CG36500 Boathouse Won’t Get CPA Money In May

by Ryan Bray
The community preservation committee will not recommend preservation funding for the CG36500 boathouse project in May. But committee members supported to pursue of other forms of funding. FILE PHOTO The community preservation committee will not recommend preservation funding for the CG36500 boathouse project in May. But committee members supported to pursue of other forms of funding. FILE PHOTO

ORLEANS – An effort to build a boathouse to secure the aging CG36500 lifesaving vessel will not be funded with community preservation dollars in May. But the door is open for other avenues to help fund the project at the annual town meeting.

The community preservation committee on Feb. 8 voted in support of draft warrant articles for projects it is recommending be funded at the May 13 spring session. But the $250,000 request to help fund the proposed boathouse is not among the projects that will go before voters for approval.

The project, which calls for a new structure connected to the Hurd Chapel to house the 78-year-old vessel, is being pursued by the Centers for Culture and History in Orleans. The nonprofit has stewardship of the boat, famed for its use in the rescue of 32 crew members aboard the tanker Pendleton in February 1952.

The 36500 is on the National Register of Historic Places, but the vessel has become too old to remain situated outdoors year-round. In addition to housing the vessel, the boathouse would act as a museum that would allow members of the public to come in and observe it up close.

The $250,000 was sought to help offset the estimated $3 million to $3.5 million project cost. But the proposed site at 139 Main St. across from town hall is in conflict with plans to potentially build a new Snow Library.

The Snow Library board of trustees is in the process of applying for a grant through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners that, if awarded, could cover as much as 40 percent of the cost of building a new library. While trustees ideally would like to see a new building in the same footprint of the existing library at 67 Main St., a condition of the grant requires that the trustees also choose an alternate location for the project, that being the 139 Main St. parcel.

Members of the community preservation committee expressed their support for the project, but ultimately opted against helping fund it this spring so as not to jeopardize the trustees’ pursuit of the library grant.

“The discussion that we had last week was extraordinarily difficult, and I don’t think it was in any way meant to suggest that we’re not in support of a process that leads ultimately to somehow saving the boat,” committee member Walter North said Feb. 8. “But we had to make choices, and we had to consider different options.”

Through the Community Preservation Act, an annual 3 percent surcharge assessed to residents’ property tax bills goes to support projects in the areas of historic preservation, recreation, open space and affordable housing. The local community preservation committee is charged with deliberating over applications and deciding how the funds are allocated each grant cycle.

But as is typically the case, the requests for funding this spring went above and beyond the approximately $1.3 million the committee had to give out. As such, difficult decisions had to be made, members said. Many projects were funded at lesser amounts than requested on their project applications.

“I thought last year was difficult,” committee member Kevin Galligan said. “This has probably been the most challenging year because of the quality of the requests and the challenges of them.”

The CHO is utilizing a number of funding sources to finance the project apart from community preservation dollars. Those include state and federal grants as well as private donations.

Jay Stradal, who chairs the CHO board of directors, said last week that the CHO is still moving ahead with preparing formal designs for the project. But without a site solidified, the nonprofit can’t begin to fundraise for the effort.

“Obviously we’re disappointed, but we understand the situation,” he said. “I think it could delay us for a little bit, but it’s a temporary delay.”

Stradal said the CHO could reapply for the funding for the next CPC grant cycle in the fall. But some residents Feb. 8 urged the town and the committee to find a way to keep the funding on the table for annual town meeting.

“The time is near at hand where Orleans will either keep or lose this incredible link to our maritime past,” said Bill Amaru.

Amaru said the lifeboat’s “days in the water are numbered,” and the town needs to act quickly to protect it. If the CPC chooses not to fund it this spring, he said another article should be put before voters to fund it in some other capacity.

“Our community, the citizens of Orleans, deserve to decide whether they want to spend their tax dollars to preserve this maritime heritage or not,” he said.

Bill Wibel, a member of the CHO board of directors, also urged the town to act sooner rather than later to help protect the lifeboat.

“Orleans at the moment has a forever friend in the boat,” he said. “Do we want it to be a forever friend to go and visit, or do we want it just to be a memory? Because in the absence of preserving it, it’s going to go away.”

Recognizing the urgency, CPC members threw their support behind pursuing funding this spring outside of the Community Preservation Act.

“I would strongly encourage you to look at that, and I would also as a citizen strongly support moving that forward in any way that I can,” committee member John Lipman said. Galligan agreed, suggesting that a request be made for the select board, of which he is a member, to bring its own article to May town meeting.

The lifeboat project was not the only project to not receive a recommendation for funding at annual town meeting. Another project seeking $4,000 for a historic plaque at the town pump also was not recommended for this cycle.

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Recommended CPA Projects For Annual Town Meeting

Affordable Housing

Affordable housing trust [general funding]: $400,000

Affordable housing trust [rental housing program]: $95,000

Funding for Lower Cape Housing Institute: $10,000.

Spring Rock Village [Affordable housing at Millstone Road, Brewster]: $120,000

Forward at the Rock [Phase 2; Deed restricted housing]: $60,000


Finch Skatepark safety upgrades: $16,300

Senior Center garden walkway: $24,000

Open Space

37 Eli Rogers Road Acquisition: $200,000

Historic Preservation

Northwest Schoolhouse: $52,320

Veteran’s Memorial Park Improvements: $150,000

Academy of Performing Arts [Phase 3 preservation]: $25,000

Early Nauset Project [Phase 2]: $25,000

Comprehensive Historic Properties Documentation: $25,000


FY25 debt service: $344,550

CPC administrative expenses: $30,000