Multiple towns across Wildlands Trust’s coverage area, including many we actively partner with on Community Preservation Act (CPA) open space projects, recently received notification of the distributions they would receive this fiscal year from the CPA Trust Fund. Established as part of the CPA’s enabling legislation in 2000, the Trust Fund provides for annual distributions to communities that have passed the CPA, and is funded by a surcharge levied on transactions at Registries of Deeds across the Commonwealth. Although the percentage of matching funds varies from year to year, the matching funds are critical to complementing the funds each CPA community raises locally.
Within the region Wildlands serves, our hometown Plymouth led the way, receiving $389,552 in matching funds.
The CPA has been the most significant catalyst for locally-driven open space protection in the Commonwealth’s history, and has enabled communities to pursue a wide range of projects that would otherwise have not materialized. A classic example of such projects we often cite is the Center Hill Preserve project in Plymouth. Back in 2005-06, the Town acquired 78 acres, including 28 acres on Cape Cod Bay, at an initial cost of $5.7 million—but subsequently leveraged over $3 million in federal and state funds. And there’s more--with the 1:1 Trust Fund match then prevailing, the Town’s net cost of the Center Hill Project was under $2 Million. Leveraging of this scale isn’t always feasible, but similar if less expensive examples abound of communities successfully using CPA funds to help leverage outside funds.
One could argue that a working definition of a livable community is one that invests in all of its critical infrastructure, and not just “traditional” infrastructure (roads and bridges, utilities). While traditional infrastructure is undeniably important and worthy of investment, the CPA focuses in part on our ecological and historical infrastructure—both often underfunded and even neglected before the advent of the Act.
Congratulations to Plymouth and all the CPA communities in our region for adopting the Act, and working diligently to successfully implement its multiple community preservation dimensions.