By Keith Regan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – The first phase of a $700,000 plan to create a town common on West Main Street tops the list of seven Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding requests that voters will decide at next month’s Town Meeting.
Community Preservation Chairman John Campbell said after the committee put out a call for more projects to inject new life in the town’s use of the CPA, it saw its most active year in the 11 years since the town adopted the 1.5 percent property tax surcharge.
“We have had more citizens than ever involved in the CPA in Northborough,” Campbell told the Board of Selectmen at its March 14 meeting. “It has been very rewarding, but also a little challenging at times.”
One of the major reasons for the infusion of new interest in the CPA has been the common project, which has evolved and matured quickly over the past year and is now ready to seek its first round of funding.
This year, voters will be asked to spend $480,000 in CPA funds on the project.
The largest portion, $350,000, would be used to purchase a parcel of land at 45 West Main St. An additional $100,000 would be used to demolish the building that now sits on 39 West Main St., a parcel the town acquired through a tax taking. An additional $20,000 would be used for designing the final plans for the common. Next year, additional funds will be sought to complete the park work itself.
The common project faced resistance from some who wanted the town to put the property at 39 West Main back into private hands for taxable commercial use, Campbell said. But the ad hoc Town Common Committee effectively answered all questions put to it during the CPA review process.
“I feel good about the process,” Campbell said. “Some people had other ideas but each time the common group came back with even stronger reasons and arguments. They obviously have tremendous community support and that is something we want to see. We think it will go a long way toward beautifying downtown.”
The new park would include pathways and planting and a new memorial that will link with existing memorials on an adjacent parcel.
Selectman William Pantazis, who served on the ad hoc committee, said the project has been thoroughly vetted since it was first proposed.
“It’s truly a grass roots project,” he said.
Other projects Town Meeting voters will be asked to fund include $54,000 for restoration work at the First Parish Church, which Campbell called “an iconic place in town,” and an additional $100,000 to be set aside for work being done by the Northborough Affordable Housing Corporation.
Funds will also be sought for a signage project highlighting historical assets, including one that will honor the late Mark Fidrych, a former professional baseball player who died in 2009 in an accident at his home.
Campbell also announced that the town has now received a total of $2 million in matching funds from the state since it adopted the CPA 11 years ago.