One of the unique things about Newburyport’s application of the Community Preservation Act is the desire to spread the taxpayer’s money over the entire community and not to just city-owned property. Yes, City Hall had its exterior restored and many a public city-owned park and trail has benefited; but we’ve also seen churches, cemeteries and non-profits receive the funds. They had to guarantee public access in some varying degree and they had to put preservation easements on their properties to ensure they are historically preserved.
This is not common in other towns – private entities are not usually invited and the money ends up being solely in control of the municipal government.
Unfortunately, with such generosity; there are always abuses and sadly one organization took the money, fixed their private property and now are refusing to put a preservation easement on their building!
I’m talking about the Masonic Lodge – they ‘took’ our city-money, fixed their roof that was badly in need of repairs, and when it came to do the preservation easement – they have flatly refused to do it.
One, the hypocrisy! One of their spokespersons has loudly criticized the CPA program and actively worked to get it’s tax levy reduced. The citizens were smart enough to rebuff that misguided effort on a past election day. Talk about conflict of interest. And, of course, two, they are refusing to meet their condition for the funds.
The right thing is for them to return the money – we’ll probably be stiffed for the interest while it was in their possession but at least we’d have it for someone who actually appreciates the community program.
The taxpayers are not your personal piggybank!
PS. And that should go for any organization that feels it is ‘put out’ by the requirements of the CPA. That we have such a vital program came by the good graces and the vision of the beleaguered taxpayer who would appreciate a little ‘Thank You’ now and then!