Town Fences Funding Raises Questions At Falmouth CPC

Parks superintendent Edwin (Rocky) P. Gomes and recreation director Helen E. Kennedy presented three applications for CPC funding at the July 24 meeting.CARRIE GENTILE/ENTERPRISE - Parks superintendent Edwin (Rocky) P. Gomes and recreation director Helen E. Kennedy presented three applications for CPC funding at the July 24 meeting.

Who should pay for replacing fences around town and school ball fields became topic of discussion at the July 24 Falmouth Community Preservation Committee meeting.

Parks superintendent Edwin (Rocky) P. Gomes and recreation director Helen E. Kennedy told Falmouth Community Preservation Committee that much of the galvanized fencing surrounding town schools and ball fields needs replacing, and in some areas, it is hazardous. Mr. Gomes is applying for $300,000 in CPA funds to replace much of the fencing with a more expensive vinyl version, which he said would far outlast a galvanized fence.

Mr. Gomes and Ms. Kennedy explained that in many places, fencing has rusted and curled up on the bottom, and children have snagged themselves on it.

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“It would be nice to be able to better maintain it, but I haven’t had the money. The town has repaired and patched when needed,” he said.
Committee member Ralph E. Herbst, who at the end of the meeting was elected chairman, asked Mr. Gomes why the project is not on the town’s seven-year recreation capital improvement plan. He said the seven-year capital plan spreadsheet was developed two years ago with software paid for by the town and CPC. It is used to rate the condition of each town-owned recreation facility, and to prioritize and assign fiscal years to fund projects between $25,000 and $1 million. 

“All of the recreation facilities were supposed to be evaluated and prioritized on this sheet. I am trying to understand why this $300,000 project is not on the list,” he said.

Committee member Sandra L. Cuny said that is a question for assistant town manager Heather Harper.

“The recreation committee has toured the field and we have documented the state they’re in. We have sent this documentation to the DPW, selectmen and Heather Harper,” she said. Ms. Cuny is also a member of the town’s recreation committee.

Ms. Kennedy said she has tried to get items on that capital plan.

“The recreation department hasn’t gotten any of the improvement items we’ve requested,” she said.

Mr. Gomes echoed her statement, stating he is 10 years behind on his capital plan.

“There’s no funding. I am getting nothing done,” he said.

Outgoing chairman Patti B. Haney warned Mr. Gomes that the CPC is “not supposed to be supplanting items on a capital budget.”

Mr. Herbst also suggested looking to the school committee to help pay for fencing.

“Frankly, they’re on the hook for some of this money when you’re talking about children’s safety on school property. If they were aware of the issues, I’d think they would be ready to pony up some money,” he said.

Mr. Gomes said he approached the committee a few years ago, but has not reached out to them recently.

Mr. Gomes presented the next application as well, to replace the crumbling Village Green fence at a cost of $100,000. His plan is to use the same black locust wood that was used when the fence was built in the 1950s.

“I’m hoping to get 30 to 50 years out of it,” he said. He wants to save two original posts from 1956 and replace all the rest that was constructed in 1994. The fence did not last as long as it should have, he said, because it has not been properly maintained and he assured the CPC the new fence would be maintained as it should.

The CPC heard details of three other possible projects, $55,000 for a Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod home to be built in Falmouth, $7,000 for mold remediation of Woods Hole Library, and $186,000 to replace a town-owned tennis court in West Falmouth.

The CPC meets next week to hear from the final three applicants before they start deliberating on how to spend $1 million.

Lastly, the committee voted Virginia Carmichael into two executive positions as vice chairman and clerk, and Ralph Herbst will be replacing Ms. Haney as chairman.

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