WEST NEWBURY — A plan to build a boardwalk and bridge along the 129-acre Riverbend Trail network behind Page Elementary School is one step closer to becoming a reality.
The project, proposed by the Open Space Committee, cleared an all-important hurdle when it received support last week from the Community Preservation Act Committee, the panel that oversees use of the town’s CPA account. The application seeks $40,100 in CPA funds for the project with an additional $3,720 to install crushed stone on portions of the Myopia and Riverbend Trails to be funded privately.
That’s particularly good news for Page School sixth-graders who tapped the site near the Indian River as a backyard resource this year in order to participate in a place-based learning program sponsored by the National Parks Service. The sixth-grade teaching team reports that the program was so successful they plan to expand it next year.
As part of the funding process for use of CPA money, the CPC must first deem a project qualified, and then approve an application for use of the money before the request can be brought to a final vote at Town Meeting. Selectmen had OK’d inclusion of the OSC request on a warrant for a Special Town Meeting that is typically held in conjunction with the Annual Town Meeting each April, but their approval was contingent upon CPC approval.
Communities that adopt the CPA are able to raise funds through a tax surcharge dedicated for open space preservation, preservation of historic resources, development of affordable housing and the acquisition and development of outdoor recreational facilities. In this case, the OSC request was deemed eligible for use of open space and recreation funds or historical preservation money, since the site on which the school is located was deemed to have unique historical significance to the town by the Historical Commission. An application for $14,500 to repair the Mill Pond Recreation Building’s roof was approved by the CPC for the same reasons.