Holliston Takes Care of Business

As the snow began to fall and having reached a quorum (50 for this meeting), Moderator Bill Mayer called the Holliston Special Town Meeting to order at 1:05 pm.  Before moving on to the business at hand, Moderator Mayer asked for a moment of silence to remember the 250,000 + American lives lost to the pandemic and to reflect on the passing of Bill Stickney and Vasco Brovelli.

Mr. Mayer invited Select Board Chair John Cronin to make a presentation to the Meeting on behalf of the Board. In lieu of a presentation, Mr. Cronin welcomed all to the Meeting and thanked citizens for venturing out to conduct the Town’s important business.  He thanked Fire Chief Michael Cassidy, Town Administrator Travis Ahern, and the many others who prepared for a safe and efficient Meeting.  Cronin shared that the Board was proud of the Warrant and the streamlined processes that had helped to arrive at the document we were there to discuss and decide.

Finance Committee Chair Ken Szajda used the FinCom’s allotted time to present an overview of the Committee’s recommendations and rationales for each.  Key takeaways from his presentation were: the Town is in a very Strong financial state – especially in light of the pandemic; and that many taxpayers could see a lower tax bill for the coming year.  He warned that some new property valuations may cause an increased tax bill AND that the potentially lower taxes in 2021 may be followed by an upward adjustment in 2022.

The citizens in attendance complied with all safety measures and filled in only the open seats to maintain spacing.  Chief Cassidy and other Firefighters served as ushers to find appropriate seating and managed the exit flow after adjournment.

The meeting proceeded in an orderly fashion with ALL sixteen articles passed unanimously.  There were a few questions and comments related to specific articles.  Those are noted below.

ARTICLE 1: FISCAL YEAR 2021 BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS

SPONSORED BY: Select Board      ESTIMATED COST: $564,800

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate or transfer from available funds a sum of money for the purpose of supplementing various accounts for the Town’s Fiscal Year 2021 annual budget, previously voted by the Town under Article 14, of the Warrant for 2020 Annual Town Meeting; or take any action relative thereto.

ARTICLE 2: AMEND CONSOLIDATED PERSONNEL BY-LAW SECTION 29, JOB AND WAGE CLASSIFICATION PLAN

SPONSORED BY: Town Administrator

To see if the Town will vote to amend the Consolidated Personnel By-law Section 29, Job and Wage Classification Plan, by reflecting those revisions, deletions and/or additions as set forth below, to be effective July 1, 2020; or take any action relative thereto.

ARTICLE 3: STABILIZATION FUND

SPONSORED BY: Select Board      ESTIMATED COST: $884,000

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate or transfer from available funds a sum of money for the Stabilization Fund; or take any action relative thereto.

Mr. Rick Gallimore of 785 Central Street asked the first of three questions during the meeting.  He asked for clarification as to how the $884,000 would be paid and its potential impact on taxes.  Mr. Ahern responded that $400,000 would come from tax revenue and the remainder from available Overlay funds released by the Board of Assessors.

ARTICLE 4: CAPITAL EXPENDITURE FUND

SPONSORED BY: Select Board      ESTIMATED COST: $1,744,775

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate or transfer from available funds a sum of money for the Capital Expenditure Fund; or take any action relative thereto.

ARTICLE 5: CAPITAL BUDGET

SPONSORED BY: Select Board      ESTIMATED COST: $1,255,316

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate, transfer from available funds or borrow a sum of money for the purpose of capital expenditures, including replacement of old vehicles and equipment, for the following departments: Select Board, Police, Fire, Ambulance, DPW (Highway), DPW (Facilities), Schools, and authorize the Select Board to trade or sell equipment toward part of the purchase price; or take any action relative thereto.

ARTICLE 6: COMMUNITY PRESERVATION COMMITTEE REPORT

SPONSORED BY: Community Preservation Committee     ESTIMATED COST: $345,619

To see if the Town will vote to appropriate $150,000 from the Historic Preservation Reserve for Town Hall Window Repair & Improvements; $85,000 from the Historic Preservation Reserve for the Public Library Front Façade Repairs; $70,000 from the Historic Preservation Reserve for Floor Replacement and Refinishing in Upper Town Hall and $30,000 from the General Reserve for the same purpose.

To see if the Town will vote to appropriate $9,999 from the Community Preservation Fund’s General Reserve for the purpose of assisting the Holliston Parks and Recreation Department with drainage repairs at Stoddard Park.

To see if the town will vote to appropriate $620 from the Open Space Reserve to build a boardwalk in Wenakeening Woods (Eagle Scout Project – Chris MacLean, Boy Scout Troop 73); or take any action relative thereto.

Mrs. Barbara Gardner, 114 Jennings Road, complimented the Board and Mr. Ahern for presenting such a concise and clear Warrant.  She asked if the Meeting could hear more about the activities funded by Article 6.

Frank Chamberlain, Community Preservation Committee Chair, elucidated the finer points of the Article and shared an interesting fact about the Town Hall’s large front window.  During heavy winds that window ‘flexes’ 4 inches in / out.  One of the items is to place a custom storm window on that window to reduce wear and tear.  The funds for the Eagle Scout project will allow a floating walkway to be installed behind Mission Springs.

ARTICLE 7: ROADWAY, DRAINAGE & SIDEWALK IMPROVEMENTS

SPONSORED BY: Select Board      ESTIMATED COST: $418,000

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate or transfer from available funds $418,000 for Department of Public Works, Highway Division for construction and engineering tasks related to drainage, sidewalk and roadway rehabilitation on Spring, School, Exchange, Union, Mechanic and Pleasant Streets also known as Mudville Neighborhood, or take any action relative thereto.

