Select Board Covers A Lot of Ground

The Select Board made up for not having a meeting last week by covering a very robust agenda at their September 16, 2021 meeting. Chair Tina Hein called the meeting to order at 7:00pm.

HPD Officer candidate Guillermo Palencia (right) was introduced to the Board by Lieutenants Thompson and Leurini.  Mr. Palencia has passed a series of interviews within HPD, passed a background check that led to his interview by the Board.  Mr. Palencia provided a little background about his training and experience as a police officer – most recently at Tufts University.  He hopes to give back to the community, and as a new dad, he is sees it as an honor and privilege to keep others safe.

The Board approved his appointment as an HPD Patrol Officer, and he was told to report to Roll Call at 0700 Tuesday (today!).  He will be sworn in by the Town Clerk later on Tuesday.

Sidewalk Study Findings – Stantec

William Scarpati (below right) and Victor Vega presented the findings of the Stantec Sidewalk Study approved at Town Meeting.

This image captures the essence of the report.  Levels and iPads captured relevant data to produce the findings Mr. Scarpati and Mr. Vega presented to the Board.

Some of the slides are captured here. The entire draft report can be viewed here->

The first aspect of the report was accessibility of the Town’s sidewalks.  Accessibility includes sidewalk width, ramps (at a specified slope), and a safe area to exit the ramp.

The study covered all 50 miles of sidewalks in town – all but 1.8 miles (State highway) are owned by the Town.  The Stantec representatives commended the Town for having such an extensive grid of sidewalks. 

GIS (Geographic Information System) data is a universal format for locating fixed points.  The Town will be able to integrate these GIS data with other GIS it already has and will get in the future.

Mrs. Hein pointed out the Town’s work with the Complete Streets program will be another source of GIS data and potentially funding to make improvements.

A point of clarification, the areas in yellow / orange are zoned a ‘schools’ even though another type of structure is located there.

Replacement in this study includes ADA compliance and sidewalk condition.

This staggering figure is to repair ALL the sidewalks that don’t meet standards along with the cost for each type of material. Bituminous Asphalt, Portland Cement, Brick, or combos.

This graphic shows what the annual cost would be to just maintain the current condition of our sidewalks – or 69.% on the SCI scale.

This image shows where new sidewalks could be added.  Mr. Cronin expressed his disappointment that this section did not fully connect the neighborhood “islands” that currently exist.

The Board asked Town Administrator Ahern and DPW Director Reese to follow up with Stantec to update this draft with the requested information.  No action was taken on the above recommendations.

Lincoln Liquors Management Change

At 8:15pm the Board opened a Public Hearing related to a change in managers at Lincoln Liquors.  The Board met Nicole Kanengeiser via Zoom who will be the new manager.  The Board approved the transfer.  The Public Hearing was closed at 8:19pm.

CARES Act / ARPA Programmatic update

It seemed like déjà vu all over again.  Emergency Management Director Chief Michael Cassidy provided stats on  Holliston’s COVID case count:

  • 21 active:
    • 2 single cases at multi-family dwellings
    • 3 clusters at single family homes
    • 12 single cases at single family homes
  • 2.96% positivity  
  • 83.86% of our community partially vaccinated
  • 77.54% of our community fully vaccinated

Cassidy also shared that the Board of Health is meeting this Thursday to discuss what, if any action should be recommended for the Town.  The Chief reported that staff in some locations (Y&FS, Library, Sr. Ctr.) that have interaction with vulnerable populations are voluntarily wearing masks.  The School Committee has yet to determine a mask policy for the coming year.  He sees no reason at this time for the Town to impose mask requirements in all public buildings.

ARPA Steering Group – recommendations

  • All Day K (at no cost to parents) – Schools Request

The entire presentation was made to the ARPA Steering Group last Wednesday and is captured here ->

Chief Cassidy pointed out that this request fits squarely into the disparate impact of the pandemic on learning category in the ARPA guidelines.  Superintendent Dr. Susan Kustka (below left) and School Committee Chair Mrs. Cynthia Listewnik reinforced that this request is all about equity for Holliston’s learners.

The approved the request for $650,000 dollars for the 2021-2022 school year.  Mrs. Hein said this was a “brave and bold” move on behalf of our students.

