Select Board Receives Infrastructure Reports – And Much More

The Holliston Select Board convened its December 6, 2021 meeting at 7:00pm.  Chair Tina Hein invited representatives from Stantec Engineering to provide updated reports on the Town’s sidewalk and water infrastructure.

The Board gets down to business.

Stantec Presentations:

Bill Scarpati (front right above) discussed the Sidewalk findings and recommendations.  Below are several slides from the presentation.

The Network Priority Ranking (NPR) is a combination of 6 criteria (shown below) to establish which projects should be done when.

The colorful chart below is a summary of all the work that is proposed over a ten-year period.

The next two graphics are seen by Chair Hein as the essence of the study and should inform future operating / capital budget requests to the Town, State, and Federal government.

The projected cost of maintaining existing sidewalks and adding 6 new miles of sidewalk would cost $1 Million / year.

Next up was Erica Lotz who presented the water infrastructure report.  The first part of her presentation focused on water sources.

The chart below projects population growth / decline in the coming years.

Ms. Lotz reported that the Town’s current water supply will handle the projected future needs.  Sean Reese, DPW Director, added that the Water Department maintains the well’s efficiency through proper maintenance.

Next, Ms. Lotz addressed the distribution infrastructure.  There are 88 miles of water mains in town.  Many of those miles were installed over 50 years ago.

The chart above shows the age distribution of the existing water mains.

The proposed approach is a 25-year plan spending about $1.3 Million / year to catch up with the oldest pipes and complete 26 more miles of water main replacement.

Perhaps the slickest part of the report was an interactive dashboard (seen below) that Stantec will provide the Town.  This is in addition to providing all the Geographic Information System (GIS) raw data.

By making various choices, the Town can see what the impact has on the progress and cost of sidewalk and water updates. Mr. Sparrell wants this tool to be a living resource that is updated frequently. Mr. Cronin is very excited about how the tool can help the Town plan.

The Board thanked Ms. Lotz and Mr. Scarpati for the presentation and is looking forward to making real progress on sidewalk and water infrastructure improvements.

COVID-19 Community update:  Chief Cassidy was not present at this meeting. 

  • The Town’s COVID webpage indicates that there are 51 Active cases as of Monday, December 6th.
  • The Booster Clinic at the Sr. Ctr. this coming Wednesday is full.  Future such clinics are being explored.

ARPA Programmatic update: Town Administrator Ahern presented two items to the Board that had been approved at the December 1, 2021 meeting of the ARPA Steering Group – shown in yellow below.

The Board approved the request to make repairs at the Asa Whiting House in the amount of $89,045.

The Board asked Mr. Ahern to convene a public forum in January 2022 to obtain more public input regarding the sewer feasibility study.  There are many options to explore, and all were quick to point out this is not a rehash of the sewer project from 20 years ago.

Dan Alfred spoke in support of the Local Rapid Recovery Plan proposal to connect the Downtown area to the water treatment plant on Linden Street.  He feels that doing something to grow the Downtown is most important.

Mr. Ahern shared the remaining requests still outstanding for the Steering Group’s review / decision.

Mr. Ahern presented the chart below that shows the expenditures and reserves as a pie (donut?) chart showing what percentages of the overall $4.5 Million go to what type of support.

Warrants: The Board approved the weekly warrant of $1,887,293.89.

Public Comment:

  • Mr. Cronin
    • The OPEB Trust Board met last week.
    • The newest HPD officer saved a life at the CVS last week. (more details from Chief Stone forthcoming)
    • Holliston veterans will recognize the 80th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, Tuesday, Dec 7th at 7:30 am at the Town Hall.
  • Mr. Sparrell
  • Mrs. Hein – None
  • Public – None

Discussion of Town Administrator Performance Evaluation Process

Chair Hein shared the process and timing of the Town Administrator’s Annual Performance Review.  Board members will submit their ratings and comments to Town Clerk Liz Greendale no later that January 10, 2022.  New this year, the evaluation will include input from Board / Committee chairs as well.

Comments from Town Administrator:

  • Recycling Center Hours

DPW Director Sean Reese (plaid shirt) and Acting Deputy DPW Director Bob Walker recommended to the Board alternative dates for the recycling center to be open.  In lieu of Saturday 25th and January 1st the center will be open:

Thursday, December 23rd (8am – 3pm), Thursday, December 30th (same hours), Saturday, January 8th and Sunday January 9th.  Extra staff will be on hand on the 8th and 9th.

(Pop quiz: Mrs. Hein spotted a large bird of prey at the center last week. It had a white tail, no white head – what species might it be?)

  • FY2023 Budget Preparation Packet / Schedule – Mr. Ahern shared the key dates in the budget process below.

Board Business: The Board took the following actions:

  • Appointed Heather Scaringella, to the HCAT Board of Directors – term expires 2023
  • Approved the Select Board Meeting Schedule for January 2022 – June 2022
  • Approved the renewal CY2022 Annual Licenses.  There will be a future discussion about whether the license fees for restaurants will be reduced for 2022.

Other Business:

Mrs. Hein requested that Mr. Ahern put the annual Water Rate Hearing on the Board’s January 31, 2022 agenda.

The meeting adjourned at 8:51pm.  Go Pats!

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Chris Cain

4 Comments

  1. Max Emery on December 7, 2021 at 8:34 am

    Sewer downtown? That’s not the issue there is ZERO parking as it is. We can barely keep up with what we have now (no offense) let’s fix what we have and then move on

    • Travis Ahern (Town Administrator) on December 8, 2021 at 3:17 pm

      Max, specific to the parking in Downtown, please note the current project at 9 Green Street (currently in demolition phase) will ultimately result in increased public parking for users of local businesses and Town-owned spaces (Goodwill Park & ancillary parking for Library). To follow along with the 9 Green Street project, please see the website:
      https://www.townofholliston.us/home/pages/information-on-town-projects

  2. Lee DeSorgher on December 8, 2021 at 10:18 am

    There is nothing downtown and if Fiske’s ever closes, it will be a ghost town – perhaps downtown sewerage will pump some life into the area – if you want to see an actual live downtown, visit Medfield

  3. Daniel Alfred on December 8, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    I think that it is important to recognize that putting in a downtown sewer district at a reasonable cost could be a very unique opportunity compared to almost all other town spending. I believe that sewers downtown is more like an investment rather than simply spending money. There are few things a town can spend money on which will actually drive future revenue, this is one of them. Downtown sewers will drive economic growth over the long-term which will drive development and higher taxes from commercial tax payers. The devil will, of course, be in the details. The development needs to fit with our view of what the downtown should look like, etc. However, if done well, this will help drive future revenue growth which will allow the town to continue to invest in maintaining its infrastructure (“fixing what is broken”). We are running out of land to develop (new growth) and need to find new opportunities to help offload the tax burden from residents (it is at an insanely high ~87%). As for parking, its a bit of a chicken or the egg situation but Max, you should search HR for 9 Green Street which is a property right behind the old Gulf station that is being torn down and turned into parking as well. Additionally, the municipal lot on the opposite side of Washington Street is being updated as well. Sewers may not be the solution to all of our problems, but they could certainly be a start. And, as Lee alluded to, we need to do something.

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