SHIRLEY — Turnout was low in the annual town election on Tuesday, but those who cast their ballots made their support for the Community Preservation Act abundantly clear.
A total of 688 voters made their voices heard Tuesday, just 15.53% of the town’s 4,430 registered voters. When it came to CPA, 505 voters were in favor, 180 were opposed, with three blank ballots cast.
After an enthusiastic campaign that included townwide mailings and signs promoting a “yes” vote on the CPA ballot question, the act, which will levy a 1% surcharge on property owner’s annual tax bills, with some noted exceptions, has been in place in many other cities and towns across the state for some time, including Ayer and other neighboring communities.
Now, it’s on the books in Shirley, too.
The pro-CPA campaign was headed by a grass-roots group called “Small Town Shirley” whose stated purpose is to preserve the town’s intrinsic assets — rural character, historic landmarks and small town vibe, for example, through various initiatives, CPA being one of them.
Under the law enacted by the state Legislature in 2000, projects in certain categories can vie for funding from the CPA coffers, with a committee appointed to oversee the process.
The committee, the makeup of which is stated in the law, reviews applications, oversees the CPA nest egg and makes funding recommendations to town meeting voters every year.
Projects considered for funding under CPA are limited to those aimed at historic preservation, creation of affordable housing, open space and outdoor recreation.
The passage of the CPA was the only thing in question Tuesday, with the remainder of the ballot consisting of uncontested seats for various town boards, including Board of Assessors, Board of Health, Constable, Library Trustees, Planning Board, Recreation Committee, Ayer Shirley Regional School District School Committee, Sewer Commission and War Memorial Trustees (veteran and non-veteran.)
Debra Flagg retained her seat on the Select Board with 571 votes, while longtime ARSD School Committee member Joyce Reischutz retained hers with 540 votes. Both were without challengers.
While one of the openings for a veteran on the War Memorial Board of Trustee was filled by the incumbent, the other seat – recently vacated by the late Norman Albert, remains open.