Select Board Meets on Eve of Town Election

T’was the night before the 2022 Town Election and all through the Town not many people were stirring – except at Town Hall.  The Select Board held its weekly meeting absent Clerk John Cronin.  Chair Tina Hein called the May 23, 2022, meeting to order at 7:00pm as posted on the agenda.

COVID-19 Community update / ARPA Programmatic update

After several weeks of not appearing at The Table, Holliston’s Fire Chief / Emergency Management Director Michael Cassidy joined the meeting to provide several updates to the Board.

  • COVID continues to infect Hollistonians.  A total of 2,525 residents have been reported as infected through the MA Dept Public Health site.  This number may vary from the positive test results from self-tests administered by individuals or through the Holliston Public Schools.
  • Holliston, like most of MA, is at the Red level of infection rate. 
  • The current variant spreads quickly and infection does not usually lead to hospitalization or death (15 Holliston residents have died from COVID to date).
  • The Town will soon be acquiring more self-tests for free distribution at the Senior Center, Board of Health, and the Pantry Shelf.  Look for an announcement regarding when the tests can be picked up.
  • Retail pharmacies have tests and vaccines.
  • The Federal Government online test kit site is available to order more kits for home delivery.
  • Mr. Sparrell asked about “long-COVID.”  Chief Cassidy noted that it is a very real issue and yet the magnitude of the problem is still not known.
  • Cassidy then put on his ARPA Steering Group hat and asked the Board to expand the definition of what are qualified cleaning expenses that could be reimbursed with ARPA funds.  The exhibit below shows the earlier definition.  The Board approved adding materials related to air purifiers and touchless water fountains, etc. to the accepted use of the original $55,000 authorization.

ARPA Steering Group member, Town Administrator Ahern updated the Board on the status of the recent approval of $45,000 for technical assistance. (see below)

Mr. Ahern is developing a Request for Proposals for distribution to qualified bidders.  The RFP close date is June 3, 2022.  If no qualified bidders apply, then the Town will use MAPC resources.  MAPC resources may not be as readily available.

The above excerpts are from the interim report of how Holliston has used ARPA funds to date.  The entire report is on the Town website -> arpa_steering_-_interim_update_-_may_4_2022.pdf (townofholliston.us)

Warrants: The Board approved the weekly expenses totaling $1,537,411.57.

Public Comment:

  • Chief Cassidy:
    • Last Monday (5/16) HFD responded to a call of a structure fire.  Two HFD on-call firefighters were working in the area. They arrived at the scene before the fire apparatus and began fighting the exterior fire with an available garden hose.  He noted that having firefighters living / working in town is a great advantage for the Town. Thanks to Medway and Sherborn fire for providing backup.
    • The third annual HHS Senior car parade was held safely (and loudly) on Sunday
  • Mr. Sparrell:
    • Tuesday is Election Day.  Please exercise your civic duty by voting.
    • Thanks to the HN&N for the Touch-A-Truck event.
  • Mrs. Hein:
    • Thank you to Mr. Sparrell, Mr. Cronin, Mr. Ahern, and other Town employees/officials who have supported her during her term on the Select Board – especially this past year when she was Chair.
    • Best of luck to all the candidates running in Tuesday’s election.

Comments from Town Administrator: Mr. Ahern shared the following with the Board:

  • Next Tuesday’s Select Board meeting will have a very full agenda. (see below regarding a report to be presented to the Board)
  • The Board will continue to hold Community Forum meetings through June on a series of studies / reports.  See the entire list here -> https://www.townofholliston.us/home/news/upcoming-select-board-community-forums
  • Good News! The Town has been awarded a $197,000 from the State’s Shared Streets and Spaces program toward the construction of the new parking lot at 9 Green Street.  Town Meeting had approved $300,000 for the project.  The grant will help defray the actual costs of the completed project, returning some funds to the Capital Expenditure Fund. 

Verizon Pole Hearing – Mill Street

The Public Hearing was called to order at 7:46pm for the purpose of public discussion on the proposed relocation of three poles and support poles / wires in the Mill Street area.

Mr. Donald Vonner (above right) from Verizon, answered the Board’s questions regarding the three pole relocations in the Mill Street area.  Mr. Vonner visited the site earlier and reported that the poles have already been moved.  The Board encouraged such timely work on the many other pole relocations needed across Town.

The Board approved the requested relocations and closed the Public Hearing at 7:51pm.

J.D. Automotive D/B/A Boudreau’s Automotive 441R Washington Street 5 total cars approved by Zoning Board

Returning from a brief break, the Board opened the Public Hearing at 8:02pm.

Daniel Gonzalez (left) and Jeremy Mason (right) answered questions from the Board.  The Board approved the request in accordance with the special permit granted in December 2021.  The Hearing was closed at 8:05pm.

Board Business:  The SB took the following actions:

  • Approved event permit for the annual ALS TDI Tri-State Trek June 24, 2022.
  • Approved amendments to the Host Community Agreement between Holliston and Good Feels at 72 Jeffrey Ave.
  • Appointed Jacquelyn Valsamis to the Conservation Commission, with her term ending June 30, 2024.  Thank you for volunteering Ms. Valsamis!

Other Business:

  • Next Monday is Memorial Day.  Holliston’s veterans will conduct a parade and Town Hall ceremony commencing at 11:00 am.
  • As noted earlier, a very busy Select Board meeting will be on Tuesday May 31, 2022.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:05pm (by the way, that’s just about 24 hours before the Polls close on Tuesday, May 24th.) “Hope to see you at the polls,” echoed as the video link closed.

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Chris Cain

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