Now that half of all cities and towns in the Commonwealth have adopted CPA, even if a community hasn't adopted the program, it's become difficult to ignore the surrounding neighborhoods working on such great projects year after year. And despite the struggles that the CPA State Match is experiencing, there are conversations happening already this year about whether CPA adoption is a worthwhile investment.
The town of Burlington has been mulling over the idea of CPA adoption since 2018, with neighbors like Waltham and Lexington that have had the program for over a decade, as well as towns like Billerica and Arlington that have adopted in recent years. Spearheaded by their Conservation Commission, the town has held several public meetings to discuss the benefits of CPA, as well as local projects that could be funded, including bike trails, dog parks, softball fields, and affordable housing. After the idea of adoption was presented to the Board of Selectmen in 2018, they recommended the the Commission continue promoting and educating residents on CPA to gauge whether or not to pursue an adoption campaign.
The city of Framingham declined to adopt CPA at the ballot back in 2001 when the program first began (back when Framingham operated under a town government), but it may be time to try again. There has been a groundswell of local support building among community groups over the last year, but now Framingham city council is suggesting that CPA adoption be officially pursued. According to the MetroWest Daily News, local officials have resisted CPA efforts in the past, but the current city council just passed a proposal to draft a CPA adoption ballot question. Seeing their neighbors like Wayland, Sudbury, and Ashland all utilize CPA funds for the last 15 years has made some in the city feel as though not adopting CPA may have been a missed opportunity -- and that adopting late may be a better alternative to never adopting at all.
Meanwhile, selectmen in Millbury, located just south of Worcester, are debating the very same issue. While the town has never officially voted on adoption in the past, there are still a few neighbors in the area, such as the town of Grafton, that adopted CPA early on and have benefited since. The Worcester Telegram reports that in the past, the town's selectmen turned away the prospect of CPA as an "unnecessary tax." But this year, CPA adoption was a recommendation of the town master plan, and the Board of Selectmen voted to appoint a Community Preservation Advisory Ad Hoc Committee to consider an adoption approach. After Worcester nearly placed the question on the ballot last year, the conversations sparked by those debates may have allowed surrounding towns to see the value in the dedicated revenue source.
While the struggles revolving around the state of the CPA Trust Fund are certainly a concern to both current and prospective CPA communities, it's clear that the success of the program thus far has proven to still be tempting. Should the legislation to increase the revenue source of the Trust Fund pass this year, we expect to see even more communities rally their local advocates in new adoption efforts.