CPA Recreation Projects: How to implement the new legislation

October 25th, 2012: As we know, legislation was signed into law this summer that allows communities to rehabilitate existing parks, playgrounds and athletic fields using CPA funds. There is a process that all Community Preservation Committees (CPC) should follow as they begin to use the provisions of the new law.
 
Every CPC is required to prepare a Community Preservation Plan when they adopt the Act, and update the plan each year. This requirement is contained in Section 5 (b)1 of the legislation and the Department of Revenue guidance document on CPA, the text of which can be found below.
 
There is one important task that each CPC should accomplish with this year's Community Preservation Plan, and that is to study the needs of the town with regards to rehabilitating parks, playgrounds and athletic fields. Since this wasn't an allowed CPA use until now, this is an issue that hasn't been studied by your CPC. Ideally the study should take place prior to considering any CPA projects to rehabilitate existing recreational assets. The town of Norwell used CPA funds to hire a consulting firm to do a study of their recreational needs, and the CPC will use this plan to guide their future project decisions.
 
After the legislation passed this summer, many CPCs immediately began the process of researching the needs of their community regarding recreation. What types of activities should be conducted? Requesting a condition report on all the parks, playgrounds and athletic fields in town from the town recreation department, recreation committee or local athletic booster club would be a good place to start. Reviewing the town's open space plan, talking to recreation advocates and other boards, reviewing the text of the new CPA legislation and holding the required annual public hearing are other activities that should be undertaken.
 
After taking the time to study the issue, the CPC would be fully informed and ready to accept and review recreational proposals. Some CPCs are targeting 2013 as the start date for accepting recreation applications, to give the CPC time to complete the above process. 

Department of Revenue Guidance on Community Preservation Plans
(extracted from page 24 of IGR 00_209 (amended version) published by DOR)

Community Preservation Committee: Annual Needs Study

The committee must study the community preservation needs, possibilities and resources of the city or town consulting with various municipal agencies, particularly those represented on the committee. It should then develop a community preservation program and financial plan for the city or town. The program should identify long term and short term goals and needs, set criteria for evaluating proposed acquisitions and initiatives, prioritize projects and estimate their costs. The financial plan should include a multi-year revenue and expenditure forecast and identify the fund or other municipal financing source for each proposed project. The program and financial plan should be reviewed and updated annually to reflect changes in the community's needs, priorities and resources.

The committee must hold at least one public informational hearing as part of the initial study and annual review process. Notice of the annual hearing must be posted at least two weeks before the hearing date. In addition, the committee must publish a hearing notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the community for each of the two weeks before the hearing date.