Select Board Holds First Meeting of 2021

The Select Board kicked off 2021 with its weekly meeting on January 4, 2021. Chair John Cronin called the meeting to order and invited Fire Chief Michael Cassidy to provide his COVID update to the Board.

Chief Cassidy reported some additional information:

  • There have been no cases linked to the December 5th Town Meeting (the Board suggested that he share this info with our State legislators)
  • Community spread is occurring in residential neighborhoods – mostly from informal gatherings with the 30-39 age group case count increasing 29% in the most recent data
  • Holliston’s first responders will be eligible to get vaccinated at one of the State sites (TBA) during the week of January 18th.
Holliston’s positivity rate is creeping toward 6%, still below the State average
The vaccine roll out has changed (not yet in print) with those 75+ being earlier in Phase Two
This week’s social media messages.
Chief Cassidy shared some preliminary HFD service stats for the past year. Our Public Safety officials are responding to emergency calls of all kinds.
100 year old news headlines and Mr. Santayana’s quote punctuated Chief Cassidy’s update.

The Board authorized funds not to exceed $14,400 to rent additional electronic sign boards to take the Stop the Spread message more broadly around town – including residential neighborhoods. The Board feels that urgent action is needed to overcome ‘COVID fatigue’ and keep our community as healthy as possible.

CARES Act Programmatic update: Chief Cassidy had no requests for CARES Act funds. He is aware of some departments and committees who are working on requests for future submission.

Warrants: The Board approved the weekly warrant of $1,385,648.91

Public Comment:

  • Mr. Sparrell:
    • Happy New Year
    • The speed limit is 25 mph UNLESS already posted otherwise (there are 16 streets in Town that are greater than 25 mph)
  • Mrs. Hein:
    • Citizens may petition the Traffic Advisory Committee to change posted speed limits
    • The goal is to make Holliston’s roadways safer for ALL users
  • Mr. Cronin:
    • The Board has a very busy January of work
    • The FY 22 budget planning is starting
  • Public: None

Comments from Town Administrator:

Mr. Ahern shared the following:

  • Currently there are five open full-time positions – these are posted on the MA Municipal Association website and on Holliston’s website ->Job Opportunities | Town of Holliston MA
  • The Board’s Public Hearing for the Marshall Street Solar Project will be held on Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 6:30pm. Representatives from SolSystems, the project consultants will be on hand to answer questions.
  • Mr. Ahern and DPW Director Sean Reese met with StanTec regarding the sidewalk and water studies approved at December’s Town Meeting
  • Following up on the truck vs. wires issue on Regal Street last week. Contacted the business involved with the truck and is awaiting information from Verizon and MassDOT.
  • The Request for Quotes for the Town’s approved traffic studies is posted on the Town’s website -> traffic_engineering_studies_-_quotes_-_holliston_12520-15.pdf (townofholliston.us)

The Board opened the May 10, 2021 Annual Town Meeting Warrant. The Warrant will close it on March 29, 2021. The form for submitting an article for consideration is found here -> https://www.townofholliston.us/sites/g/files/vyhlif706/f/file/file/town_meeting_article_form_and_petition.pdf

Bobby Blair – Farmers Market discussion at Blair Square:

The Mayor arrives with his ideas on paper.

Bobby Blair brought his idea for a Holliston Farmers’ Market to the Board. As a local farmer, who better than The Mayor to champion such an endeavor. The rough outline of the planning to date is as follows:

  • Market opens on June 20th and runs to the middle of October
  • The Market would open Sundays from 9am – 1pm
  • Blair Square would be the location
  • Bobby got input from a wide range of stakeholders who are almost universally in support of the idea

The Board members each expressed their strong support for the concept. They asked Bobby to do more detailed planning, especially with regard to: traffic/parking, trash, sanitation facilities, balance with Sunday morning trail users, and how the Market and monies would be managed.

Matt Coletti, representing the Economic Development Committee, offered to partner with Mayor Blair to work out the details of his popular idea.

Stay tuned for more updates on the Holliston Farmers’ Market in the future.

Board Business:

  • Natural Gas Contract – Similar to the new contract for electrical generation costs, the Town is in the market for a new contract for natural gas production. Facilities Manager James Keast (below) presented his recommendation to the Board using the spreadsheet further below.

The Board authorized that a 18-month fixed rate contract be signed with UGI Energy – with a savings of more than $10,000 during the contract period. This contract is for Town buildings only. The Schools gas contract will have a similar review when it is up for renewal. The Board asked that Mr. Keast and Sustainability Coordinator Matt Zettek explore similar savings for Holliston’s residential gas customers.

  • The Board approved the December 14, 2020 Meeting Minutes
  • Chair Cronin outlined the Town Administrator evaluation process that will be completed in January
  • The Board received a $100 donation for the Fire Department from a Fieldstone resident
  • The Board received a $100.00 donation for the Senior Center from Diane Keeley

Other Business:

  • Mr. Sparrell: Alerted his colleagues that the Q2 Select Board update is in the works.
  • Mrs. Hein: Asked for volunteer help to populate the various travel apps with our new 25 mph speed limits – where applicable
  • Mr. Cronin: The sign boards and distribution plan regarding COVID messaging is in the works.

The meeting adjourned to Executive Session at 8:26 pm.

Chris Cain

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