  • Viewpoint Video Program –

Town Administrator Ahern made the request for $27,900 as the Town’s share of a production that highlights Holliston’s recreation and business community.  The short (few minutes) video product – along with all the unused video – belongs to the Town.  The Town will have input regarding content.  Mr. Ahern’s hope that quick action by Holliston will allow filming to start soon with the entire project to take 90 – 120 days.  Chief Cassidy noted that this request falls in the ‘Support immediate economic stabilization’ section of ARPA guidelines.

The Board approved this request.  Mr. Ahern shared that the Town has in its bank account $781,490 as the first ARPA grant.

Warrants – The Board approved the weekly warrant totaling: $3,017,800.22

Public Comment:

  • Mr. Cronin: Two updates
    • Met with HPD Chief Stone and Officer Charette regarding a privately funded community resource dog.  Chief Stone will make a formal presentation at a later date.
    • Met with Park & Rec, DPW, Facilities to discuss decoupling park maintenance from the Parks dept.  The goal is to have a better system perhaps as early as FY 23.
  • Mr. Sparrell: Two updates
    • Blair Square committee has a detailed design that is about 90% ready.  The goal is to have finished proposal for the Fall Town Meeting.
  • Mrs. Hein:  Reminded everyone that next week’s Select Board meeting will be held on THURSDAY August 26th.
  • Public: None

Comments from Town Administrator:

  • The Cable Access Committee is meeting this Wednesday.  The contract is moving from Verizon to Comcast.
  • The Asst Town Administrator (ATA) posting closes this Wednesday.  Mr. Ahern plans the same selection committee and process used during the last ATA interviews. He hopes to have the new ATA on board by early October.
  • The Technical Assistance Bureau report should be into the Town before the Fall Town Meeting.  The report will be shared with the Governance Committee.
  • A letter requesting the $100,000 earmarked in the State budget for Goodwill Park improvements will be sent to the State on Tuesday.
  • Ahern has asked the Conservation Commission to review the reports coming in related to the Town’s dams.
  • The American Legion will hold its annual 9/11 Heroism Awards on Sunday September 12th at the Senior Center.

Discussion Financial Policies

The Board reviewed the updates to policies proposed by the Town Administrator, Treasurer/Collector, and Accountant.  There were no questions on the revised text.  Mr. Ahern mentioned that these policies are routinely reviewed / updated every two years.  The Select Board approved the content of the revised policies.  The policies will be reviewed by the Finance Committee at its Tuesday meeting.

Board Business:

  • Approved Minutes July 6, 202, and July 19, 2021 meetings
  • Awarded the $75,000 DPW Facility Feasibility Study Contract to Weston & Sampson Engineering.  Mr. Keast expects the work to begin this week and be wrapped up in five months.
  • Approved the Celebrate Holliston event permit 9/18/21 that will close Central Street from 7:30 am to 3:00 pm that day – plan accordingly
  • Approved the date change request Farmers’ Market Permit (change to 9/18/21)
  • Approved the Senior Center Fall Fair Event permit to be held on September 11, 2021, from 9am-3 pm
  • Accepted a $500 donation to the Senior Center from Tiberio Charitable Foundation

Other Business:

  • Mrs. Hein asked her colleagues if having a Town Engineer would be an advantage when applying for future Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) grants.  Just something to ponder for the future.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:34pm with a reminder about next week’s meeting on Thursday, August 26th.

Chris Cain


  1. Shaw Lively on August 17, 2021 at 7:31 am

    Regarding new sidewalks: extending sidewalk access to Patoma Park would greatly improve safety for bicyclists and walkers using the tennis and basketball courts, and provide access to Stoddard Park through the connecting trails.

  2. Max Emery on August 17, 2021 at 9:20 pm

    Why don’t we fix the sidewalks we have before we start building new ones. Anyone try walking a baby stroller down Washington St.. good luck don’t bring a hot coffee with you.

  3. David Dysert on August 18, 2021 at 11:26 am

    I think Shaw Lively’s idea is terrific. Fixing the worst sidewalks should be done, but shouldn’t have to exclude a really useful proposal that would greatly enhance access and safety to and from Patoma.

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