Select Board Discusses Traffic, Various Town Improvements

The Holliston Select Board discussed a wide range of town issues at its meeting on Monday, including downtown traffic, school improvements, and plans for the community farm and Pinecrest golf course.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Board member Tina Hein brought up some troubling statistics regarding the high rate of traffic accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians downtown. Hein said that 15% of accidents that cause injuries in Holliston involve a cyclist or pedestrian, which is well above the national average. This summer, a woman was killed after being hit by a car on Washington St.

Hein said that she would like to meet with public safety officials in town to discuss this issue and evaluate possible solutions. Both chairman Mark Ahronian and vice-chair John Cronin were in favor of having such a meeting.

The Board interviewed Officer Andrew MacGray, a candidate for promotion to Sergeant.

Continuing the traffic theme, the Board interviewed two Holliston police officers who are candidates to be promoted to Sergeant: Officer Todd Hagan and Officer Andrew MacGray. Both Hagan and MacGray said that the number one law enforcement issue in Holliston right now is the downtown traffic.

MacGray pointed out that while gridlock downtown is beginning to decrease, more and more people are running red lights. Both he and Hangan said that their first priority upon taking the job would be to increase patrols in the downtown area.

The Board also approved a series of capital requests from the School Committee. The requests include a proposal to purchase vape detectors to be placed in the high school bathrooms. Committee vice-chair Anne Louise Hanstad said that this is part of an effort to decrease the amount of teens vaping, given the recent national news about vaping related illnesses.

Both Hein and Cronin had reservations about the detectors. Hein pointed out that since these are relatively new devices, there is no data to show that they actually work to decrease the amount of students who vape. Cronin said that if the detectors were to be placed in the bathrooms, there is nothing stopping students from simply finding another place to vape.

Other funding for improvements included in the School Committee’s requests were for replacing the gym bleachers at the middle school, replacing rooftop HVAC units at the middle and high schools, and introducing a new literacy program for the elementary schools.

Kris Westland spoke to the Board about improvements to the Community Farm’s farmhouse.

Later in the meeting, the Board heard from Kris Westland of the Community Farm Advisory Committee, who shared with the Board plans for structural work on the farmhouse at the community farm. All the work will either be donated or funded through the Friends of the Community Farm.

The goal is to turn the farmhouse, which is currently unusable, into classroom space for educational programs. The Board voted to accept the donation of the work and to waive the permit fee for the project.

The Board then heard from the Golf Course Advisory and Pinecrest Clubhouse Committees about a final decision on improvements to the Pinecrest clubhouse. Three options had been presented to the board: one would be to do nothing, the second would be to expand the kitchen and storage space and re-do the existing bathrooms, and the third would be to also convert the on-site tent to a permanent structure. 

Jay Robinson and Deborah Moore discussed plans for the Pinecrest clubhouse.

Jay Robinson of the Pinecrest Clubhouse committee presented the financial analysis for options two and three, and determined that option two (expanding the kitchen and storage space only) would be the most viable. Golf Course Advisory Committee chair Deborah Moore said that her committee voted to recommend going with that option as well.

After much discussion, the Board voted to recommend option two as well, although Cronin said that he would have preferred option three, but it was not financially viable.

The Board was also scheduled to hold a public hearing for the laying of a new conduit on Boynton Road by Eversource, but no representative from Eversource was present at the meeting. The hearing was postponed until next week.

Matt Ristaino

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