Community Preservation Act

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The Community Preservation Act (CPA) is a special City fund that is used for capital improvement projects related to open space/recreation, and historic preservation, and for projects that help to create or support affordable housing.

The Community Preservation Committee oversees a grant program through which CPA funds are distributed to organizations and City departments for open space/recreation and historic preservation projects, while the Somerville Affordable Housing Trust distributes the funds set aside for affordable housing.

Each year the Community Preservation Committee solicits public input to identify community needs and priorities for how the funds should be spent. Please share your ideas for ways to improve your neighborhood.

The Community Preservation Act (CPA) is a special City fund that is used for capital improvement projects related to open space/recreation, and historic preservation, and for projects that help to create or support affordable housing.

The Community Preservation Committee oversees a grant program through which CPA funds are distributed to organizations and City departments for open space/recreation and historic preservation projects, while the Somerville Affordable Housing Trust distributes the funds set aside for affordable housing.

Each year the Community Preservation Committee solicits public input to identify community needs and priorities for how the funds should be spent. Please share your ideas for ways to improve your neighborhood.

  • Remind me, what is CPA?

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    See the Video made by Somerville teens to learn more about the Community Preservation Act in Somerville.

  • How does Historic Preservation help Somerville's vulnerable populations?

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    The Elizabeth Peabody House (EPH) supports families in the community through early childhood education, youth enrichment and development, and family services. Services include a nationally-accredited preschool, afterschool enrichment program, emergency food pantry. Families of EPH students hail from places like Haiti, El Salvador, and Brazil.

    Founded in 1896 in the West End of Boston, EPH has been based in Somerville since the 1950s. Since 1979 EPH has occupied the former Broadway Methodist Episcopal Church, built in 1882, from which it operates its programs. EPH's historic landmark building located on Broadway in Winter Hill requires significant investment to preserve and restore the structure and to ensure that it is safe and accessible for community use.

    Over four separate grants, the CPC has awarded a total of $163,000 to date for projects that help to keep the building operable. These have included urgent structural and safety improvements such as replacement of the roof and installation of an addressable fire alarm system. A CPA-funded building condition assessment in 2019 identified additional repairs and structural improvements needed to bring the building up to date. Following the findings of this assessment, the CPC awarded funds in FY22 for engineering and design to structurally reinforce the second floor so that the space can be used again for programming.

    In its testimony at the CPC's annual public hearing, the Community Action Agency of Somerville identified childcare as a critical community need.

  • CPA Impact - Building a More Accessible Community

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    As a community that is fully built out, the major focus of CPA projects in Somerville has been the preservation and rehabilitation of historic buildings and existing parks. Several of the largest and most important projects completed to date have focused on expanding the accessibility of public gathering spaces for people with disabilities or mobility limitations. For instance, CPA funds have been used to build elevators at the West Branch Library and Somerville Museum, and to create accessible paths and seating at the Somerville Growing Center. In the most recent funding round, CPA funds were awarded to the Somerville Hispanic Association to begin the first phase of making its 130 year old building, the former Grace Baptist Church, fully handicapped accessible, ensuring that people of all ages and abilities can participate in the social services the organization provides.

    When people think about Historic Preservation, elevators may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, handicapped accessibility is critically important to preserving Somerville’s historic fabric by enabling the buildings to be actively used and continually cared for. The Americans with Disabilities Act and Massachusetts state law requires that all programs and facilities be accessible to people with disabilities, and that existing buildings be made fully handicapped accessible when improvements are made that exceed 30% of the value of the building. It is very easy to trigger this threshold when preserving the exterior envelope of historic buildings (i.e., repairing roofs, windows, masonry, etc.,) or investing in upgrades to building security, mechanical systems, or to repair and prevent flood damage. Besides complying with the law, improvements to accessibility will make public spaces safer and more comfortable for all users, as well as providing basic civil rights for people with mobility limitations.

    Accessibility improvements enable historic buildings to be living assets that meet community needs today and for generations to come. With limited space for new development across Somerville, CPA funds provide an opportunity to make the best use of the community spaces we have.

Page last updated: 25 Jun 2022, 09:05 PM