Select Board Meets September 13, 2021

The Holliston Select Board met Monday September 13, 2021 to tackle a very full agenda.  Chair Tina Hein called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm.  With representatives from the Schools administration and School Committee in attendance, Chair Hein moved quickly to the ARPA programmatic update to hear from those representatives about a request for $106,000 to provide educational support following the pandemic’s disruption of learning.

School Superintendent Dr. Susan Kustka (above) provided the Board the background for this one-time request.  Dr. Kustka described the request as helping students “catch up quickly” and settle them back into regular academic progression. This request (highlighted in yellow below) was recommended by the ARPA Steering Group for the Board’s consideration.  Board Clerk John Cronin, who also sits on the ARPA Steering Group, pointed out that this use of funds is exactly the intent of the American Rescue Plan Act.  The Board unanimously approved the request.

While the School department staff and Committee were available, the Board reviewed the Schools’ request of $500,000 for roof top HVAC units that are nearing the end of their useful life.  Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations, Keith Buday (below right) answered the Board’s questions related to the condition of the units, the roofs, and exactly how much the replacement would cost.  The Board’s only outstanding question at the end of the discussion was a more definitive cost and that Facilities Manager James Keast should be involved in nailing down the final cost.

Fire Chief Michael Cassidy picked up with the CARES Act programmatic update.  The Board had asked Cassidy at its last meeting to contact department heads to see if there were any remaining CARES Act requests.  Five requests came in as a result.

The Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) has not yet voted on the Rent / Mortgage relief request so it couldn’t be considered this week by the Board.  The YAC meets next Monday and the Board encouraged that group to consider a request as high as $50,000.  Chief Cassidy pointed out that many other CARES Act financial support tools have recently ended and extra help might be needed.  The Board approved the first four requests totaling $18,070.

The Board directed Chief Cassidy, as Emergency Management Director, to write to the State requesting that the “beneficial use” of Holliston’s CARES Act funds extend through December 31, 2021.

Warrants The Board approved the weekly warrant of $682,484.20.

Public Comment

Mrs. Hein received the bouquet of flowers on the occasion of her birthday.  Many numbers were mentioned during the ensuing conversation.  Was there an age specified – not that these old ears picked up.

  • Mr. Cronin: Commended Legion Post 47 and Commander Steve Bradford for the annual 9/11 awards ceremony that recognized several of Holliston’s Finest and Bravest for their life saving efforts during the past year.
  • Mr. Sparrell: None
  • Mrs. Hein: Echoed Mr. Cronin’s comments about the awards ceremony, especially calling out Senate President Spilka and Representative Carolyn Dykema for their participation in the very meaningful event.
  • Public: None

Comments from Town Administrator:

  • The Holliston Dams Working Group has met – focus is on three dams (Houghton, Factory, and Winthrop), next step is to conduct a cost/benefit analysis about the three possible actions for each dam: Remove, Breech, or Repair.
  • On Wednesday, September 29, 2021, Town Counsel Jay Talerman will be presenting a workshop for Town Board / Committee members.  The meeting time, and attendance arrangements – it will be available via Zoom – will be shared soon.  Open meeting law, etc. will be topics of discussion.
  • The engineering firm conducting the DPW facility feasibility study has begun work with a “very successful kick-off meeting.”  The report will be completed by February 2022.
  • Stantec engineering will present its finished water and sidewalk studies to the Select Board at its September 27, 2021 meeting.

Fall Town Meeting – Warrant Development Discussion:

  • Capital Request Article – Draft (see below) – The vehicle shown below is the snow/ice brine machine.

Following the Capital Budget discussion, Mr. Ahern presented the current list of probable articles for Fall Town Meeting in October. This is a partial list that does not capture six articles that begin each Town Meeting.

The Board and Mr. Ahern spoke at length about the merits of each probable article. The conversation will continue at next Monday’s Board meeting.

Four things to note:

  1. There will be a Public Hearing at 7:45 next Monday during the Select Board meeting regarding the Road Acceptance article.
  2. The citizens petition regarding Critical Race Theory does have sufficient signatures into the Town Clerk.  There is a possibility that this article will be handled in a separate Special Town Meeting.
  3. The deadline for submitting petitions / articles is Monday, September 20, 2021 at 4:00pm.  All paperwork must be into Mr. Ahern by that time.
  4. The Board approved the Planning Board’s submission of an Article for Fall Town Meeting – this vote complies with MGL and Town By-laws.

Board Business:

  • Approved minutes from July 26, 2021, August 16, 2021, August 26, 2021 meetings.
  • Driveway widening Maple Dell Lane.  Resident Julie DiCicco spoke about the request.  The Board approved the request for a 20-foot driveway.
  • Proclamation – Citizens of the Year- The Board proclaimed September 18, 2021 as Heather Scaringella and Paul Saulnier Day in Holliston
  • Appointed Shaw Lively & Carrie Marsh-Loscocco to the Open Space Committee, terms to expire in 2022
  • Approved a One Day Beer & Wine License for Arcadian Farms on 09/18/21 from 12-4pm

Other Business:

Mrs. Hein asked Mr. Ahern to bring to next Monday’s meeting the license fee relief language that the Board approved earlier for an updated discussion.

The public meeting adjourned to Exec Session at 9:51pm

Chris Cain

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