Select Board Postpones Town Meeting and Town Election

Select Board Members keep a social distance as they conduct the Town’s business.

Select Board Chair, Mark Ahronian called the weekly meeting to order at precisely 7:00 pm. The first order of business was an update on the COVID-19 virus and its impact in Holliston.

Fire Chief / Emergency Management Director, Michael Cassidy updates the Board on the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • There currently seven (corrected from eight which was erroneously reported earlier) confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Holliston: 1 has recovered, 1 will recover soon, 5 are quarantined at home.
  • Massachusetts expects the peak of infections to occur between April 7 and 17, 2020.
  • New cases MAY decline around June 1st – IF social distancing continues.
  • Please abide by the signs / barriers blocking access to parks, etc.
  • The Town has adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) thanks to donations, distribution from stockpiles, and orders in the pipeline from vendors. The Chief feels we are ahead of the curve on PPE.
  • There have been 3 instances of Holliston first responders possibly coming in contact – all 3 have been cleared for duty.
  • HPD and HFD have implemented new procedures to meet people outside when possible and the ambulance seals the patient compartment from the driver’s area.
  • The Town has spent:
    • $2,500 on PPE
    • $600 on Town tech upgrades to allow work-from-home
    • $20,000 on Chromebooks for HPS students and staff
    • $17,000 on food for Grab-n-go meals
  • Enforcement of the stay-at-home advisory has been better this week – people are not congregating at parks / playgrounds.

The weekly warrant of $134,839.59 was approved by the Board.

During Public Comment:

Mrs. Hein commended all those involved in the Grab-n-go meal program and reminded everyone that grants from the Holliston Community Action Fund can be requested through the Youth and Family Services office – and donations can be made at the HCAF website: Hein also asked the Town Administrator to schedule an update from Sustainability Coordinator Zetteck at a future Board meeting.

Mr. Cronin thanked all first responders and medical professionals. Cronin added, ‘they’re all heroes!’

Mr. Ahronian thanked the residents for their kindness and caring.

Joan Levinsohn was on the conference call and added the following:

  • Thanked the Board, Chief Cassidy and Rep. Dykema for their actions related to COVID-19
  • Looking forward to an update from our Sustainability Coordinator, Matt Zetteck and funding from the new energy aggregation agreement for the Sustainability Coordinator contract
  • Excited about Matt’s potential involvement in MVP
  • Hopes that sustainability will be a key component of the search for our next Town Administrator
Town Administrator, Jeff Ritter updates the Board.

Town Administrator, Jeff Ritter shared the following:

  • The Cedar Street neighborhood water main replacement project will begin as planned around April 14, 2020.
  • The Town’s new Facilities Manager, James Keast is off to a great start stepping right in to take on important work.
  • Marshall Street recycling center remains closed to maintain social distancing.
  • Most Town staff are working from home – with their office phones forwarded to their homes.
  • He is very busy with COVID-19 related work

The Board was joined on the phone by Town Counsel and the Town Clerk to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the upcoming Town Meeting and Town Election. Recently passed State legislation allows postponed of these annual events.

The Board approved two motions: to move the Annual Town Meeting to June 15, 2020, 7:30 pm at HHS; and hold the Town Election on Tuesday , June 23, 2020 at HHS.

Candidates for the Town Election still have until TODAY (March 31) to submit signed nomination forms. Town Clerk, Liz Greendale, suggests early voting to avoid congested spaces.

Board Business:

  • Given the postponement of the Town Meeting, there was a brief discussion regarding the warrant. Mr. Cronin proposed a motion to accept the Stantec proposal for work related to four DPW related articles for the Warrant – the motion was approved.
  • Related to the Town Meeting and Budget, Mr. Cronin proposed a spending freeze on non-discretionary supplies for the remainder of this fiscal year – the savings would be $62,600. The motion was approved with the understanding that departments can request a waiver from the freeze. The financials will be reviewed again next week.
  • The Board accepted two donations:
    • $16,500 Community Traffic Projects Grant for use by HPD
    • Holliston Grill’s donation to HFD
  • The Board approved the name change on the Host Community Agreement with Good Chemistry of Massachusetts.
  • Approved meeting minutes from March 11 and 13, 2020
  • Tabled discussion on the MVP action until next week
  • Appointed Sam Tyler to the Governance Committee
  • The Board is seeking volunteers to serve on the Town Administrator Screening Committee. It is a five member committee that would work with the search firm hired by the Town. Ideally, there would be one member to fill each of the following facets of the Administrator’s job: Business / Finance; Public / Senior Management, Human Resources, Leadership, and one at-large slot. Interested parties should contact Jeff Ritter.

Other Business:

Mrs. Hein alerted the Board that, given the postponement of Town Meeting, the 9 Green Street committee may have an article to add to the Warrant.

The meeting adjourned at 8:25 pm.

Chris Cain

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