Select Board Meets November 1, 2021

Select Board Chair Tina Hein opened the November 1, 2021 at 7:03pm.  She alluded to a very full agenda and that some items would be taken out of order to make the best use of everyone’s time.

Hein began by reading the following statement from the Select Board.

Mrs. Hein committed the Select Board to following up in support of the school community’s efforts to continue conversations to building bridges.

Discussion of Policy for Municipal-owned Cameras

Chiefs Michael Cassidy and Matthew Stone presented the policy developed for the responsible use of video cameras to monitor traffic moving through the downtown intersections.  Sections 1 and 2 of the policy are shown below.

Chief Stone (above left) and Chief Cassidy (above right) were joined by IT Director Chris Meo (above center) answered questions from the Board. Chief Stone reported that in seeking other such policies across the Commonwealth, he and Town Counsel found very few examples of such policies.  Stone also shared that HPD other existing policies cover similar content.  Both Chiefs stressed that these are not ‘red light’ cameras (such use is banned in MA), but rather these are traffic management tools.  Mr. Meo was in the discussion as he would assist the public safety officials in properly using data captured by the cameras.  No one will be able to edit / alter the data and it will contain raw video images only.

Chief Cassidy shared that he has long understood that public safety professionals “do the right things.”  He went on to state the current perception of public safety has led to such policies to bolster public trust.

The Board unanimously accepted the Policy, thanking the drafters for their excellent work.  The next step will be to solicit bids for the cameras, installation, and storage.  The Chiefs anticipate a few months to complete the process.

ARPA Programmatic update / COVID-19 Community Update

Chief Cassidy returned to provide the weekly update:

  • 16 active cases (with a couple of breakthrough cases)
  • Holliston remains in the Yellow category on the State’s infection scale.
  • He is closely watching the approval process for vaccines for 5 – 11 year-olds.
  • People should be sure to get the ‘regular’ flu shot (see below)
  • While the numbers are small, we should remain vigilant with our precautions.

There were no CARES Act or ARPA requests or updates this week.

The Board asked Chief Cassidy to present a form of decision matrix / timeline regarding: what vaccines are available, to whom, when available, and where available.

Finance Policy Discussion

Mr. Ahern updated the Finance Policy based on the October 4, 2021 discussion with the Finance Committee.  No specific feedback has been received by Mr. Ahern yet.  He offered that the discussion could be deferred to another date due to the meaty agenda ahead.  Members of the Board weighed in with a request to add more actuarial data to bolster the final version of the policy.  The Board tabled the matter for future action and thanked Mr. Ahern for his work on this important document.

HCA Transfer Request for 29 Everett Road – from New England Cannabis to 4 Front NECC Acquisition Co.

Mr. Ken Stevens (below left), CEO of New England Cannabis Corp (NECC) began the conversation be bringing the Board up to date on the status of NECC’s operation in Holliston and the terms of its Host Community Agreement (HCA) with the Town.

Mr. Arthur Thut (below right), Chief Investment Officer of 4 Front explained his company’s plan to acquire the operations and assets of NECC as a division of 4 Front.  4 Front has been in the cannabis business in MA for seven years and is looking to build up a wholesale operation in Holliston.

Holliston Town Counsel Kate Feodoroff (above) explained how the transfer could happen.  If the HCA is transferred completely, 4 Front assumes all the responsibility for making five years of payments following the beginning of licensed production (NECC currently has a provisional license).

4 Front Chief Operating Officer Joe Feltham projects that the Holliston operation would have wholesale revenue in the neighborhood of $25 M / year.  4 Fronts’ Legal Counsel Kevin Conroy confirmed the company’s understanding of the existing HCA and that 4 Front is ready to assume the Agreement.

Warrants The Board approved the weekly warrant of $1,004,974.34.

