One of the strengths of the Community Preservation Act is how it creates opportunities for successful partnerships and acts as a catalyst for leveraging new funding. A great example of how these actions can come together and form a successful project can be found in the Town of Wareham, where three non-profits working with their local community preservation committee preserved 8 acres of land along the Weweantic River, opened up access to the river for recreation, and provided new homes for previously homeless individuals.
The project was spearheaded by the Wareham Land Trust, Father Bill’s & MainSpring (FBMS), and the Buzzards Bay Coalition who all collaborated to purchase the property in West Wareham. The Town of Wareham’s CPC approved of $635,000 in CPA funding for the project, and additional funding was provided through a $75,000 Mass Housing grant and a $35,000 grant from the Buzzards Bay Watershed Municipal mini grant program.
“The project is an outstanding economic value and a unique opportunity for the Town’s CPC to address two of its missions – affordable housing and open space’, said Nicole Fitzgerald, the vice president of asset management for FBMS. FBMS will maintain and manage the building on the property, which will provide apartments to accommodate up to six Wareham individuals in dire need of housing
The acquisition will also permanently conserve 1,300 feet of riparian habitat along the Weweantic River. This area is also identified as Natural Heritage Critical Habitat and is identified as a priority for protection in the Wareham Open Space and Recreation Plan.
Brendan Annett, Vice President of Watershed Protection for the Buzzards Bay Coalition, the largest land conservation organization in Southeastern Massachusetts, spoke very highly of the project. “With the acquisition of this parcel we are able to expand a green corridor along the riverfront. To protect the quality of our waterways and bays you must protect the land surrounding it."
The property was formerly a cranberry farm and has significant frontage along the Weweantic River, the largest tributary onto Buzzards Bay. The property also includes a trail system, which will connect to the existing Westgate Conservation Area and provide opportunities to access the river for recreation.
According to Annett, the project came together when they looked for a partner for the housing component and were referred to the staff at Father Bill’s and Mainspring. The open space porition will be owned by the town and the Wareham Land Trust will hold a conservation restriction on it. Meanwhile, the building will be owned by Father Bill’s and MainSpring and will be designated as permanent affordable housing.
"This is a big win for the Town, the Bay, and the housing advocates," Annet went on to say. "I wish we could have more like them.”