Corporate Identity

Hours:

Monday - Friday: 5:30am - 8:30pm

Saturday: 7:30am-3:30pm

Sunday: 10:00am-3:00pm

508-362-6500

Folio Area

Page Content

Housing, Farming And Outdoor Recreation Highlighted As CPC Funding Needs

By NOELLE ANNONEN – May 14, 2024 – Read the full article from The Falmouth Enterprise, here.

 

YMCA Site Tour
This bird’s-eye rendering of the proposed YMCA building in Falmouth shows some of the planned outdoor activity spaces at the bottom of the image. The YMCA is seeking Community Preservation Funds for these spaces. GENE M. MARCHAND/ENTERPRISE

The Falmouth Community Preservation Committee was urged last week to continue funding affordable housing even after the town reaches “safe harbor” in order to help preserve land for farmland and housing for farmers and to assist the YMCA in building outdoor recreation areas at its proposed facility in town.

The ideas were presented during the committee’s annual needs assessment hearing last Thursday, May 9.

The committee holds a needs assessment each year to learn from the public what priorities it should consider in the coming year. The committee could choose to support funds for some of those priorities without the need for a formal funding request. All funding must be approved by Town Meeting.

Affordable Housing

Laura M. Moynihan, executive director and in-house counsel for the Falmouth Housing Trust, stressed the urgency for Falmouth to continue building affordable housing, even after the town reaches safe harbor status. Under state law, the town can claim safe harbor from Chapter 40B affordable housing developments, and gain a greater ability to deny these projects, once 10 percent of its total housing stock is designated as affordable.

“People may feel when we reach safe harbor, the crisis is gone,” Ms. Moynihan said. But she argued that the town’s housing problem will be far from over. “It’s starting to sound a little bit like a broken record. It’s important anyway.”

Ms. Moynihan laid out the statistics: the median price of a Falmouth home is now more than $700,000, which requires more than $200,000 in income for a household to afford. Meanwhile, the average income in Barnstable County is just over $122,000.

“That’s just out of reach for our workforce,” Ms. Moynihan said.

She added that much of the town’s affordable housing is age restricted for seniors and workforce families will not be able to live in them.

The housing production plan found that only 18 percent of households in Falmouth consist of one or more wage earners under age 45, which is lower than the state average of 38 percent. When the town loses more people in this demographic, it loses its workforce, Ms. Moynihan said, adding some might feel it is fine for workforce families to move off Cape and commute from there. But that lifestyle will not last forever. Eventually, she pointed out, working parents will want to stay closer to their own communities where their children attend school.

Ms. Moynihan said rental rates are rising as landlords invest in “luxury” apartments. Luxury apartments, she said, are appealing to the proverbial “snowbird,” who might have historically bought a house in Falmouth but now finds renting a nice apartment for only part of the year is more economical due to high prices and property taxes. She argued that luxury apartments and their accompanying rates would box out workforce families, since they would not be able to afford either a home or the rent for a luxury apartment.

Since 2005, the community preservation committee has spent 23.8 percent of the funds it allocated on affordable housing. This is second only to the 39.1 percent it spent on land bank debt. But Ms. Moynihan asked the committee to do more by considering a goal of funding the creation of 80 units a year for the next five years for a total of 400 units.

“It can’t just be the CPC,” committee acting chairwoman Sandra Cuny said.

Ms. Moynihan agreed, adding that she wanted to reiterate the need for affordable housing and that the crisis will not disappear whenever Falmouth achieves safe harbor with the state.

Housing For Farmers

Farming Falmouth President Ellie Costa and Vice President Kristi Frazier presented conceptual plans to preserve six acres of land near Falmouth High School for both agriculture and housing, but housing specifically for farmers. Ms. Costa said Farming Falmouth would like to own the land and lease it to growers who would live on site while tending to their crops.

The pair would not reveal the precise location of the six acres since negotiations for its purchase are still underway, but Ms. Costa stressed that the idea is to use CPC funds to preserve most of the land as open space for agriculture. The site might potentially be open to recreation via trails, she said, but it would also serve as an educational hub so that the public can learn from new farming practices.

“We need to embrace local agriculture,” Ms. Costa said. “And protect land for farmers, providing access for affordable land for the next generations.”

Ms. Costa pointed out that the Falmouth Service Center is providing food to more and more families as grocery prices climb and said that many town children rely on free meal programs. Protecting Falmouth’s open space specifically for agriculture could help address that problem, she said.

Throughout the course of the previous century, farming was generally founded on the “get big or get out” idea, Ms. Costa said. But nowadays, she said, younger generations of farmers are bringing back the idea of small farms. The idea is to make the most of small areas; producing big on small plots of land. She said one Falmouth farmer was able to produce 2,400 pounds of food on one acre of land, adding that much of Farming Falmouth’s produce is donated to the Falmouth Service Center.

Farming Falmouth representatives did not have a specific figure for how much money they might need for the project, since negotiations are still ongoing.

Outdoor Recreation At The YMCA

Plans to build a YMCA near Falmouth High School are well underway. PJ Richardson, chief financial development officer for YMCA Cape Cod, presented an idea for outdoor recreation spaces on the land.

The YMCA is set to build a 68,000-square-foot, $35 million facility at 485 Brick Kiln Road. Mr. Richardson said part of the project might be eligible for community preservation funds.

Mr. Richardson said staff are planning to create age-appropriate outdoor recreation and activity spaces near the building. Those areas would range from a playground for children to a hang out space for teenagers to a park-like area for seniors to socialize or, he said, play chess at outdoor tables. People would not have to have a YMCA membership to use the outdoor spaces, Mr. Richardson said, although the YMCA would work to make memberships affordable for people in the community.

Community preservation committee member Michael Stone asked how much money the committee might be asked to provide. Mr. Richardson said it would depend on how much money the YMCA can raise, but he guessed the YMCA could use as much as $2.5 million for the outdoor spaces.

“That’s a win-win,” Ms. Cuny said. “This has been a long time coming.”

Post navigation

YMCA CAPE COD|2245 Route 132|West Barnstable, MA 02668|508-362-6500|Website by Design Principles, Inc.

SMALL pool closed 6/1-6/30 for renovations