After Boston resoundingly voted yes on Question 5 to approve the Community Preservation Act, the real work will begin as officials look to form a committee to vet proposed projects.
Adopting the CPA allows a city or town to levy a surcharge on property taxes to preserve open space, renovate historic structures or build new athletic fields, among other projects.
Pleased with the outcome, Mayor Marty Walsh said, "I am proud that the residents of Boston have voted to join 161 other cities and towns across the Commonwealth in approving the Community Preservation Act. The CPA will allow us to invest in making our neighborhoods more equitable and beautiful by unlocking tens of millions of dollars each year for affordable housing, while protecting open space and investing in historic preservation projects."
In Boston, almost 74 percent of voters approved the new 1 percent real estate tax surcharge on the net tax owed on a property starting in fiscal 2018.
Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell, one of the proponents of the measure, said, "We advocated and worked hard alongside the coalition members and continue to do so during the implementation process. The ordinance setting up the Community Preservation Committee, project proposal and vetting processes will be before the council shortly, and fund collection for the housing, parks, and historic preservation projects is anticipated to begin next summer, at the start of the 2018 fiscal year."
The Transcript also spoke with CPA advocate Joe Kriesberg, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations, about the landmark decision. Kriesberg oversees the agency's advocacy work with public and private sector entities, its capacity building work with members, its long term strategic planning, its collaborations and partnerships and internal operations.
Were you surprised that the CPA passed by such a wide margin, with 177,174 votes out of 240,584 (or 73.64 percent) cast for the measure?
We were always confident but really did not have a good sense of where we would land since there had not been any polls all year. But judging from the response our hundreds of volunteers received at the polls, we knew it would be a large victory.
Are there any specific projects in the Parkway you think would be good candidates for CPA funds?
That’s really a question for the community to answer by participating in the process going forward and articulating our goals and priorities to the city. We certainly have a lot of parks in the neighborhood – some of which have been renovated recently but others that could use an upgrade. We also have the need for more affordable housing so families can stay in the neighborhood and for seniors who want to move out of their home but stay in the area.
How long do you think it will take to create the Community Preservation Committee and when do you think the city will see the first projects move forward?
We would hope to see the committee formed in the early spring with public hearings to follow. The city does not start collecting any funds until July 1, 2017 so we should not expect to see any projects funded until 2018 by which time the city will have collected enough money to fund an initial set of projects.
What is next in the process?
The mayor and the City Council need to draft and enact an ordinance to create the Community Preservation Committee. This will be followed by actually appointing people to the committee.
Boston had previously rejected the CPA, in 2001, when the question was defeated 57 percent to 43 percent, according to Stuart Saginor, executive director of the Community Preservation Coalition.
Of the 16 cities or towns that had the CPA on their ballots, 11 voted to adopt it, according to the Community Preservation Coalition and the Associated Press. The 11 adoptions surpassed the 10 communities that voted in November 2004 to adopt the CPA, according to the coalition.
In addition to Boston’s decision, Billerica, Chelsea, Holyoke, Hull, Norwood, Pittsfield, Rockland, Springfield, Watertown and Wrentham also voted to adopt the CPA this year.
Reporting by Colin A. Young/State House News Service was used in this story.