What We Do
Town of Scituate Community Preservation Project Sign
The Community Preservation Act (the CPA or the Act) was adopted by Scituate voters in 2002. As adopted by the voters, a 3% CPA surcharge is assessed on all real property tax bills with certain exemptions. CPA funds collected under the surcharge MAY ONLY be expended for allowed purposes under the Act. Generally the allowed purposes are the acquisition, preservation, restoration or creation of open space, historical purposes, land for recreational purposes and community housing. The CPA restricts CPA funds so that at least 30% of CPA revenues must be expended for open space, historical purposes, and community housing, 10% for each category. Up to 5% of total CPA revenues annually may be expended for administrative expenses, with any unexpended balance returned to the CPA’s unreserved fund balance and not carried over for administrative purposes. The remaining 65% of CPA funds may be expended as additional funds within those 3 categories and for certain allowed recreational purposes. CPA funds may not be used to pay normal Town operating expenses or for any purposes not specifically allowed under the Act.

Under the Act, a Community Preservation Committee (the Committee or CPC) has been established to make recommendations to the residents of the Town of Scituate for the use of the CPA funds. The 9-member Committee is appointed by the Selectmen and is made up of 4 at-large members and 5 Town board members (Planning Board, Conservation Commission, Housing Authority, Recreation Commission and Historical Commission). Under the CPA, the Committee makes recommendations for expenditure of CPA funds to Town Meeting for approval. The Committee sponsors all CPA-funded Town Meeting articles. Successful CPA initiatives require a positive recommendation from the Committee as well as a favorable vote of Town Meeting. The CPC is not a committee with a project budget or any ultimate authority to approve the funding of CPA recommended projects, nor does any other Town Board have authority to authorize spending CPA project funds. The CPC’s function is to recommend to the voters at Town Meeting, the projects that it finds both qualify for CPA funding under the Act and meet CPA goals, while balancing the needs or values of projects competing for CPA funding. Voters at Town Meeting the final and ultimate authority on each and every project, and are free to vote yes or no on each and every project. CPA funds cannot be committed to or used for a project without Town Meeting approval, so the voters ultimately control CPA funds and how they are spent, or not, on each and every project.

Since the Annual Town Meeting of March 2003, the voters have approved numerous projects recommended by the Committee. Most recently, in the category of Open Space and Recreation, funds were approved at the 2010 Annual Town meeting for a major acquisition of approximately 57 acres. Since that vote, the CPC has received notification from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs that its grant application for these (Wheelwright & Bjorklund) property acquisitions has been selected to receive state funding of up to $500,000 in state Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) Grant Program Assistance. This grant will significantly reduce the cost of this acquisition to the Town, and even further leverages Scituate’s CPA funds. As a result, the purchasing power of CPA in Scituate is further enhanced and the CPA in Scituate is able to pursue more important other projects in the future. These acquisitions will also complement prior land acquisitions by the Town using CPA funds totaling approximately 250 acres in this conservation area. This total conservation area protects and preserves various environmental and passive recreation values, including water resource areas, species habitat, and the Carl Pipes walking trail. The Scituate CPC encourages citizens to visit and access this area for their passive recreational use.

As a major event in the historical category, funds were approved for acquisition of the Bates House, located at 6 Jericho Road with breathtaking views of Scituate Harbor. This charming property is believed to have been constructed between 1665 and 1696, and there is a pending application nominating it to the National Register of Historic Places. The property is most well-known for its linkage to the story of the Bates sisters, “An American Army of Two,” according to which, during the war of 1812, the Bates sisters successfully repelled several landing boats full of British soldiers by concealing themselves and playing Yankee Doodle on a fife and drum, allegedly leading the soldiers to believe opposing forces awaited their landing. This acquisition will permanently preserve this historic property for future generations to enjoy and view.

Additional CPA funds were also set aside for other projects approved at Town Meeting, for community housing, and significant fund balances exist for future projects and allowed purposes.

Through Fiscal 2008, the Town had received 100% matching funds from the State. Due to increased participation in CPA by other towns and declining state revenues committed to funding the State’s match of CPA funds, in fiscal 2010, the State matched was reduced to approximately 30% of funds raised by the Town CPA surcharge. As a community adopting the maximum 3% surcharge, the Town of Scituate receives the maximum amount that can be recovered from the State in the form of matching funds. The Town has received more than 5 million dollars in matching funds from the State to date. Towns adopting lesser surcharge rates do not qualify for participation in all rounds of matching funds from the State and will likely not receive funding equal to the level of the matching funds provided to the Town of Scituate. Although not adopted or in any way guaranteed to be adopted, legislation is proposed and pending (SB 90, An Act to Sustain Community Preservation) that if adopted, would stabilize the annual CPA match for CPA communities by guaranteeing a minimum of a 75% match each year, in addition to providing increased flexibility to the CPC in funding recreational projects.

The Committee wishes to thank all of the Town Boards and members who serve on and participate in the CPA process by providing their time and their input regarding proposed CPA projects. The well thought-out evaluations of proposed projects provided by the Town Boards in the various project areas are an invaluable tool used by the members of the CPC in their decision-making process.

Last but not at all least; the Committee extends its sincere thanks to the voters and taxpayers of the Town of Scituate for their unwavering support of CPA over the years, especially in these challenging economic times. The Committee looks forward to continuing its mission to protect and preserve our open space and valuable resources on your behalf in the upcoming year.

Respectfully submitted,
John G. Bulman, Chairman