January 10, 2022, Select Board Meeting

Holliston Select Board Chair Tina Hein called the January 10, 2022, meeting to order at 7:00pm.  First on the agenda was an update from the Holliston DPW Director and Deputy DPW Director.

DPW Update – DPW Director Sean Reese (Water Superintendent) and Deputy DPW Director Robert Walker (Highway Superintendent)

DPW Director Sean Reese (back to camera) and Deputy DPW Director Robert Walker (right end) provided the Board with updates on a variety of topics:

  • Personnel – Recently hired a water plant employee and is fully staffed – for now; Highway has promoted a crew chief and has one vacancy
  • Mudville Project – The project is on track – the next phase is 20 – 22 utility poles to be moved by utility companies. Curbing and paving will finish up in the spring (hopefully after the poles have been moved)
  • Central St. Water Treatment Plant – A project update was posted on the Town website recently -> https://www.townofholliston.us/sites/g/files/vyhlif706/f/uploads/treatment_plant_12-21_progress_report.pdf
  • Highway department excited to work on proposed sidewalk improvements (Stantec report) https://www.townofholliston.us/sites/g/files/vyhlif706/f/uploads/sidewalks_water_presentation_2021.12.06.pdf
  • The new strategy for snow removal seemed to work well during Friday’s storm.  The Town has a full complement of contract plow drivers.  One complaint regarding Curve St. is being attended to.
  • Mr. Walker is looking at how the operation of the recycling center can be improved and – possibly expand the hours of service.
  • Mr. Walker is conducting a sign audit all around town to determine placement / replacement needs.
  • Culvert audit is underway.  There are about 100 culverts under town roadways and trails.
  • Mr. Reese commended Mr. Walker on the “outstanding job” he has done as Interim Deputy DPW Director.
  • The DPW facilities review is in the second of three phases – with a final report due soon.
  • Discussions continue on the development of a Grounds division within DPW to maintain all Town fields, lawns, parks, etc.

Mr. Cronin suggested forming a small working group to start planning how / where the Town should spend funds that are available from the recent Federal Infrastructure law.

Governance Committee Update to Select Board

Governance Committee Chair Sam Tyler, (above) along with the other four members of the Committee shared a list of questions directed to the Dept Local Services (DLS) Technical Assistance Bureau (TAB) related to the TAB report provided to the Town last fall.  The questions are listed below:

The Board encouraged the Committee to not wait or rely on the TAB responses before continuing to look at how Holliston is governed.  Mr. Sparrell asked the Committee to prepare questions for the NEXT Envisioning Future Holliston survey that focus on how citizens think the Town is / should be governed.  Sparrell also asked what would be the benefits IF Holliston had a Charter – and how long would it take to establish a Charter?

COVID-19 Community update

Fire Chief Michael Cassidy presented his weekly update to the Select Board:

  • Since last Monday’s update, 212 new cases have been reported in Holliston
  • Active case counts move up and down quickly – new CDC guidelines and reporting timeframes
  • The State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has extended the mask mandate in schools through the end of February.
  • The State released information on an app for confirming vaccination.  The site is http://myvaxrecords.mass.gov/

The graph below shows the number of new cases each day.  The last big spike was in May 2021 when cases grew in congregate care settings.

The Holliston Board of Health issued a mask mandate in all public spaces effective Thursday, January 6th

There are still slots available at the Town’s COVID vax / booster clinic THIS SATURDAY.

Click here to make an appointment -> https://home.color.com/vaccine/register/transformativehealth?calendar=e710308b-6c6f-41a8-9d2a-a894e0b46b64

ARPA Programmatic update

The ARPA Steering Group met last Tuesday.  The group focused on capital projects that could be fully or partially funded by ARPA monies.  The overall breakdown is below: 40% educational support, 40% infrastructure, and 20% public health support.

The Board approved an ARPA Steering Group recommendation to allocate up to $5,000 for the purchase of home rapid tests in a quantity and frequency that meets the Town’s needs.

Warrants The Board approved the weekly warrant totaling – $1,546,366.92

Public Comment:

  • Mr. Cronin – Register for the COVID clinic if you are eligible.
  • Mr. Sparrell:
    • The Blair Square design is nearly done, and he asked that the Blair Square committee on an upcoming Select Board agenda.
    • 378 responses have been collected by the Envisioning Future Holliston survey -> Take the survey by clicking here  This first survey closes THIS THURSDAY (Jan 13)
  • Mrs. Hein: None
  • Public: None

Comments from Town Administrator:

  • Q2 Financial Update – Expenditures & Revenue – This quarterly snapshot is prepared by the Town Accountant.  Mr. Ahern feels that the Town is in good shape at the midpoint of the fiscal year.
  • The January 18th (Tuesday) Select Board meeting will include a public forum.  See below for details.

Golf Course Advisory Committee Capital improvements 2022

Deb Moore (above) Chair of the Golf Course Advisory Committee submitted plans for significant improvements at the town’s Pinecrest golf course.  Mrs. Moore pointed out that for the past several years, the proceeds from the course have gone to pay off debt service.  The bond is now paid off and the committee recommends catching up on improvements that have been on the drawing board for years.  Bob Smith, committee member, spoke about the importance of the course as an asset to the town.  Jay Robinson, below right, added some background information for the Board as they processed the request.

The Board wholeheartedly supports the maintenance of this facility and asked the Committee to rework the requests for funds to fit within the limits set at Town Meeting.  The Committee will prepare a phased approach / budget for the proposed work.

Board Business:

  • Approved the ABCC (Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission) Seasonal Population Increase Estimation Form 
  • Approved minutes from the December 6, 2021, meeting.
  • Accepted a $400 donation to Senior Center from patrons of the Superette.
  • Accepted a $250 Gift donation to HFD from a Lowland Street business.

Other Business:

Mrs. Hein alerted the Board that the Celebrate Holliston committee is meeting Tuesday night to begin discussions for the Town’s 300th anniversary.  She asked for input from her Board colleagues.  Mr. Cronin suggested the committee reach out to our State legislators for funding.  Mr. Sparrell suggested checking in with other Towns to see what their celebrations included.

The meeting adjourned at 9:27pm.  Remember, next week’s meeting will be on Tuesday after the MLK holiday on Monday.

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Chris Cain

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