Residents provide feedback to the Framingham Community Preservation Committee

By Jack Landsiedel

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FRAMINGHAM – The Framingham Community Preservation Committee (CPC) held a public forum on Wednesday June 22 at City Hall.

Residents have been invited to provide feedback on the draft Community Preservation Plan (CPP) for fiscal year 2023 which begins July 1, 2022.

The committee is responsible for assessing the preservation needs of the Framingham community and making recommendations for Community Preservation Fund (CPC Fund) appropriations to the City Council as part of the annual budget process. To To learn more about the Committee, click here.

There are openings within the Committee, after the resignation of three people in June.

In the first part of the public hearing, Community Preservation Committee Vice Chair Judith Grove provided an overview of the committee’s structure, responsibilities and timeline.

The Community Preservation Act (CPA) is a law of the State of Massachusetts. Votes in Framingham passed it on November 3, 2020. The law allows municipalities to raise funds to create, preserve and support open spaces, historic sites, outdoor recreation and affordable housing.

In Framingham, the law is funded by a 1% surtax on local property tax, amounting to $1.6 million so far this year. In future years, the fund will receive a 35% counterpart from the State.

The Framingham Community Preservation Committee budget requires 10% expenditures each for 1) open space and outdoor recreation, 2) historic needs, and 3) community housing needs. This is in addition to the 5% administration expense and 65% flexible expense for the previous three categories.

The committee was created in July 2021 with nine volunteer members to develop the community preservation plan, hold public hearings and recommend projects to city council. Its mission is to “maintain a process that is accessible, ethical, transparent and representative of Framingham’s geographic and demographic diversity.”

Projects must conform to the Plan and its criteria, and serve the community.

Final funding approval will be determined by a majority vote of City Council.

The application process and relevant due dates are as follows.

  • July 15, 2022: Pre-qualification available and after approval by the Community Preservation Committee (CPC)
  • August 1, 2022: applicant can submit full application
  • September 8, 2022: Deadline to submit a pre-qualification request
  • October 15, 2022: Deadline to submit a complete application
  • October-December 2022: the committee holds hearings, examines projects and gives its opinion
  • December 2022: Community Preservation Committee ranks and shortlists projects
  • January 2023: Community Preservation Committee vote on projects to send to City Council
  • By February 1, 2023: Community Preservation Committee recommends list of projects to City Council

Below are examples of projects.

  1. Open space
  • Continuing plans for the Bruce Freeman Trail, Chris Walsh Trail, Bay Circuit Trail and others
  • Create new community gardens
  • Upgrade pocket parks throughout Framingham
  • Ensuring ADA Compliance in Recreational Facilities
  1. Historic preservation
  • Renovate/restore the Village Town Hall, Atheneum Hall and Edgell Memorial Library
  • Curate Framingham’s Oldest Documents and Artifacts
  • Participation in MCI ownership if the State decides to sell
  • Grants to NPOs that own historic properties under the eligibility criteria
  1. Community housing
  • Create housing on the ground floor and accessible for residents with reduced mobility
  • Create subsidized units
  • Create Extremely Low Income Units (ELI)
  • Establish the proximity of housing to dense employment areas and public transport

In the second part of the meeting, residents were invited to ask questions and discuss opportunities for the Community Preservation Plan (CPP) in the above categories. Their ideas and concerns can be found below.

Former fair housing committee chair Hank Moran told the committee about the ‘difficult challenge of trying to understand the different roles of different departments involved in housing’ and recommended the city compare any planned funding to plans. to “develop coherence within the community”. .” The committee responded that future housing opportunities could be developed with “CPC seed money,” but would require collaboration between city governments.

“It is so important that we have an updated housing plan for Framingham with updated data so that we can really focus on our needs,” relayed Karen Margolis, noting that the data “is probably fifteen years old”. . “A big problem is that affordable housing just isn’t affordable” and “really doesn’t meet the needs of the people who live in our community.”

“As Chairman of the Framingham School Committee, I encourage […] it’s up to you to support and promote projects that […] bring our children outside,” recommended Priscila Sousa, seeking to “mitigate the lingering effects of the pandemic” on mental health. “South Framingham neighborhoods need more open space. I strongly urge the CPC to select projects in these neighborhoods, especially around environmental justice sites.

“The district in our community with the fewest open public spaces is actually the one I have the privilege of representing, District 4,” Councilman Mike Cannon told CPC. “We have no public parks apart from Simpson Park”, which is currently difficult to access. But, he is optimistic that “there are opportunities to increase parking ‘and make the park'[ADA] accessible to the whole community” with a “limited and reasonable investment”.

Central Street resident Ron Chick pointed out that there are two Simpson parks. Simpson Drive Simpson Park is an “underdeveloped and underutilized parcel” with a “trail and footbridge that descends to the Sudbury River”. On Central Street, he said “there is potential matching funding for an ADA wharf on the Sudbury River” through a local nonprofit.

Chick also updated the CPC on trail initiatives, including designs submitted for the Bruce Freeman and Carol Getchell trails. “The [Saxonville] Levy Trail is between Concord Street and Danforth Street. It would link the Cochituate Rail Trail to the Carole Getchell Trail” and link residents of Natick and Framingham if plans are completed. He also suggested that “there is great potential to link the Chris Walsh Trail to South Framingham by linking the Upper Charles Trail from Milford. […] This may be the right time for the City to reach out to the new owners of the [Adesa] property” to establish trail connections to MCI and the Sudbury Aqueduct.

Resident Mary Memmott “volunteer[s] with a group called Transition Framingham, moving Framingham from fossil fuel dependence to local resilience. She told the committee “we would really like to propose community gardens” and asked for technical assistance on the proposals. CPC Vice President Judith Grove suggested that all applications start with the pre-qualification form and find similar projects in other communities to start with.

Annette Barnett responded to concerns from neighbors in Nobscot about a flood zone near Garden in the Woods. “We’re stuck with this flood damage which is going to get worse and we don’t have the capacity to fix it.” With the completion of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, Barnett believes “it’s the only way [..] the City will be able to acquire this land” and alleviate future problems. The committee indicated that a feasibility study of security improvements could be an appropriate use of CPA funding.

“What I would really like to encourage this whole community to do […] is to think outside the box with these projects,” Pheasant Hill resident Mary Kate Feeney said at the end of the meeting. “How can we not only connect to other communities, but also within our own community? »

“A lot of Framingham isn’t here,” resident Bill Lynch told the CPC, also noting three vacancies on the committee. “The second paragraph of this commission’s charter specifically states that the members of the committee must be residents of Framingham and that the composition of the committee must reflect the demographic and geographic diversity of the city. This does not happen with the limbs we have”

“I urge you to go to the City Council and speak to the Mayor and let them know that you are not going to spend a dollar, not a penny, until Framingham Diversity and Representation makes decisions on how to spend our tax money,” Lynch said.

To watch the full public hearing, click here.

For questions answered or to find more information on how to submit applications, residents can visit the CPC page on the city’s website or contact the committee directly at [email protected]

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Jack Landsiedel is a Framingham resident and a graduate of Stapleton Elementary School, Christa McAuliffe Charter School and Framingham High School (Class of 2020). He is a rising senior at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he is majoring in government and politics with a minor in international development and conflict management. He is looking forward to studying abroad at Queen Mary University of London this fall and exploring neighboring countries. In the future, he hopes to pursue a career in Washington DC involving politics, leadership and sustainability. This summer he is a SOURCE intern covering government and politics.

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