The Community Preservation Committee at its meeting Thursday night opened the process for reviewing the 15 grant applications received for the fiscal year 2025 cycle.
A brief overview of the projects was given to committee members during the public hearing. The CPC voted unanimously to authorize Town Manager Norman Khumalo to contact landowners, seek appraisals and begin negotiations about any land requested for purchase by the town.
Under the Community Preservation Act that was signed in 2000, Massachusetts communities may add a surcharge on top of their local property taxes to fund open space, historic preservation, outdoor recreation and affordable housing projects. At least 10% of CPA funding must be spent on each of these four categories, with the rest available for any category.
One article, sponsored by the Town Manager’s Office, requested an undetermined amount of money to survey Parcel 9 within the town’s 66 Fruit Street property. Weismantel said the parcel is larger than 7 acres. It was purchased 20 years ago after Town Meeting approval and was set aside for new affordable housing, but it was not physically defined by a property survey. As a first step toward the future housing development, the parcel must be surveyed and have boundaries marked.
Vice chair Eric Sonnett explained the history of the land, noting that the CPC paid for “a significant portion of it.” He said the parcel was designed so that affordable housing would be on either side of the road.
Member Dan Terry, the Parks & Recreation Commission liaison, asked if there was any plan to utilize the space, but Weismantel said none exists. He lamented that is has remained dormant for 20 years. Terry also suggested that the entirety of the 66 Fruit Street property be surveyed, noting that it is about 253 acres.
Conservation Commission liaison Jim Ciriello noted that the property allocated for affordable housing needs to be surveyed to ensure that it remains tied to that purpose.
The Hopkinton Area Land Trust jointly requested with the Open Space Preservation Commission $10,210 from the open space fund for the conservation restriction for Rice Woods, also referred to as the Jenner property. It is being discussed for purchase by the town. HALT also requested $10,000 from either the open space or recreation buckets for a conservation restriction on the Hughes property.
The OSPC also requested money for three land purchases for open space. They included land at Mechanic and Wood streets as well as land on Cedar Street and Hill Street. Weismantel noted that the OSPC “did a good job” because it submitted letters from the respective property owners that they are willing to talk with the town about potential purchases.
The Cemetery Commission requested $20,000 for protection of at-risk headstones. Weismantel noted that some headstones have been affected by water damage.
The OSPC joined the Trails Committee on a joint application to purchase two properties owned by Eversource located at and to the south of Berry Acres. This would allow for a future trail connection that would link the apartment complex off Lumber Street with Berry Acres and the school area. Weismantel said Eversource has not yet said if the properties are for sale.
The two groups also jointly filed a request to purchase land owned by MetroWest Holdings near the Milford border. Weismantel questioned whether the town would be able to take the property because of back taxes owed on it, which would negate the need for this request.
Separately, the Trails Committee requested $60,000 from the recreation fund to finish the second phase of the Chamberlain Trail.
The Historical Society requested $140,000 from the historical preservation fund to make repairs to its building in order to preserve historical documents and artifacts. Weismantel suggested that an air conditioning and dehumidification system would be wise investments.
The Hopkinton Public Schools requested $1 million for the construction of an additional playground at the Marathon School, a request that also was made the previous year. HPS Finance Director Susan Rothermich said she would be prepared to make a presentation to the CPC at its Nov. 21 meeting.
Terry spoke about the Parks & Recreation Department’s request for a storage unit at Fruit Street. It would allow ample space for tennis and pickleball equipment as well as for materials needed to maintain the dog park. Weismantel said he met with Parks & Rec Director Jon Lewitus earlier in the day to discuss the request.
The Hopkinton Scout Leaders Association requested $10,000 for historical signs. Weismantel said he is seeking the advice of town counsel and a CPA representative on the request. The Historic Commission may be a better entity to pursue historic signage, he said.
The next meeting will be held Nov. 9.