Select Board Puts Finishing Touches on Annual Town Meeting Preparation

Select Board Chair John Cronin called the May 3, 2021 meeting to order at 7:00pm.  The Board put the finishing touches on the plans for the Annual Town Meeting – next Monday; Holliston High School Auditorium; 7:30pm.

Coronavirus Community update

Fire Chief Michael Cassidy updated the Board regarding the COVID pandemic as it relates to Holliston:

  • 15 new cases in the past week
  • Positivity rate continues to decline – and remains below the State average
  • 26 fewer Massachusetts communities are in the Red category – Holliston remains in the Yellow category for the 13th straight week
  • He reminded everyone that the outdoor mask regulations changed last Friday – IF you are outdoors; AND socially distant from non-household members – masks are not required.

Cassidy passed along news from Governor Baker’s press conference on Monday that announced that four of the State’s Mass Vaccination sites (including Natick and Gillette) will be closing by the end of June.  He encouraged Holliston residents and workers to use the Regional Collaborative site in Westborough. Click here -> https://home.color.com/vaccine/register/northborough

CARES Act Programmatic update: Chief Cassidy had no new funding requests to present to the Board.  Below is the total expended / authorized of CARES Act funds allocated to Holliston (there is roughly $500,000 remaining in our Grant).  Town Administrator Ahern added that the Town has received some Unemployment credits from the State for claims that were fraudulently filed earlier in the pandemic.

Warrants – The Board approved the weekly warrant totaling; $675,751.94.

Public Comment  

  • Mr. Cronin:
    • Read a letter of thanks to local tree services who voluntarily did tree pruning along the Rail Trail on Arbor Day.  An excerpt is included here, “The Holliston Rail Committee wishes to acknowledge and thank Tree Specialists, Simkins Tree Service and Stumpy’s Tree Service for donating their time, skill and equipment on Friday, April 30, 2021.  . . .”

Comments from the Town Administrator: Mr. Ahern shared the following with the Board:

  • The Town Hall door replacement is complete – Mr. Cronin thanked the Town Hall employees for their cooperation during the long-awaited project.  Cronin also asked Mr. Ahern to look into the “deluge” that has fallen on those entering the back door in the past.
  • The Upper Town Hall floor project is complete.
  • The contractor for the new well 5 water treatment plant will break ground in mid-May.  The contract calls for completion in 360 days – or less.  DPW Director Sean Reese will be at a future meeting to provide project updates.

Mosquito Spraying Opt-Out Discussion (2021-2022)

A new State Law allows Towns to opt-out of all or part of the annual mosquito spraying program.  There is some interest in such an exemption.  For number of reasons, the Board voted to stay with the program this year and to revisit the issue (with adequate lead time) in 2022.

Approval of Town’s Annual Report – The Board approved the Town’s Annual Report for FY 2020.  Copies will be available at the Town Meeting and, soon on the Town’s website.

Final FY22 Budget vs. Revenue Discussion

The final information about the Budget and Town Meeting Warrant (and supporting documents) can be found here -> https://www.townofholliston.us/home/news/annual-town-meeting-may-10-2021-at-730pm

Town Meeting Discussion

  • Warrant and supplemental information (see above link) Mr. Cronin complimented Mr. Ahern on his thorough and competent preparation of the annual budget and Town Meeting Warrant.
  • There are 37 articles on the Warrant – NONE of the articles is directly related to the 555 Hopping Brook project.
  • Logistics discussion – Chief Cassidy reviewed the safety precautions in place for next Monday’s Town Meeting.  They are exactly the same as the December Town Meeting – one-way entering and exiting.  152 socially distant seats will be available in the Auditorium, 133 socially distant seats will handle overflow in the Cafeteria, the Field House will hold any excess beyond those two locations.  Registered voters wanting to speak will need to do so in the Auditorium.  Unregistered voters can watch the meeting in the high school library.  Face coverings must be worn at all times at the meeting.

Board Business: 

  • The Board approved the use of Holliston roads for the ALS TDI TRI-STATE BIKE TREK on Saturday June 26th.
  • The Board approved the minutes from the April 12, 2021 meeting.
  • The Board approved the display of the Pride Flag on the Town Hall during Pride Month which is June.

Barbara Fritts-Worby (below) spoke in support of the item as a representative of Diverse Holliston.  She wants Holliston to be known for inclusivity and to acknowledge all people, “we see you and you matter.”  She raised her concern for the increase in violence against members of the LGBTQ community. She reminded everyone that hate should have no home here.

Andres Vargas (left) and Lina Giraldo (right) supported the measure saying that the symbol creates unity and is an opportunity for conversation for us and our children.

  • The Board authorized Mr. Ahern to execute an easement with Verizon at 784 Central Street Well #5
  • The Board accepted an unrestricted donation of $70.00 to HFD from a South Street resident

Other Business:

Mr. Cronin asked for an update on the Marshall Street Solar Project. Mr. Ahern briefly reported that the lease agreement will be signed in May.  Eversource is still reviewing the project.

Reminder: Holliston Town Meeting, Monday, May 10, 2021, 7:30 pm at the Holliston High School Auditorium.

The meeting adjourned at 8:06pm.

Chris Cain

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