Select Board – March 15, 2021

Monday, March 15, 2021 was another busy night for the Holliston Select Board. Chair, John Cronin opened the meeting with a review of a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the DPW union employees.  The Board accepted the terms of the 3-year agreement with the Laborer’s International Union of North America – LIUNA Local 272.  The contract runs through FY 24 and was characterized by Town Administrator Ahern as, “a great deal for the Town and DPW workers.”  The members of the Board signed the agreement.

Coronavirus Community Update

Chief Michael Cassidy mixed it up for this week’s COVID update.  He looked back 370 days and reviewed important milestones and data during those days.  He shared a tremendous amount of information and recognized the efforts of the many Town employees (too numerous to list here) and citizens who have stepped up to meet the challenge of the pandemic.  Below is a summary of his presentation.  The entire presentation can be viewed here ->

  • March 10, 2020; Gov Baker declares MA State of Emergency
  • March 16, 2020; Holliston Select Board declares Town-wide State of Emergency authorizing Chief Cassidy to execute necessary emergency actions. One of the first towns in MA to do so.
  • March 20, 2020; Holliston’s first confirmed case of COVID-19
  • March 29, 2020; Holliston’s first confirmed COVID fatality
  • May – Dec. 2020; Town safely conducts elections and Town Meetings in accordance with COVID guidelines
  • December 2020; 1st COVID vaccine receives Emergency Use Authorization

Holliston by the numbers:

  • 90% of those 75 and older have been vaccinated
  • 66% of those 65 -74 have been vaccinated (Cassidy called out the Council on Aging’s assistance)
This amount does not include monies received by the Schools from other sources.

Chief Cassidy pointed to three areas where the Town shined:

  1. Personal Protective Equipment – At the start of the pandemic many businesses and citizens donated masks to our first repsonders.  We currently have a “very comfortable stockpile,” Cassidy reported.
  2. Telework Capacity – Town employees embraced telework to ‘continue to do the work of the community,’ with minimal disruption.  This was enabled by IT Director, Chris Meo.
  3. Cleaning and Disinfecting – Building modifications (temporary and permanent) along with air handling and purifying equipment upgrades. Facilities Manager, James Keast was instrumental in this area.

The Chief highlighted the reality that while the pandemic has been in our lives, Holliston’s first responders have maintained our public safety.

Often in such a review; Issues raised, Successes realized, and what’s to come are areas of reflection.

  • Issues:
    • Supply chain for PPE and Vaccines
    • Information sharing – what could be shared and when
    • COVID fatigue
  • Successes:
    • Education and Outreach using social media, media, and electronic signage
    • Resiliency of the community members and businesses
    • Schools – embracing the hybrid model that continues to be effective
  • To Come:
    • Expending the remaining CARES Act funds
    • Re-opening – not all sectors move as quickly / completely
    • American Rescue Plan prospects
    • Remaining on guard with public health measures as variants spread

The weekly numbers:

  • 17 new cases reported this week
  • Those cases are at 12 new locations – all single family homes
  • The Town remains in the Yellow category with a positivity rate of 2.08%

Holliston is part of an 8-community regional collaborative.  The collaborative has been approved by the State Dept of Public Health to administer vaccines.  There are currently NO vaccines allocated to this collaborative – stay tuned.

CARES Act Programmatic Update:  No requests were presented to the Board for action.

Warrants: The Board approved the weekly total of $1,959,344.30.

Public Comment:

  • Mrs. Hein – Highlighted a new bicycle safety program be offered for 2 – 5 year old riders by the Park and Rec Department.  Information on this and all the Spring and Summer programs can be found here->

Blair Square Veterans’ Memorial

Walter McGrath(above), speaking on behalf of Holliston’s VFW and American Legion, requested that the Board approve the relocation of the veterans’ memorial at Blair Square.  The new location would provide: a larger space, a quieter more serene space, and allow construction to start sooner than the overall Blair Square project.  McGrath added that this memorial would honor Iraq and Afghanistan vets.  The memorial will be erected by the vets and rely on funds raised by the vets.  Some electrical work will be involved to ensure that the flags are illuminated.

The Board approved the request to relocate the memorial.

Front Street –

The Board voted to make permanent the one-way flow of traffic on Front Street between Central and Vine Streets.  The image below approximately illustrates where diagonal parking will be installed – leaving adequate greenspace for the Blair Square development.

