The Select Board Meets Sporting Face Coverings

Select Board Chair Mark Ahronian called the April 23, 2020 meeting to order at 7:13 (following an Executive Session).  Pursuant to the revised Open Meeting Law, he invited those on the phone to identify themselves.  Scott Moles, Holliston’s Health Director and several citizens were on the conference call.

Even with face coverings, we recognize our Select Board.

The first order of business was the COVID-19 update from Fire Chief / Emergency Management Director Michael Cassidy.

Fire Chief Cassidy briefs the Board on the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • This week’s report began with the announcement that since the last update, there has been an increase of 6 cases – a 33% increase – bringing Holliston’s total case count to 24.  Of those 14 are now clear, 1 fatality, and 9 active cases.
  • Massachusetts is now in the surge
  • Based on MA Dept Public Health data, Holliston’s rate of infection is lower than most neighboring communities
  • As modeled by those at the meeting, he encourages face masks whenever outside – especially when using the Rail Trail.
  • There is sufficient PPE on hand – thanks to recent deliveries of orders placed in Feb and March – to last through the surge.
  • He commended Town employees for continuing to do their jobs – and generally following CDC guidance
  • Referencing Gov Baker’s school closure announcement, schools are checking in with students and families to ensure that distance learning continues through the end of the school year
  • Everyone should be alert for social, emotional, and behavioral health needs – Youth & Family Services is available for support
  • Despite public requests, Chief Cassidy believes the Marshall Street Recycling Center should remain closed (more about this in Public Comment).

Warrants: Two warrants were approved:

  • April 20, 2020 – $1,712,643.74; and
  • April 27, 2020 – $1,213,900.04

Public Comment:

  • Tina Hein commended the Senior Center staff for continuing to provide meals and essential transportation to Holliston’s senior population.  The group ‘Holliston Love’ has been sewing masks (at their homes) for use during the pandemic.  Thank you, Linda Marshall, Linda Sottile, and Marty Schneier.
  • John Cronin commented on the goodness and kindness demonstrated by Hollistonians, specifically referencing a recent HR Bright Spot highlighting a private meal distribution system.  He also encouraged us to reach out to our neighbors.
  • Mark Ahronian added his thanks for the work the Senior Center staff are doing.  He also announced that beginning with next Monday’s Select Board meeting, the Select Board will meet remotely with Mr. Ahronian and Mr. Ritter in the Town Hall and all others joining via technology.
  • Paula Bloomquist of Northway Street asked if it would be possible to open the Recycling Center given all the debris and yard waste that has accumulated.  For several reasons the Board supports Chief Cassidy’s recommendation that the center remain closed to public access.  The Board did instruct Town Administrator Ritter to contact E.L. Harvey about a Spring curbside pickup of leaves, etc.  This may be a tradeoff for a pickup now and no pickup in the Fall as has been our custom.
  • Several residents in the neighborhood near the Lowland Street Industrial Park, voiced their concern about the safety impact of the large trucks that – despite signage directing trucks to access the Park via Whitney Street – continue to rumble through their residential streets.  The most recent incident had a large truck tangle with cable wires with such force that one resident’s internet router was pulled off the wall.  There was a police report filed on the incident and Mr. Ritter will follow up with HPD Chief Stone to get the truck’s insurance information for possible reimbursement.  Several ideas were offered by the citizens and Board members.  Any significant changes will require involvement by MA DOT.
Town Administrator Ritter updates the Board..

Town Adminstrator, Jeff Ritter shared the following with the Board:

  • The Town received 11 bids for debris removal at the Woodland Street demolition site.  The low bid was $40,000.  The new Facilities Manager, James Keast, was helpful in the process and he is in contact with MA DEP about postponing the work (and expense) until later in 2020.
  • New England Golf, the firm that manages the Town’s Pinecrest golf course, is seeking deferral of its lease payment.  The Board asked that the Golf Course Advisory Committee be engaged in the discussion / decision.  Mr. Ritter will follow up with golf committee chair, Deb Moore.
  • The finishing touches are being added to the 2020 Green Communities grant which is due next week.  This is the fourth year that the town has submitted requests – and has received funding during the past three years.
  • The newly chartered five-member Town Governance Committee is still looking for citizens to volunteer.  So far, one member has been appointed by the Board – Sam Tyler.  Other interested parties should contact Mr. Ritter by phone or e-mail.

Town Meeting Warrant – The Board reviewed the current draft of the June 15th Annual Town Meeting.  Edits will continue for the next several weeks – especially related to items requesting funds – given the current economic climate.  Mr. Cronin shared reassurance that the State has not cut its aid to towns and recent payments have been on time and in full.  The Town’s financial situation is strong. 

Board Business:

  • Capital Policy changes were tabled.  Related to expenses, the Board is requesting all Boards, Committees, and Department continue the spending freeze implemented in March and to prepare revised FY 21 budget proposals by May 8, 2020.  A letter providing more details will be sent to all Board, Committee chairs and Department heads on Friday April 24, 2020
  • Meeting minutes for March 30 and April 6, 2020 were approved
  • Town Administrator Screening Committee – 13 volunteers declared their interest in serving!
    • The Board first moved to increase the committee size from 5 – 7.  That motion was approved.
    • Each Board member shared the names they would want on the committee.
    • The Committee of seven is (in no particular order): Thomas Cady, Scott Mckechnie, James Arena-DeRosa, Mary Greendale, K. Robert Malone, and Barbara Gardner
  • The Year end budget transfers were postponed until after May 1st.

Other Business:

The Board accepted a $1,495 gift from the Holliston Newcomers and Neighbors to the Holliston Police Department to buy flex safe barriers.

Mrs. Hein noted that the 9 Green Street committee is planning a meeting in the near future. The Meeting adjourned at 8:49 pm.

Chris Cain

Leave a Comment