Select Board: July 26, 2021 Meeting

The Holliston Select Board began its July 26, 2021, meeting at 7:00pm.  The meeting was called to order by Chair Tina Hein who noted that Ben Sparrell was absent from this meeting.  Some residents joined the meeting via Zoom after experiencing some audio difficulties with the HCAT broadcast.  HCAT is working with Verizon to repair this week-long disruption.

CARES Act / ARPA Programmatic update

Holliston’s Information Technology Director Chris Meo (right above) updated the Board on the five mobile meeting set-ups purchased with CARES Act funds.  Two units are in Town Hall, one at the Library, one at 1750 Washington Street, and one at the Senior Center.  Mr. Meo will be conducting training on how the units work so that more self-administered Zoom meetings can be conducted by Town Boards and Committees.  The improved audio and video quality has been evident during the past two Select Board meetings.

It wouldn’t be a CARES / ARPA update without Fire Chief Michael Cassidy.  Chief Cassidy joined the discussion to discuss steps he and Mr. Ahern to help Holliston entities apply for ARPA funds.  The first application deadline is NEXT Monday, August 2nd.

Mr. Ahern and the Chief plan to produce an informative video that will be posted on the new ARPA Steering Group page which is now listed with other Town Boards and Committees.

ARPA Steering Group | Town of Holliston MA

The goal is to “cast a wide net” to ensure all Holliston entities are heard from and that ideas are shared from town to town.  The Board reminded applicants to be realistic on the application form.

Chief Cassidy and Chair Hein added that Holliston seems to be ahead of other nearby Towns in getting organized to administer the $4.4 Million ARPA grant our Town is receiving.

Mr. Cronin read part of Chief Cassidy’s written update to the Board that stated, “family and friends are the most influential in encouraging vaccine reticent individuals to get vaccinated.”  He encouraged citizens to use that influence for our community’s benefit.

Warrants: The Board approved the weekly warrant of $311,961.41.

Public Comment:

  • Mr. Cronin:
    • Celebrate Holliston committee members will be at next week’s Board meeting to discuss the Town’s upcoming Tricentennial.
    • DPW updates:
      • Central St. Water Treatment Plant is on schedule for Summer 2022 completion,
      • DPW Deputy Director Job will be posted this week,
      • Winter Street water main project on schedule,
      • Exploring the use of brine as a snow removal tool.
  • Mrs. Hein:
    • Met with Rep Dykema last week and discussed:
      • Leveraging Complete Streets and sidewalk study during fall meeting with MassDOT – Rep Dykema pledged full support.
      • As posted earlier, Holliston has received earmarks in the recently passed State budget: $30,000 for the Iraq/Afghanistan monument, $100,000 for Goodwill Park, $250,000 for MetroWest mental health support.
    • There will be no rate increase for Holliston to belong to the MetroWest Regional Collaborative.
    • The Traffic Advisory Committee will update the Board at next Monday’s meeting.
  • Public: None

Assistant Town Administrator (ATA) / HR Director – Search Update

Mrs. Hein reported that the finalist candidate interviewed two weeks ago accepted another offer before Holliston could reel her in.  This points to the competitive market for skilled municipal employees.

Mr. Ahern will repost the job this week and hopes to bring finalist candidate(s) to the Board by early September.

One consideration will be attractive workspace – with confidential employee access – for the new ATA/HR director.  Finance Committee liaison, Jay Robinson asked if there were budget inhibitors in finding the right space.  Mr. Ahern didn’t see that as a problem at this time.  Jay Robinson, the citizen, added that along with speed of selection in this competitive market an appropriate work setting would help attract the best candidate who has both administrator and HR skills.

Comments from Town Administrator:  Mr. Ahern provided the following updates:

  • Three bids were received / opened Monday for the DPW feasibility study to explore possible design / location of a consolidated DPW facility.  Two of the bids are contenders.  Facilities Manager, James Keast will follow up vetting those two.  The study should last less than six months.  Mr. Ahern will update the Board with the selected vendor.
  • The Warrant for the October 18, 2021, Town Meeting will open next Monday, August 2, 2021. 

Board Business:

  • The Board approved the minutes of the June 28, 202,1 meeting.
  • The Board approved the widening of the driveway at 314 Gorwin Drive to 20 feet.
  • The Board appointed Hollistonian Sophia Loricco as an On-call EMT serving on the Holliston Fire Department.

Other Business:

  • Mr. Ahern and Chief Cassidy assured residents that the smoke in the sky is not a local hazard – but rather from the wildfires out west.
  • Mr. Cronin met with the Park Commission and staff last week to discuss how to better maintain park facilities and grounds in the future.  How might that work be reimagined in our near future?  Cronin expressed his great respect for the Commissioners and Staff and is excited to partner with this effort.
  • Mr. Cronin asked Mr. Ahern how the recent rainfall has affected the Town’s dams.  The recent issues have been beaver related not structural integrity.  Mr. Ahern will follow up on the problem.
  • A late request came in last Friday (due mid-day Thursday for inclusion on the published agenda of the next meeting) for a 1-day Beer and Wine license for Crafted at Arcadian Farms’ “Fun Day at the Farm” to be held on Sunday, August 1st from Noon to 4pm.  The Board approved the license as a one-time exception to the normal process.

The meeting adjourned at 8:05pm.

Chris Cain

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