The Falmouth Community Preservation Committee rejected funding studies examining The Dome at Woods Hole at its November 29 meeting.
The board of directors for The Dome at Woods Hole requested $125,000 to help fund a historic structures report and a structural analysis study. Committee member Sandra L. Cuny said these studies would be beneficial to the Town of Falmouth, as they would identify whether it was feasible to restore The Dome, which was built in 1953 by the late Buckminster Fuller.
However, the board of directors lacks site control.
“I’m not comfortable funding this unless they have site control,” committee member John L. Druley said.
Ms. Cuny agreed, as site control is a criteria for community preservation funding. While the board of directors is attempting to secure site control via a 99-year-lease, no lease is in place at this time.
Mr. Druley also asked what would happen if they funded the study, only for the study to reveal the building cannot be restored. Ms. Cuny suggested there would be a benefit in knowing whether the dome could be restored or not. Mr. Druley did not think the town should fund such a study.
“This is taxpayer money, and I have a real concern with that,” Mr. Druley said. “I would rather they fund their own feasibility study and then come back for money after.”
Committee member Paul C. Glynn questioned a statement made by the applicants, architects Robert Mohr and David Fixler, during the project interview. They indicated that if these studies were funded, they could raise $8 million to $10 million for the necessary repairs.
“It doesn’t make sense how they can’t come up with $125,000 now but can get $10 million later,” Mr. Glynn said.
Committee member Holly Wilson advocated for funding the project using estimated Fiscal Year 2020 revenues.
“I think it would be amazing if this could become something,” Ms. Wilson said. “It is a very unique piece of Falmouth history.”
However, her motion to fund the project failed by a vote of 1-5-1. She was the sole vote in favor. Committee member L. Nicole Goldman abstained, due to her role as chairman of the board of directors for The Dome at Woods Hole.
The committee also questioned funding a $400,000 request for a community playground and inclusive play space at the Emerald House property on Davisville Road in East Falmouth. The committee supported the idea of the project but did not believe it was ready to go to Town Meeting for funding.
Administrative clerk Carole Sutherland said the project is relying on donations and volunteer work. While applicant Kathleen J. Haynes had identified potential donors, she does not have any donations yet, as the project does not have 501(c)(3) status. Ms. Sutherland questioned if the project would be ready for its projected June 2019 start date.
Ms. Cuny said Ms. Haynes and Recreation Director Joseph E. Olenick need to meet with the town Department of Public Works regarding this project.
She suggested Town Meeting members would want to see a conceptual design prior to funding the project. However, she noted that when she asked Ms. Haynes if the project could be done in phases, starting with funding for that conceptual design, she told the committee it could not.
“It’s like she wants all $400,000 or nothing for an $800,000 project that is, to me, not ready,” Ms. Cuny said. “The project, to me, is a good project. It will, someday, be a good project, but I don’t believe that, between now and April, it will be ready.”
Ms. Goldman asked if the committee could once again ask Ms. Haynes if she would consider a smaller amount to fund the conceptual design of an inclusive playground.
The committee agreed to do this, and placed a $100,000 placeholder figure to fund design.
“Everybody knows it is a good project and nobody wants to say no to something like this, because it would be very unique to Falmouth, and certainly beneficial for a lot of people, but we just want it done right,” Ms. Cuny said. “I think everybody knows she is on the right track; she just needs a little more time. I think [Ms. Goldman’s] suggestion is a good one, and we can offer that, and if not, maybe she can come back next year and things will be better.”
The committee voted preliminary support for six community preservation funding requests. The committee unanimously recommended spending $310,000 to rehabilitate the tennis courts at Lawrence School, $69,299 to install eight water refill stations at recreation facilities around town, $122,600 for a historic structures report and renovations at the Wicks House and $30,000 for Phase Three of the historical commission’s inventory of historic resources.
The $310,000 for the Lawrence School tennis courts rehabilitation is less than the $350,000 requested. The applications included $21,000 to repair the Tafts Playground. Ms. Sutherland noted the playground repair was not eligible for community preservation funding.
The committee voted 5-2 to recommend $10,000 in funding for the Cape Housing Institute training program run by the Housing Assistance Corporation, with Mr. Druley and Mr. Glynn opposed.
The committee also recommended $614,500 for The Gateway to the Greenway and the Coonamessett Greenway Heritage Trail project, which funds the cost of engineering, designing and constructing an open-air amphitheater at the lower loop trail and engineering work associated with the creation of a parking lot off John Parker Road. Ms. Goldman was the sole no vote.
“I think we should fund it at a different level, so there is money left for other projects,” she said.
The committee did not cast votes on the $93,954 request to install an ADA-accessible path at Harmony Path at Highfield Hall, $604,384 to rehabilitate and restore the Nobska Light Keeper’s House or $300,000 for the construction of six affordable homes on Barrows Road by Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod. Members had unanswered questions on all three projects, which will be addressed further at an upcoming meeting.
All the votes cast on November 29 were preliminary in nature. The community preservation committee was set to discuss applications further yesterday.