HPD – Policies and Procedures Review

HPD Chief Stone and Lieutenants Leurini and Thompson updated the Board on how the Holliston Police are embedding the reforms from the recently passed Police Reform legislation.  Stone and his Lieutenants fully support the guidance in the new legislation.  Much of the impact on HPD policies has been ‘simple pronoun changes’ to existing HPD procedures.  The recent reaccreditation of HPD by the Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association gives the department a leg up with implementation of the new law.   While many of the requirements are already part of the departments standard operating procedures, the appointment of Detective McGuire as HPD’s Civil Rights Officer is a recent change.  From the discussion, the Board feels that HPD is positioned well to enact all aspects of the new legislation.

Comments from the Town Administrator:

  • Next week, Mr. Ahern will present the new Senior Center Director, Lisa Borchetta, to the Board and community.
  • Mr. Ahern is providing supplemental information to MassDOT to complete the approval of the Heavy Commercial Vehicle Exclusion (HCVE) for Woodland Street.  Final approval is expected in a matter of weeks.
  • The Town’s traffic engineering study is collecting data to prepare a submission for an HCVE on South Street.  The process is expected to take several months.
  • The relevant Town agencies have requested funds from the State that were mentioned last week by Senator Spilka and Representative Dykema
  • CRG Integrated Real Estate Solutions will be invited to present to the Board at an upcoming meeting.  Mr. Ahern reminded everyone that all documents related to the 555 Hopping Brook project are on the Town’s website ->  It is possible for citizens to sign up for automated updates anytime new information is posted on this page.

FY22 Budget and Revenue Summary – Mr. Ahern noted that the current revenue and expense projections for FY22 are very close.

  • Revisit any previously reviewed budgets;
    • The Board approved a reduced Facilities budget of $272,291.  (The change is due to moving cleaning costs to CARES Act reimbursement.)
    • The Board approved a reconfigured Economic Development Committee budget.  (The total budget did not change – funds were moved from one line to another.)

Annual Town Meeting – Warrant Discussion

Town Administrator Ahern reviewed the current list of potential articles for the May 10, 2021 Town Meeting (see below).

Ahern reminded everyone that the Warrant closes on Monday, March 29, 2021 at 4:00pm.  The citizen petition for an article can be found here (and completed / sent electronically) – >

Board Business: The Board took the following actions:

  • Approved Minutes February 25, 2021 Meeting
  • Approved the Rain Barrel program for 2021. Mrs. Hein noted that the cost has gone down for rain barrels. Mr. Sparrell added that the Black Earth curbside composting service has donated 5 yards of compost to the Community Farm.
  • Approved the Farmers’ Market License as corrected
  • Appointed Ellen George as a Registrar for a 3-year term through April 2024
  • Approved One-day Beer License- Historical Society June 20, 2021 noon to 8:00 p.m.; Zelus Beer Company – as long as the event is in compliance with ALL State COVID limitations / requirements

Other Business:

Mr. Cronin asked that the appointment of a screening committee for the Town’s upcoming Tricentennial by placed on a future Board agenda.

The meeting adjourned at 9:58pm.

Chris Cain


  1. Daniel Alfred on March 16, 2021 at 7:48 am

    New Host Community Agreement (HCA) with HighMark Provisions – while it appears to be omitted from the meeting review above, the Select Board heard a detailed presentation last night from HighMark executives seeking to enter into an HCA with the town for a new recreational cannibis growing facility (NO RETAIL) to be located at 201 Summer Street. I want to applaud the Select Board on voting to authorize the Town Administrator and Town Council to negotiate an HCA (which will be subject to a final vote by the Select Board). While this is not Holliston’s first HCA with a cannibis grower, I think that these are very good opportunities for Holliston to generate incremental (non-residential) tax revenue with only minimal impact to the Town itself. The facility will have significant security and only 5-8 employees on site at first growing to up to 40 over 5 years and will only be operated 7am-7pm. While it sounded like this is the first facility for this company, they had an experienced team behind them and start-up capital raised with what appeared to be a fairly well thought out business and financial model. While the projected payments to Holliston of $1.7 million over the first 5 years (subject to HCA) may or may not be feasible as it depends on numerous factors, I believe that the payments will be significant and are also in addition to the property taxes paid by the land-lord. Great to see Holliston and the Select Board remain open minded towards new cultivators in town.

    • Chris Cain on March 16, 2021 at 8:13 am

      Dan – Good catch. I had a great summary of the HighMark presentation in my notes and at 11:30 last night I missed it when I cut and pasted into the website. Of course I deleted my notes as I shut down my computer! Thanks for getting it into the report. Chris

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