ARTICLE 8: SIDEWALK PRIORITIZATION PLAN

SPONSORED BY: Select Board      ESTIMATED COST: $40,000

To see if the town will vote to raise and appropriate or transfer from available funds $40,000 for the purposes or creating a sidewalk asset inventory plan and prioritization plan including but not limited to design, engineering, and construction management and maintenance services, or take any action relative thereto.

Mr. Cronin clarified that this initial study would be the basis for future planning and likely lead to future expenditures that would come before Town Meeting.

ARTICLE 9: WATER SYSTEM MODERNIZATION PLAN (INCL. SOURCE STUDY)

SPONSORED BY: Select Board      ESTIMATED COST: $75,000

To see if the Town will vote to transfer from water retained earnings $75,000 to be expended by the Select Board, for the development of a water system modernization plan and to study water source development or take any action relative thereto.

ARTICLE 10: WATER MAIN REPLACEMENT

SPONSORED BY: Select Board      ESTIMATED COST: $2,800,000

To see if the Town will vote to transfer from the water infrastructure fee fund $2,800,000 for tasks related to the replacement of approximately 10,600 linear feet of water main on Winter Street; the scope of work to also include service connections, valves, fire hydrants, and all related work, or take any action relative thereto.

Mr. Gallimore asked why Winter Street was slated for this work and whether there is a plan / prioritization for future such work.  Mr. Cronin responded that there is a plan and Winter Street is at the top of the priority list.  Cronin also offered that Mr. Gallimore could learn more about the plan by contacting the Town Administrator.

ARTICLE 11: WATER TREATMENT PLANT – SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION

SPONSORED BY: Select Board      ESTIMATED COST: $850,000

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate or transfer from available funds $850,000 for the Greensand Filtration Facility at Well No. 5 from the previous Town Meeting approved borrowing authorization of $8.375 million (Art. 18, May 8, 2018); or take any action relative thereto.

ARTICLE 12: STORM WATER MANAGEMENT ENGINEERING / DESIGN

SPONSORED BY: Select Board      ESTIMATED COST: $92,300

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate or transfer from available funds $92,300 for engineering services related to compliance with the EPA and MassDEP Municipal Storm Water Management Regulations. Funds to be used to develop regulatory mechanism assistance, operations and maintenance plan, Storm Water pollution prevention plan preparation, public education assistance, integrated GIS data collection, field work BMP inspections, and annual report; or take any action relative thereto.

ARTICLE 13: DESIGN/ENGINEERING FOR 9 GREEN STREET

SPONSORED BY: Select Board      ESTIMATED COST: $54,900

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate or transfer from available funds $54,900 for the cost of designing, engineering, and planning as related to the 9 Green Street property owned by the Town from a previous taking or take any action relative thereto.

Select Board Vice Chair Tina Hein responded to Mr. Gallimore’s question about the future plans for the property.  Hein spoke on behalf of the 9 Green St. Committee to say that there are no final plans but the most likely outcome would be to create a public parking lot.

ARTICLE 14: PUBLIC SAFETY – SIGNS & EQUIPMENT

SPONSORED BY: Select Board      ESTIMATED COST: $52,500

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate or transfer from available funds $52,500 for the purposes of acquiring and installing signs recommended by the Traffic Advisory Committee (TAC) and to fund equipment related to traffic enforcement and regulation as recommended by the TAC or take any action relative thereto.

Mrs. Hein clarified that the Traffic Advisory Committee has 3 citizens as members, in addition to the Town Public Safety officials.

ARTICLE 15: TRAFFIC & SOUND ENGINEERING STUDIES

SPONSORED BY: Select Board      ESTIMATED COST: $40,000

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate or transfer from available funds $40,000 for the purposes of traffic engineering and sound engineering studies or take any action relative thereto.

ARTICLE 16: ROAD ACCEPTANCES

SPONSORED BY: Select Board

To see if the Town will vote to accept as public ways, Hopping Brook Road (Sta. 0+00 to Sta. 40+93.02) and Boynton Road in the Hopping Brook Definitive Subdivision, as shown on the plan entitled “Roadway Acceptance Plan in Holliston, MA” dated October 18, 2001 (revised through December 2002), prepared by Schofield Brothers of New England, Inc., Deer Run (Sta. 0+00 to Sta. 6+77.43) in the Courtland Square Definitive Subdivision as shown on a plan entitled “Acceptance Plan ‘Deer Run’ Holliston, MA” dated September 20, 2011, prepared by GLM Engineering Consultants, Inc., and Indian Ridge Road South (Station 0+25 to 10+51.55) in the Clearview Estates II Subdivision as shown on the plan entitled “Street Acceptance Indian Ridge South (formerly James Road) Clearview Estates II in Holliston, MA” dated March 13, 2014, prepared by Guerriere & Halnon, Inc. such ways having been laid out as Town Ways by the Select Board and will further vote to authorize the Select Board and acquire by donation, purchase or eminent domain, rights sufficient to use Hopping Brook Road, Boynton Road, Deer Run and Indian Ridge Road South all purposed for which public ways are used in the Town of Holliston, or take any action relative thereto.

Before the meeting adjourned, Moderator Mayer commended the Select Board and the Finance Committee on the apparent collaboration that went into creating this Warrant.  He also, noted the extensive work done by Town Administrator Ahern and Town Counsel, Jay Tallerman.

Ben Sparrell, Select Board Clerk, added his thanks to Chief Cassidy, Chris Meo, and James Keast for making it possible for the Meeting to be held safely.

In closing, Chair Cronin again thanked the 80 citizens who braved the conditions to attend and alerted all present that Chief Cassidy would be tracking any COVID cases related to this Meeting (there were none following the July Meeting).

Mr. Mark Ahronian had the honor of making the motion to adjourn the meeting at 1:58 pm.

The Publishers

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