Holliston Select Board Meets

The Monday, January 11, 2021 meeting of the Holliston Select Board convened at 6:30 pm to discuss a wide range of Town business.  Emergency Management Director, Fire Chief Michael Cassidy led off with the weekly COVID update.

Chief Cassidy provided the following information:

  • Joining Cassidy for this week’s briefing was HFD EMT Paul Coffey, a member of the department since 1992, who serves as Asst. Emergency Management Director (he’s pictured below at the top right)
  • Holliston’s positivity rate is above 6% and below the Statewide average of nearly 8%.
  • This week’s social message is seen below.

The vaccine rollout in MA has been updated to reflect last week’s update to move those over 75 and /or those with 2 or more comorbidities to the Phase 2 part 1 which begins next month.

First Responders became eligible for vaccination on Monday.  Below is a map of vaccine centers available to Holliston’s First Responders:  Marlboro, Newton, and Worcester (green circles).

  • Cassidy added that in the past 2 weeks, more Ambulance calls have involved COVID-related patients.  This is higher than any time so far in the pandemic.
  • Ambulance crews are waiting longer at the ER for patient intake
  • The following quote was shared, “It’s the 4th quarter, keep our guard up – don’t be ‘that guy’ who lets the team down”
  • Since March the message remains: wear a mask, maintain distance, wash, stay home when possible.
  • Room air purifiers were installed in Town offices and Schools this past weekend.

CARES Act Programmatic update:

The Board approved the following requests, with the following changes:

  • Schools – An amount not to exceed $15,000 to acquire testing equipment and supplies.  This more flexible approach was supported by Superintendent Dr. Kustka as part of the Schools’ multi-layered approach to COVID testing.
  • Board of Health – The Board approved the request and asked that the Board look ahead to project funding needs through the end of FY 21.
  • Council on Aging – The Board approved the request for supplies and authorized CARES Act funds be used to reimburse the Town’s budget for the meal delivery costs.
Superintendent Dr. Susan Kustka

Warrants: The Board approved the weekly warrant of $1,136,362.40.

Public Comment:

  • Mr. Sparrell: None
  • Mrs. Hein: Will be attending an upcoming webinar on municipal finance
  • Mr. Cronin: The Town Clerk announces that Nomination forms for the May 25, 2021 Town Election will be available February 1st.  Cronin encouraged citizens to consider serving the Town as he plans to do in his upcoming re-election bid.
  • Public: None

Comments from Town Administrator:

  • Several bid requests are now open on the Town website, specifically the Traffic studies RFQ closes on January 24, 2021
  • Mr. Ahern distributed a survey, on behalf of the Stipend Committee, to 14 similar Towns. The survey received compliments from the respondents (who will be receiving the summarized survey data).  The Board is looking for an end of January update from the Committee
  • The State legislature has passed the Economic Development Fund – awaiting Governor’s signature
  • Holliston’s application for the State Local Rapid Recovery Program has been unofficially approved.  “The LRRP program provides technical assistance by consultant teams with expertise in effective strategies to stabilize business districts.”
  • Ahern provided a mid—year update on the Town’s finances.  There was a lot of numbers shared – bottom line we’re in good shape.

Rail Trail – License & Encroachment Discussion

  • Robert Weidknecht (below), Chair of the Holliston Trails Committee, met with the Board to answer questions from the Board regarding annual licensing for users of space within the Town’s trail right-of-way.  The Board approved the sending of a license agreement letter to 10 commercial properties that use space within the right-of-way.
  • The Board discussed with Weidknecht a draft letter to residential property owners that abut the right-of-way.  No residential encroachment onto the right-of-way is allowed by the Town’s agreement with the previous track owner, CSX.  Further work on the letter, including Town Counsel input, and language from State law is forthcoming.

Mass Trails Grant Application

The Board approved a letter authorizing the Trail Committee to apply for a $30,000 grant to install drainage pipe along the trail just east of Phipps Tunnel.

Update on DPW Infrastructure Studies (Ben Sparrell):

Mr. Sparrell provided these updates following a meeting with Stantec, an international professional services corporation.

  • All reports will be in electronic format for ease of updating Town systems
  • Ideally, the sidewalk inventory work will be completed in time for action at Spring Town Meeting
  • Water studies will take longer
  • All reports will be written such that lay people can act upon them
  • The contract should be sent to the Town this week.
  • Work could start around February 1, 2021

*** POSTPONED – Marshall Street Solar Project Public Hearing (postponed to Thursday 1-21-21)

Metro-West Regional Solar & Clean Heat Challenge Program

  • Holliston, and the neighboring Towns of Ashland, Natick, and Framingham are entering into a mutual agreement to work together to leverage a mass purchasing agreement as we pursue qualified / recommended vendors for Solar and Heating.
  • There is no cost to the Town.
  • Sustainability Coordinator, Matt Zettek will be Holliston’s point person in this coalition.
  • Rich Rosenberry and Joan Levinsohn (below) have volunteered – along with Utah Nickel – to support Matt’s work
  • The Board approved Holliston’s joining of the coalition.

Board Business:  The Board accepted the following:

  • A $500 gift to HFD from Carl Street residents
  • A $2,500 grant to HFD / Holliston Emergency Management from MEMA

Other Business:

  • Mr. Sparrell:  None
  • Mrs. Hein:
    • Asked Mr. Ahern to make sure Holliston DPW input is available for next week’s Front Street Forum
    • Asked Mr. Ahern to obtain an update on the Complete Streets survey input
  • Mr. Cronin:
    • Asked Holliston residents to listen to the COVID updates and make safe choices.
    • The Board approved a letter to our Federal legislators and signed by the Board, School Committee, and Finance Committee, requesting more aid for States and Municipalities in any future COVID relief packages.

The meeting adjourned at 8:35 pm. The Board will next meet on Tuesday, January 19th.

Chris Cain

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