Select Board Handles a Full Agenda

Following an Executive Session related to Pending Litigation, the Holliston Select Board convened at 7;05 pm.  The meeting was broadcast on HCAT and available via conference call for remote participation.

As has been the custom for the past month, the first item on the agenda was a COVID-19 update.

Chief Cassidy models the correct wearing of face protection when in public. He claims to have a wide array of colorful masks to complement his usual natty attire.

Fire Chief / Emergency Management Director Michael Cassidy briefed the Board on Holliston’s experience with COVID-19 to date.  Some highlights:

  • There were no new cases on Monday
  • There have been 18 confirmed cases: 9 have recovered, 1 fatality, and 8 active cases
  • The daily update can be found here – Holliston COVID-19 Information
  • Generally, citizens and businesses are being compliant with stay-at-home advisory
  • New CDC data suggests that the virus can spread as far as 13 feet and it can be transmitted on shoes
  • Education continues for businesses and citizens regarding adequate social distancing – especially on the Rail Trail
  • Cassidy encouraged everyone to wear a face mask when in public
  • The Town has 395 N95 masks in stock and 500 more are in transit – in response to a question, Cassidy assured the Board that there has never been a time when NOT (correction thanks to Louise Grimes) enough PPE was available
  • He thanked the town workers and media for their work during this difficult time
  • Be aware of changes in behavioral health in friends and family

The weekly town warrants totaling $594,704.59 were approved.

Public Comment:

Mrs. Hein reported that the Holliston Pantry Shelf is now delivering to 136 families – up 50% from normal usage.  The Pantry needs food and financial support to meet the growing need.  Anyone can now contact the Pantry for food delivery.  Also, the Holliston Community Action Fund is making grants through Holliston’s Youth and Family Services Department.  Financial support can be made at Community Action Fund

Mr. Cronin encouraged us all that we are getting through this pandemic and it is not time to let up on our mitigation efforts.

Mr. Ahronian thanked Town Administrator Jeff Ritter for handling the increased call / e-mail volume related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

No public comments came from the Conference Call phone line.

Town Administrator, Jeff Ritter, updates the Board

Town Administrator, Jeff Ritter, reported the following:

  • The Town offices are being manned daily with one person on duty.
  • He thanked Scott Moles and Chief Mike Cassidy for their excellent work during this pandemic
  • Prompted by a question from Mr. Cronin, the weekly Select Board meeting will be held next Monday, April 20.

The Water Rate Hearing that was opened at a previous meeting was continued at this meeting.  The Board approved a motion to hold the hearing open (based on a recommendation of DPW Director, Sean Reese who was on the conference call) until early June.

Gretchen Caldwell, of 121 Underwood Street, along with Leslie Doyle of Sherburn, and Cara Holmquist from the MA Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals presented a Petitioners Article for inclusion on the Town Meeting warrant.  The thorough presentation provided the rationale for the Article that would ban the sale of animals raised at ‘puppy mills’ in the Town.  Currently there are no such businesses in Holliston.  As is customary, the Board withheld any opinion on the Article – until it is presented at Town Meeting.

Holliston’s new Facilities Manager, James Keast, updated the Board on his activities and accomplishments during his first month on the job.  His presentation had three sections: 1) Actions / Accomplishments, 2) Software related to facilities management, and 3) A preliminary report on the condition of the DPW facilities at Arch and Central Streets.

  1. His detailed report demonstrates that the pandemic has not kept him from getting a great deal done. 
  2. Keast, along with Town Technology Director Chris Meo, have reviewed five Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS).  He provided the Board with a comparison matrix of the products.  The Board approved a motion to commission Mr. Keast, with Sean Reese, to develop a bid package to ‘shop’ for a CMMS.
  3. The initial inspection of the facilities at the Town Garage and Water Department headquarters showed buildings in need of care.  Two items of note: there is no apparent fire suppression system at the Town Fueling Site on Arch Street, and the sand/salt storage barn has bulging walls.  The Board requested that Fire Chief Cassidy weigh in on the fueling site and that Conservation Agent Ryan Clapp inspect the storage barns.  Photos from Mr. Keast’s inspection of the buildings will be posted on the Town website in the near future.

Holliston’s Sustainability Coordinator, Matt Zetteck, provided an update on his recent activities.

  • It will be the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22, 2020.
  • The positive impact of the pandemic is the significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions
  • He recently met with the Upper Charles Climate Action Group
  • He is working with the Town’s energy aggregators to get the revised aggregation plan posted on the Town website to invite citizen comments
  • In the Waste Reduction area, the pandemic has slowed efforts to expand food and textile recycling. 
  • What to recycle continues to be a challenge for citizens and E.L. Harvey – the ‘Recyclopedia’ is a reliable source to properly dispose of waste and recyclables. Massachusetts ‘Recyclopedia’
  • The MVP project is on hold while the State deals with funding pandemic mitigation and financial actions.
  • Dam inspections are ongoing.

The Board thanked Matt for his efforts since coming on board early this year.

Board Business:

  • Tabled action on minutes from the March 30, 2020 meeting
  • Appointed Kate Cunningham to a 2-year term on the Youth Advisory Committee
  • Edits / discussion continue related to the Annual Town Meeting Warrant – currently planned for June 15, 2020
  • Three motions related to revenue collection were approved by the Board:
    • Extend the filing deadline for tax exemptions and deferments to June 1, 2020
    • Waive penalties and interest on late payments of excise tax, water bills, and real estate taxes
    • Delay the due date of 4th quarter property tax to June 1, 2020.  (Water bills normally due on May 15th are due June 15, 2020.)
  • Eleven citizens have volunteered to serve on the Town Administrator Screening Committee as of the deadline last Friday.  The Board will select the Five members of the committee at next week’s meeting.  Mr. Cronin noted that there is a ‘great pool’ of candidates.

Other Business:

  • Mr. Cronin will be attending the MMA Briefing being held Tuesday (Today)
  • Mr. Ahronian reminded us all to stay safe.

The meeting adjourned at 9:05 pm.

Chris Cain

2 Comments

  1. David Dysert on April 14, 2020 at 11:57 am

    Here is a disturbing exposé:
    https://www.npr.org/2020/03/31/822597631/plastic-wars-three-takeaways-from-the-fight-over-the-future-of-plastics

    The Petroleum and Plastics industry has apparently known that very little plastic (especially #’s 3 and above) can get recycled. Rather, most is burned, buried, “lost” (oceans). The industry has spent time and money to convince us that we are doing the right thing by returning our plastics — but it doesn’t work and their ruse has given them cover to keep producing as much as they want.

    Too bad our town cannot sue to get our recycling expense money back, since very little of the stuff gets re-processed.

  2. David Dysert on April 16, 2020 at 11:09 am

    Should have added that it’s not all bad 😉 That is, paper, glass, metal do recycle well. We should keep that up, although I’ve read that the average percentage of things that ‘do’ get recycled versus ‘can’ be recycled is only around 30% (with a few selected materials nearing 50%). But glass and metal are endlessly recyclable, or nearly so, so industries could try to use more of that. Paper can be re-processed several times but not forever. (Plastics #1 and #2 can be re-processed just once — after which the components are not usable.)

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