Public Comment:

  • Mr. Cronin:
    • The town-wide fields / grounds maintenance working group held its third meeting last week and is making “excellent progress.”  Their goal is to “make it better.”
  • The Holliston Lions Club will hold a holiday tree lighting at Blair Square on November 27th
  • Nov. 20 Flu Clinic
  • Mr. Sparrell:
    • The Community Farm Haunted Walk was rained out.  It is now scheduled for November 6, 2021 from 5-9 pm at the Community Farm on Rogers Road.
  • Mrs. Hein:
    • Attended a meeting of the MetroWest Regional Collaborative
    • Meeting with representatives from the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization this week regarding the State’s Transportation Improvement Plan.
  • Public: None

Comments from Town Administrator:

  • Robert Walker, Interim Deputy DPW Director and Kathleen Buckley, Asst. Town Administrator / Human Resources Director started their new jobs on Monday, November 1stWelcome to your new roles.  Best wishes for success
  • Stantec reports will be on the Board’s agenda as soon as they are completed.
  • The Select Board will NOT meet on Monday, December 27, 2021
  • The construction noise on Marshall St. is from a private enterprise’s construction – not the Solar project

Board Business: The Board took the following actions:

  • Authorized the Town Administrator to execute a Contract for the Fire/EMS Organizational Evaluation to Municipal Resources, Inc. for an amount not to exceed $27,795.
  • Blair Square Committee – Establish a Gift Account – The Board deferred action on this until more input is received from related committees.
  • Approved minutes of October 12, 2021, and October 18, 2021 meetings
  • Accepted an in-kind drilled well at the Community Farm as a $2,500 donation from Richardson Wells
  • Accepted a $400 donation to the Senior Center from the Superette patrons.
  • Approved an Event permit – Friends of the Community Farm Bonfire, Music December 31, 2021 from 8:00 to 10:30pm at the Community Farm

Other Business:

  • Mr. Cronin:
    • Asked Mr. Ahern for an update on the Technical Assistance Bureau’s report to Holliston
    • Asked Mr. Ahern for update on the Marshall Street Solar project
    • Winter Overnight Parking Ban goes into effect on November 1st
    • Leaf pickup week of November 29th.  Have paper bagged leaves at curb on regular pickup day.
  • Mr. Sparrell:
    • Envisioning Future Holliston will hold its next meeting on November 10, 2021.
  • Mrs. Hein:
    • Welcome to our Town’s newest employees.

The meeting adjourned at 9:08pm.

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Chris Cain

1 Comment

  1. Daniel Alfred on November 2, 2021 at 7:20 am

    Unfortunately, Chief Cassidy appears not to have listened to the Finance Committee’s numerous times explaining (including the Chair’s explanation at Town Meeting) why we voted to recommend the traffic cameras funding conditional on the implementation of a policy. Our recommendation had nothing to do with trust or lack of trust in public safety officials and it certainly was not a reflection of recent events. In fact, public safety officials had sought these cameras for a number of years (before the most recent national debate) and were asked for a policy each time (the requests were pulled for various reasons). Simply put, a policy helps limit the town’s potential liability and financial risk from the cameras. Virtually every employer has a policy manual for their employees that lays out what is and isn’t appropriate to do during company time or with company assets. This policy is essentially that but just specific to the cameras. While the finance committee did not opine on the content of the policy, the policy in general was wholesome and I personally felt comprehensive enough to limit our liability and financial risk. For example, the policy prohibits the posting of camera footage on social media. Without this policy, it would not be prohibited for a town employee to screen shot, film with cellphone or otherwise take the footage and post it on social media. While I do not purport that any of our town employees would have done this, I also think it is important that everyone understands what is and isn’t allowed. If we didn’t have a policy and footage was posted on social media and then the town was sued, the town could not have shown that that employee acted against the town’s clearly stated policy and thus the town would be more open to being successfully sued. Again, this isn’t about a climate of distrust for public safety officials, its about simply ensuring that the town has taken common sense steps to maximize its protection for itself from risk. Just because other towns failed to do that is not an excuse for us not to.

    Daniel Alfred
    Vice Chair, Finance Committee

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