Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

Town Meeting, May 15, 2024

Article 50: Community Preservation Act Committee (CPA) Recommendations

The CPA committee is seeking Town Meeting’s approval for various projects funded by the Community Preservation Act, which comprises three main areas: community housing, historic preservation, and open space and recreation.

Community Housing

  • Special Needs Housing by AHA: A standalone building for citizens with special needs, acting as seed money for the project.
  • 10 Sunnyside: Additional funds for construction of housing in East Arlington.
  • Housing Corporation of Arlington: Supporting their homeless prevention program.
  • Somerville Homeless Coalition: Funds to assist in paying rent differential for tenants in need.
  • Shea House Roof Repair: Funds for maintenance of a property owned by the Salvation Army.

Historic Preservation

  • Digitization of Arlington’s Marriage Records: Preserving decaying records.
  • Memorial Garden Renovation: Near completion of restoration of an Olmsted Brothers design.
  • Foot at the Rocks Battlefield Memorial: Funding a memorial at the site of a critical Revolutionary War battle.

Open Space and Recreation

  • McLennan Detention Bond Survey: Investigating retention ponds for improvements.
  • Public Land Management Addendum: Expanding on a previous CPA project focusing on public land.
  • Minuteman Bikeway Design at Rider Street: Design plans to investigate feasibility due to MBTA ownership complexities, moving towards a zero-waste event.
  • Crosby Park Renovation: Controversial due to neighborhood concerns, yet funded for planning phase.
  • Menotomy Rocks Park Playground and Picnic Area: Updating an aging community playground.

The committee summarizes the financial appropriations across the different projects, stressing these investments’ importance for the town’s sustainability and heritage. There is debate over the “Foot at the Rocks” project concerning its necessity and potential alternatives that could serve for historical commemoration.

Article 53: Safe Routes to School Program

The Select Board is seeking authorization to acquire land parcels or rights in land parcels to secure a public right of way around the Stratton School, focusing on pedestrian safety for children. John Alessi, Senior Transportation Planner, presents the need for this due to a grant received from the Mass Safe Routes to School Infrastructure grant program. The project will improve sidewalks, crossings and install flashing beacons in critical areas. Town Meeting approval is required as the town’s financial responsibility encompasses the right of way acquisition only.

Next Steps After Approval

  • Finalization of design.
  • Notifications and individual meetings with affected property owners.
  • Hiring of an independent appraiser to value property impacts.
  • Presenting the final acquisition plan to Select Board.
  • Offering compensation to property owners.
  • Projected construction start in Summer 2025.

Leonard Diggins offers an amendment to the language of the article for clarification at the request of MassDOT. Follow-up questions are raised regarding the impact on existing street trees and the details about the properties affected by these changes. Concerns about premature authorization without detailed cost and impact assessments are voiced, emphasizing the importance of fairness and transparency in the acquisition process.


After a motion to terminate debate, Town Meeting votes on the Pretzer amendment to remove funding for the “Foot at the Rocks” project, which fails. The main motion then passes, authorizing funding for the CPA projects, including the contentious “Foot at the Rocks” project.

For Article 53, the Diggins amendment to specify the type of land acquisitions passes. The main motion, as amended, to allow the Select Board to acquire land for the Stratton School’s safe routes initiative also passes with the required two-thirds majority. Town Meeting is subsequently adjourned until the next scheduled session.



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