Select Board March 2nd Meeting

At 6:00 the Board met with John Petrin (seen above addressing the Board), Senior Associate, from Community Paradigm Associates.  The Board is considering using this firm to conduct a search to fill the Town Administrator position in July when Jeff Ritter retires. The firm was recommended to the Board by our Town Counsel.  The firm submitted a bid of $9,800 to assist the Town through the preparation, advertising, initial review, and ultimately selection.  Typically, their work takes about 15 weeks from start to finish.  The Board took this proposal under advisement for action at a later date.

After a short break, the meeting resumed at 7:05 with the approval of the weekly warrants totaling – $1,100, 062.48.

In Public Comment, Board Member Tina Hein reminded drivers to obey all traffic rules following an incident that one Holliston student had while in a crosswalk at Linden Street.  Vice-chair John Cronin commended the professionalism of HPD in handling a recent break in.  Chair Mark Ahronian alerted the citizens that there will be a vision meeting this Wednesday at 7:00 pm in room 105 at Town Hall.  Members of the Select Board, School Committee, and Finance Committee will be meeting jointly, and the public is invited.

Town Administrator, Jeff Ritter, presented the following:

  • Mr. James Keast will begin his duties as Holliston’s new Facilities Manager on March 16th.
  • A plan is in place to complete the demolition of a town property at 310 Woodland Street
  • He will present the very first draft of the Annual Town Meeting Warrant later in the meeting
  • A meeting last Wednesday prepared Holliston’s MVP Request for Proposal for the Board’s signature.

Mark Cappadona and Denise Allard of Colonial Power (above)

Holliston’s power aggregator, Colonial Power, requested that the Board authorize the Town Administrator to act on the Town’s behalf to secure new (probably lower) energy rates.  The Board also authorized Mr. Ritter to include the add manager option that would help fund the work of Holliston’s Sustainability Coordinator.  The Board authorized Mr. Ritter to contract for future energy service for the citizens of Holliston.

Terenzio Volpicelli, from the Town’s Audit firm – Roselli, Clark, and Associates, presented the annual audit report.  At this point a lot of numbers were shared.  To use an accounting term – the bottom line is that Holliston is in excellent financial health.  One indicator of that health is Standard & Poors recent AA+ Stable bond rating which sets our borrowing rate.  There is only one rating higher – AAA – and he noted that Holliston is ‘in the conversation’ for consideration of that higher rating if we continue our sound fiscal practices.

Mary Bousquet, Town Treasurer / Tax Collector, presented the proposed FY 21 budgets for Employee Benefits – $9,953,168 (after allocation) and the Town’s Debt – $3,010,554.  Both were approved by the Board.

Kris Westland provided the Board with an update on the Community Farm on Rogers Road.  Once again, this year, the Park & Recreation Department will have a group planting in the greenhouse during the spring.  Upswing Farm will be setting up their CSA pick up stand at the Farm once / week to make it easier for Holliston customers to pick up their veggies.  Kris highlighted the tremendous amount of ‘gift in kind’ donations that have been made at the farm – a new septic system, house repairs in the neighborhood of $50,000 and greenhouse work to the tune of $20,000.  Thank goodness for generous Hollistonians!  Save the date – Sunday April 5, 2020 will be the annual Easter Egg Hunt fundraiser at the farm.

Police Chief Matthew Stone, in profile, and LT Chad Thompson, presented the proposed FY 21 HPD budget.  At the urging of Board Chair Mr. Ahronian, the Chief reviewed the many enhancements the department has implemented since he became Chief on April 5, 2017.  As an example, during the past fiscal year the department handled more than 17,000 calls.  The Board approved the Chief’s budget proposal of $3,105,122.

Board Business went as follows:

  • The preliminary Annual Meeting Warrant was reviewed – much work on this will take place in the coming weeks
  • Several meeting minutes were approved (executive session minutes are approved but not made public)
  • The Holliston portion of the Metrowest Veterans’ District FY 21 budget of $41,239.27 was approved
  • The Board accepted donations to the Community farm from the Downtown Marigold Project – $425 and the American Legion Post 47 – $200.  Also, the Board accepted a donation to the Senior Center from the collection jar at the Superette – $400.
  • The Board appointed two new firefighters / EMT’s to the HFD and Eric Woodhouse was appointed to the Blair Square committee
  • The Board approved the Chapter 90 reimbursement request to the state in the amount of $277,117.50 for the culvert replacement on Westfield Drive
  • The Water Rate Hearing was continued to a later date to be published when the date is known
  • The Board approved the RFP related to Holliston’s MVP work.  Mr. Ritter will post the RFP tomorrow to attract bidders
  • Mr. James Keast has resigned as a Park Commissioner.  The Board accepted his resignation and authorized the Town Clerk to add the resulting vacancy to the candidate list for the May Town Election.

In Other Board Business:

  • The Board authorized an advisory opinion memo be sent to the ZBA requiring that a traffic engineer be engaged by the owner of 799 Washington Street (Old Gulf Station) with a report made available prior the planned ZBA hearing on March 30, 2020.
  • The Board approved the formation of a Governance Committee to examine the intersection of MGL Chapter 94 and Holliston’s Bylaws.  The details of this Committee’s charge will be worked out at next week’s Select Board meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 9:37.

Chris Cain

3 Comments

  1. shaw lively on March 3, 2020 at 8:13 am

    Thank you for this extensive coverage.

  2. Gary Zegel on March 3, 2020 at 9:25 am

    Just curious…why would a traffic engineer need to be engaged by the owner of the Gulf Station? I would be delighted to see a vacant business back open and in business. Unless the new use of the property is to be dramatically altered, why would the ZBA have to get involved? I would think we would go out of our way to help a business reopen quickly. Is there a proposed change in use other then open for business? Thanks.

  3. Tina Hein on March 4, 2020 at 7:46 am

    The move to involve a traffic engineer is due to the change of the intersection design and signalization since the last time the business was in operation. There will be impacts on traffic flow and intersection level of service with any newly operating driveway or access point to properties in the immediate area.

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