CPC to discuss reconsideration of North Pond funding

The CPC’s vote didn’t go in favor of the Franklin Land Trust’s request for an additional $500,000 at the meeting on January 31. (WNG File Photo)

SOUTHWICK – The Community Preservation Committee (CPC) is holding a meeting on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the Southwick Town Hall to have another discussion about the request for additional funding to preserve undeveloped land adjacent to Congamond’s North Pond.

On January 31 the CPC voted 4-4 on a motion to accept the application request from the Franklin Land Trust to have the CPC provide an additional $500,000 from their account to help preserve the open space next to North Pond. Since the result of the vote was a tie, the motion did not pass.

Chris Pratt, Vice Chairperson of the CPC, is one of the members who voted in favor of the additional funding and hopes that one of the four members who opposed the motion can be convinced to change their mind.

“We’re always hopeful of people seeing things in a different light and reconsidering,” said Pratt.

The reason for the meeting occurring on Wednesday is due to the Select Board reaching out to the CPC to ask them to consider having another meeting to discuss the additional funding. At the Select Board meeting on February 5, the Citizens Restoring Congamond (CRC), the Franklin Land Trust, and fellow North Pond supporters voiced their support for the project. Their dissatisfaction of the CPC vote caused the Select Board to approach the CPC.

In October, the Franklin Land Trust, the prospective purchaser of the North Pond property, first applied for the additional funding of $500,000 but the CPC didn’t vote on it until January 31.

The CPC has already allocated $1 million to help preserve the North Pond property when it was passed in a warrant article at the annual town meeting in May of 2017.

Having the CPC reconsider the motion and vote in favor of the funding is crucial as the state has informed the involved parties that their deadline to raise $5 million in preservation funding is March 1.

Previously, the owner of the property, Denise LeClair-Robbins, gave the Franklin Land Trust a June 30 deadline to raise the money, but the state wants to see if the money raised is close to the $5 million to determine if state money will be provided.

The Franklin Land Trust has noted that if the state doesn’t think it’s possible that they get close to the $5 million, they could take away the $1.4 million that they’ve agreed to and won’t provide any additional funding.

If the CPC votes in favor of the $500,000 of additional funding, ta warrant article will be drafted and presented at a special town meeting in March to see if voting residents will pass the funding.

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