Select Board: January 24, 2022, Meeting
The Holliston Select Board (SB) held its weekly meeting on Monday, January 24, 2022, at 7:00pm. After calling the meeting to order, Chair Tina Hein invited State Representative Carolyn Dykema, and Dennis Giombetti, representing State Senate President Karen Spilka to provide an update.
Legislative Update – Office of Senate President Spilka & Office of Representative Dykema
Representative Dykema, back to camera, led off. She started by requesting that the Board send in the Town’s funding priorities for consideration in the FY 23 State budget by April.
- While it is yet to be officially communicated by the State administration, $650,000 has been earmarked for Holliston’s water / wastewater infrastructure.
- Funding has been put forward to COVID tests and masks.
- Voting legislation will be debated in the House later this week – send input to Rep Dykema’s office
- MassDOT District 3 headquarters is looking forward to supporting Holliston’s state roads. That office has been complimentary of the work done by Holliston to move projects forward.
- Very supportive of the Blair Square project, will support grant requests.
- MA is accelerating the development of Wind Power as an economic driver.
Mr. Giombetti, on behalf of Senator Spilka, reinforced the points made by Rep Dykema, and added:
- The State has $4 billion in ARPA funds that will be distributed through competitive grants and other avenues
- $100 million for school ventilation
- $100 million for water / wastewater
- $200 million for public health infrastructure
- The Governor’s budget proposal will be officially announced this week
- Senator Spilka’s priorities include: mental health support, prescription drug prices, and net zero in MA by 2050
The Board asked that the remote meeting changes that have been in place (and have been extended through July 15, 2022) be made permanent. Discussion included the repavement of Washington Street in western Holliston that is slated for Spring of 2022. On the Board’s wish list for the State is financial support for Holliston’s 300th celebration. Mrs. Hein asked our representatives to push for more than the proposed 2.7% increase in aid to local government. Also, more Chapter 90 funding is needed to support the Complete Streets and Shared Streets and Spaces projects planned in Holliston.
Mrs. Hein, on behalf of the Town, asked the representatives to share Holliston’s thanks to the Governor and Lieutenant Governor for their support during their term in office.
Below, Nichole Cordon, who lives at the intersection of Summer and Washington Streets asked the State representatives to install Stop signs that have the flashing lights on the perimeter to reduce the number of accidents / damages in front of and to her home.
The Board thanked Representative Dykema and Mr. Giombetti for their time, insights, and guidance.
Police Chief Matthew Stone presented an update from the Traffic Advisory Committee. Chief Stone chairs the committee and brought forward three items:
- TAC recommends installing No Parking signage (the number to be determined by the Traffic Safety Officer) on Indian Ridge South Road. The Board approved this recommendation along with the necessary changes in the Town’s traffic rules and orders.
- When the TAC was formed in 2019, the 9-member committee expected to meet quarterly.
- In 2021, the TAC met 9 times.
- Currently there are 25 petitions pending action by the TAC.
- Chief Stone asked the Board if it felt the TAC was accomplishing the mission set forth by the Board in 2019.
- The TAC members wonder if there is a better number of members and more efficient practices to make processing citizen petitions quicker and easier.
- The Board will address these last two points at a future meeting.
- Traffic monitoring equipment purchased by HPD with Town Meeting funding has been deployed on Franklin St. The results of the study will be the basis for future TAC recommendations.
The Board noted that other towns have Traffic Advisory Committees and perhaps those towns have ideas Holliston might employ.
COVID-19 Community update / ARPA Programmatic update
- Fire Chief Michael Cassidy shared a busy graph. The good news is that the number of new cases each day is declining in Holliston.
- There will be another COVID vax clinic in Holliston on February 5th from 9 – 11am in Town Hall
- There are a few vaccination appointments available in Northborough Tuesday (tonight) evening.
- Cassidy and the Board concluded that we are emerging from the sixth surge in the past two years! “Déjà vu all over again.”
- The Town continues to stockpile PPE.
Warrants: The Board approved the weekly warrant totaling – $542,447.79.
Public Comment: None by Board Members or citizens.
Select Board Annual Evaluation of Town Administrator Performance
The Board summarized Mr. Ahern’s annual review thusly, “excellent job at meeting expectations.” The Board noted his exceptional financial acumen as demonstrated in budget preparation. Input from department heads included, “he’s a strong leader and collaborative in his approach – making others better.” “He demonstrates care and passion for the Town.”
During the coming year, Mr. Ahern’s goal will be to bring the Assistant Town Administrator / Human Resources Director role to its full capacity.
FY2023 Departmental Budget Reviews
Mr. Ahern presented these budgets that fall within the purview of the Select Board for their input:
- Economic Development: $14,000 -0.48%
- Sealer of Weights & Measures – No budget; paid through revolving fund
- Street Lighting: $99,179 +46.98% (this reflects a sizeable increase in service fees from Eversource – a plan is in the works to buy the light fixtures from Eversource and transition to LED bulbs – the resulting savings paying for the purchase and LED installation in less than 4 years!)
- Solid Waste: $1,376,118 +4.4%
- Celebrations: $2,300 +15%
- Rail Trail: $1,000 0.0%
Robert Weidknecht, Trail Committee Chair, explained that the small budget provides maintenance equipment for use by volunteers who keep the Rail Trail usable. Last year almost 900 hours of volunteer time was donated to keep the trail operational. The Board commended Mr. Weidknecht for his effective leadership of the Trail Committee.
Comments from Town Administrator: Mr. Ahern shared the following with the Board:
- The Viewpoint video program, paid for through an ARPA grant, is nearly complete. The short video gives a “corporate profile” look at Holliston that highlights what we have to offer. All the video footage recorded during the project is owned by the Town. A preview should be available soon.
- The annual Water Rate Hearing will be held during next week’s Select Board meeting, January 31, 2022.
- An updated list of vacant seats on appointed committees will be released soon. Look for that in a future Holliston Reporter article.
Board Business: The Board took the following actions:
- Approved the minutes of the December 13, 2021, and December 20, 2021, meetings.
- Authorized the Town Administrator to submit a letter of support for the Mass Trails Grant Application – Phipps Tunnel drainage – submitted by the Holliston Trails Committee. Also, the Board authorized Mr. Ahern, on behalf of the Landowner (the Town / Select Board) Mr. Weidknecht returned for this item.
- Awarded the Goodwill Park – Design & Engineering Contract to Chemini Design Architects for a fee not to exceed $85,000 – well below the $100,000 the earmark granted for this project. Four qualified bids were received for this project.
- Mr. Cronin – Asked for a project update on the Central St. Water Treatment Plant due to go online this year.
- Mrs. Hein – Spoke with an Ashland Select Board member who mentioned that Ashland is considering a dog park. Hopkinton and Framingham are also moving in that direction. Framingham has received a grant for the park. Mrs. Hein will funnel this information to Park Commissioner Shaw Lively.
The meeting adjourned at 9:07pm.
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