Abington’s Community Preservation Funds at work

New entrance to the Millennium Memorial Complex. CPA project by the Abington Summer Concerts Committee. Photo by Jan Prall.

Ever since the Millennium Memorial Complex was completed in 2005, Nancy Reid wanted a “proper” entrance from the shared Town Hall and Town Library parking lots. Now, 16 years later, due to Community Preservation Act funding, Reid’s wish came true.

“The timing for the new entrance couldn’t be better,” said Reid, who chairs the Abington Summer Concerts Committee.  “The footbridge that had been donated by the Abington Rotary Club as a walkway into the Complex was becoming too small for the number of people attending concerts, especially when everyone exits at the same time. And the base of the little footbridge had begun to deteriorate as well.” 

Abington is one of 176 Massachusetts communities that have adopted the Community Preservation Act, which is also known as the CPA. The CPA allows towns to create a local funding stream that can be spent only on open space protection, historic preservation, affordable housing, and outdoor recreation. Community preservation money is raised by levying a property-tax surcharge of up to 3 percent. Cities and towns that adopt the CPA also receive funds from the statewide Community Preservation Trust Fund each year to help fund these projects.

Abington voters approved a 1.5 percent surcharge in 2016 after previously rejecting it.

Since adopting the CPA, improvements have been made to Griffin Dairy Farm, the American Legion building, Abington’s Pickleball courts, Abington Public Library’s Story Garden, and the track at Reilly Field. Local historical markers have been put in place, studies produced on Island Grove, as well as Memorial Bridge, and historical town documents have been preserved. 

And by the end of this month, the Abington Summer Concerts Committee will have completed their project at the Millennium Memorial Complex by adding additional lighting and remodeling the entrance which began back in 2017.

“The application process for receiving a CPA grant was a long and sometimes frustrating process but the end result is well worth the effort,” said Reid.

“The lighting project was completed in June of 2019 and the new entrance is due to be completed this  June,” she said. “Of the several companies who bid on the entrance project, Glenn LaPointe, Inc., was the lowest bidder and will be finishing up the project soon.” 

Until the CPA was adopted, options to improve Griffin Dairy Farm were minimal due to lack of funding. 

“Griffin Dairy has now started phase 3 of their project,” said Kelly Johnson, Community Preservation Committee Secretary. “This phase includes more walking paths, bridges and fencing. The Griffin Dairy project has been approved for the last three years and they have done some really great work up there.

“The entire committee is run by volunteers.  They have created several walking paths, a community garden, open playing fields and have a farmer using some of the land for his crops,” said Johnson.  “All this was done using predominantly CPA funds.”

Each fiscal year, per CPA guidelines, Abington must spend, or set aside for future spending, the following share of their annual CPA revenues on three core areas: 10 percent for open space and recreation; 10 percent for historic resources; and 10 percent for community housing.

The remaining 70 percent of the revenues may be spent or reserved for future projects in any of these three areas. CPA dollars are never directed to the town’s general fund and may only be spent on the CPA core areas.

Abington’s Community Preservation Committee is made up of representatives from each of the standing committees as well as four at-large members. Meetings are open to the public, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings have been on hold.

“The committee has cancelled in-person meetings until June,” said Jeff Rangel, chairman of the committee.  “We will need direction and assistance from the town as to how they want us to proceed.”

“We are grateful to the Town of Abington’s residents for voting to participate in the CPA,” said Reid.  “The Millennial Memorial Complex was always a nice place to be but now it will be even better.”

To apply for development of projects, large or small, or to enhance the town of Abington with CPA funds, visit www.abingtonma.gov/community-preservation to begin the application process. Another useful resource to get informed of the legal requirements as well as coming up with ideas at www.communitypreservation.org.

Written by Michele Christian

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