OP-ED: Vote Yes on 3 – The Trail to a Greener Framingham

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By Mary Kate Feeney

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FRAMINGHAM – During this time of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Cushing Memorial Park has become a respite from the constant bad news and the struggles of remote learning and working. It is a place for a stretch of the legs, fresh air and socially distant waving between neighbors. 

Thirty years ago, that property was the site of an old military hospital. The state closed the hospital and Framingham was left wondering what should be done with the 100 acres of land in the heart of our town. Elected and community leaders came together, worked on a plan, found the funding and created this jewel of our park system. They had a focus on the future. They wondered what was possible, and created a gift that honored the past but preserved the land for generations to come. 

Today voters have that same opportunity by voting YES on Question 3 to bring the Community Preservation Act to Framingham. 

Question 3 asks if we should adopt the Community Preservation Act, enabling a 1% surcharge on our quarterly property taxes to be allotted in a fund to pay for open space, recreation, historic preservation, or affordable housing initiatives. 

In recent years, Framingham has lost its way in planning for the future, maintaining open space, building new recreational facilities or improving old ones, and preserving our past. With climate change a serious threat, we cannot afford wasting any more time to make Framingham more green. Additionally, this pandemic has proven nature and outdoors play a critical role in our lives. For kids, it’s riding bikes down the Cochituate Rail Trail, for families it is hiking through Callahan State Park, or for seniors it’s a nice stroll through Cushing Park. 

CPA establishes a savings account for these kinds of projects, with state funding to match. A committee of local community leaders vet projects for funding, and submit these projects to the Council for approval. It is truly a community effort, just like the creation of Cushing Park decades ago.  

With community input, CPA gives us the resources to help fulfill projects and ideas, large and small, that have the potential to improve the quality of life here in Framingham. 

We could have used CPA funding to help build the skatepark, the newest recreational facility in more than a decade; restore Village Hall, which stalled in Town Meeting for years; or install welcome signs in every neighborhood from Nobscot to Coburnville, instead of just Saxonville. 

Imagine a revitalized Farm Pond with walking trails and kayak launches or expanded parking at Callahan State Park. Or finally joining the seven other communities already part of the Bruce Freeman Trail. 

Think about empty lots we can turn into community gardens, providing fresh produce or beautiful flowers in our neighborhoods. Rebuilding the beach house at Waushakum Pond, setting up dog parks, upgrading playgrounds that are Americans with Disabilities Act compliant and restoring the Carol Getchell Trail are all possible. 

Four years ago Framingham’s Town Meeting made a decision that has haunted our community. 

Passing on the purchase of the Millwood Golf Course has time and time again been referred to a watershed mark in our community. Members now regret their votes, while others are determined to never find ourselves in that situation again. 

This shortsighted decision by our leaders was the opposite of the visionary thinking our leaders had decades ago with Cushing Park. 

Voters should vote YES for CPA not because of past mistakes, but to become visionaries again. 

Embracing the Community Preservation Act requires us to make it work for us. It will require us to move beyond the North-South mentality of the past. It requires us to partner with nonprofits and our business community. It requires us to walk the path together. 

The Community Preservation Act provides the means. It is up to Framingham to come together, believe in ourselves and imagine.

Please join me in voting YES on Question 3 this November. 

Mary Kate Feeney, a resident of the Pheasant Hill neighborhood in Framingham, is a former aide to Governor Deval L. Patrick. 

editor

email: editor@FraminghamSource.com call or text at 508-315-7176


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