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Funds for Recreation Facilities Don't Necessarily Include Repairs

Playground repairs are not covered under the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act (CPA), unless the playground was originally built with CPA funds.


The Massachusetts Community Preservation Act (CPA) was signed by Governor Cellucci in September 2000. It is an economic tool that offers matching state funds for those communities that impose property-tax surcharges to support local affordable housing, recreation, open space, and historical preservation efforts. Approximately 140 communities in the state have signed on for the program.

The law, which was misinterpreted by some, does not provide monies to upgrade or repair recreational facilities that were built without community preservation (CP) funding. Two years ago when Newton, Mass. used three quarters of a million dollars in CP funds for recreation improvement projects at two parks, a lawsuit was brought by 10 local taxpayers challenging the city's appropriation.

The court found in favor of the taxpayer group. The case then went to the state Supreme Court. On Oct. 24, 2008, the court upheld the lower court ruling.

So while some communities are preparing to build new recreation facilities, other communities need funding to repair theirs. A group called the Community Preservation Coalition seeks to broader the interpretation of the law. State Senator Cynthia Creem, a Newton Democrat, introduced a bill to amend the CPA to allow improvements to existing recreational spaces. The bill, which is in the House Ways and Means Committee, is not expected to advance this legislative session and would have to be refiled next year.

On another front, the amount of "matching" community preservation state funds are falling. The Cambridge, Mass. City Council planned on $10.9 million in CP projects for fiscal 2009, and anticipated the state would ante $3.9 million. The "matching" state funds were just reduced to $2.1 million.

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December 14, 2019, 8:37 am PDT

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