase of lands and conservation interests in the Mattapoisett River Valley to protect Marion’s drinking water, to catalog Sippican Historical Society archives and complete the town’s architectural survey, to restore Marion’s historic 1937 Maxim fire truck, Town House restoration, inclusive playground equipment at the Sippican School, and to purchase cast aluminum grave markers for veterans’ graves at town cemeteries.
CPC member Will Tifft mention another $25,000 request from the Sippican Historical Society to archive town records, outsourcing something the town wants to have done. Regarding the renovation work on the Town House, CPC member Randy Parker said the town would submit an application.
The CPC is consulting with town counsel regarding a potential time limit on the usage of awarded CPC funds.
Chairman Jeff Doubrava said that applications would remain open until 4:00 pm Thursday, February 11. At the CPC’s next meeting on Friday, February 12, the committee will meet with any applicants, and they will explain the intent of their requests.
On February 26 at 5:00 pm, the CPC will meet to conduct public hearings and hold discussion and deliberation, but all cases heard for the first time will continue one week per the town’s remote-meeting policy to allow time for the formulation of public comments and questions.
On March 5 at 5:00 pm, the CPC will meet to vote on any and all applications and draft articles on those approved to be included in the warrant for the Spring Town Meeting.
After Tifft declared the Music Hall Committee’s interest in refinishing the building’s floor, a $5,000 estimated expense, to be a maintenance issue and therefore not under the consideration of the CPC, CPC member Andrew Daniel asked, “What are the parameters of qualification for CPC funding?”
Doubrava explained, “If you don’t maintain something long enough, you have to restore it, and it becomes [subject to CPC funding].”
Further discussion clarified that CPC funding is not limited to municipal buildings nor properties owned by non-profit organizations. However, CPC funding comes with a deed restriction. “If you’re going to be funded, you have to give us back that the building is not going to be torn down or changed,” said Doubrava.
CPC member John Rockwell noted that private structures that qualify for CPC funding would almost certainly be turned down at Town Meeting.
Steinberg asked hypothetically if Tabor Academy could apply for CPC funding to restore the Richardson House that the prep school owns.
“They can ask. I think I know what would happen at Town Meeting,” said Doubrava, who pointed to the CPC Coalition, a non-governmental, independent, lobbying/consulting organization that can answer such questions for organizations before they do all the leg work. “We use them quite a lot,” said Parker, also the chairman of the Marion Board of Selectmen.
Daniel posed another hypothetical of an aged couple fallen on hard times with a roof that’s leaking, but they own a historic house. Parker said that the deed restriction that would come with any work funded by CPC would carry with a sale of the property, “And so would the shingles,” he said.
Doubrava said that to secure funding to supplement the Sippican Historical Society’s sponsorship of the restoration of the Town House, the society had to write a letter and meet with the state Department of Interior. The funding came with strict stipulations regarding the approval of materials and design. Parker noted that the Marion Art Center has a deed restriction on its second floor, so the current need to repair a couple of missing slates on the southeast side will require CPC involvement.
The next meeting of the Marion Community Preservation Committee is scheduled for Friday, February 12.
Marion Community Preservation Committee
By Mick Colageo