Select Board Receives Two Engineering Reports

While the Holliston Select Board held its weekly meeting using the hybrid format, the ‘normal’ seating was maintained through the miracle of technology.  Chair Tina Hein called the May 16, 2022, meeting to order at 7:01pm

The agenda was adjusted to move the tribute to long-serving Peter Barbieri to the top.

Mr. Barbieri (below right) has served the Town in many elected and appointed roles for more than 30 years.  Mr. Cronin, having the longest overlapping tenure shared many stories from their work together – and apart.  Cronin described Barbieri as being “built right” as a human being always finding ways to help others.  Mr. Barbieri shared that has been a pleasure to serve and he has received so much in return.

In recognition of Mr. Barbieri’s countless contributions to Holliston, the Goodwill Park Pavilion – when it is upgraded – will be known as the Peter Barbieri Pavilion.  Thank you Mr. Barbieri for all you have done (and likely will do) for Holliston.

For the past several weeks / months, the Select Board meetings have developed some financial knowledge for this reporter.   Monday’s meeting introduced what will likely become an engineering degree as the first of several studies / reports were presented to the Board by consultants.

Several citizens logged in to hear the first report on the possible actions the Town can take to remediate the Houghton Pond and Factory Pond dams which are currently in Poor condition.

Above, Allen Orsi, Pare Engineering VP, presented his firm’s analysis and cost estimates.  Orsi noted that the hazard risk for the Houghton Pond dam, were it to fail would be High, meaning the potential for loss of life downstream.  The Factory Pond risk is slightly better at Significant – likely downstream property damage.

Mr. Orsi answered the Board’s questions and remained in the room to handle public comments later in the meeting.

The Board authorized Town Administrator Travis Ahern to officially request the $1 million allocated for Holliston in a 2018 environmental law.  The purpose of those funds would be to offset the cost of rehabilitating the Factory Pond dam.

Mr. Orsi pointed out that the high cost of removing the Factory Pond dam would be the cost of re-engineering the 8-arch bridge which would in effect become another dam.

Final costs would include impact studies, sediment analysis, and environmental impacts.  Future funding requests to resolve the dangerous state of these dams will appear at Town Meeting.

Mr. Ahern thanked, Chris Bajdek, Cons. Comm. Chair, Cons Agent Ryan Clapp, and Sustainability Coordinator Matt Zettek on the working group that has shepherded this project along.

Warrants: The Board approved the weekly expenses totaling – $3,002,310.51

Public Comment:

  • Mr. Cronin:
    • Represented the Select Board at the Iraq / Afghanistan veterans’ monument dedication and at the annual Police Memorial observance held on Monday.
    • Encouraged all eligible voters to go to the polls (High School) on Tuesday, May 24th.
  • Mr. Sparrell:
    • Thanked all that made last week’s Town Meeting an example of how democracy works. 
    • He thanked Mrs. Hein for sharing his message with those attending
    • Thanked Mr. Cronin for subbing in for him at the two events mentioned above.
  • Mrs. Hein: None
  • Public:
    • Cortney Black – a Houghton Pond abutter expressed concern for the condition of the culvert that runs from the pond under Rt 16 and for the wildlife that would be displaced if the dam was removed.  Mr. Orsi noted that all Pare rehabilitation designs include ways to reduce beaver impact.  DPW Deputy Director Robert Walker was in the meeting room and reported that an additional “Beaver Deceiver” will be installed in Houghton Pond in early June.
    • Joan Levinsohn (below) – also a Houghton Pond abutter – AND a Houghton Pond owner.  Her property includes 2 acres of what is now pond.  If the pond is drained, what tax rate applies to those 2 acres? Mr. Ahern will follow up with the assessors.  Ms. Levinsohn joined Ms. Black in the concerned for the displaced fauna if the pond were to go away.

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

  • Turner Street is CLOSED at South Indian Ridge Rd due to a culvert collapse.  E.L. Harvey is developing a plan to service the area during the closure.
  • Rain Barrels can be purchased through the Town at a discount. See details below.
  • The State Senate’s proposed budget includes an additional $50,000 for Holliston.  If the budget passes, the funds could be used at the October Town Meeting.

Next up was the report from McMahon Traffic engineers following their study of the Hollis / Highland / Prentice intersections.  The entire 55-page report is available on the Town website -> McMahon Highland / Hollis / Prentice intersection traffic study

The 18 -slide presentation summarizing findings and short- and long-term recommendations might be easier to follow. 

Michael Pompili (above) of McMahon & Associates traffic engineers presented the report.  The entire set of self-explanatory slides is shown below.  The Select Board voted to forward the report / presentation to the Traffic Advisory Committee as the citizen petition for this review came through that body and recommended changes to the traffic rules and orders from the TAC are enacted by the Select Board.

Number of feet = length of backup. Level of Service D is the lowest acceptable rating.

Members of the Board wondered if installing stop signs on Highland would make it a less desirable by-pass route.

Kelly Primus and Valentino Russo, Highland Street residents asked that the TAC also look at:

  • 18-wheeler left turns from Hollis onto Highland that have trucks driving on lawns
  • Crosswalk on Highland north of Hollis to connect with existing sidewalk
  • Volume of truck traffic up Hollis has increased
  • The recorded speed in the report is 33 mph.  The speed limit on Highland in that area is 20mph.

Board Business: The Select Board took the following actions:

  • Approved parade permit for the Memorial Day Parade May 30, 2022, at 11:00 a.m.
  • Approved the presentation of the Pride Flag on Town Hall during Pride Month (June)
  • Authorized the Town Administrator to submit the Renewal of Application for Economic Distressed Area (EDA) status for census tracts within Holliston
  • Approved the finalized Host Community Agreement (HCA) with Paragon Harvest for 91 Kuniholm Drive
  • Accepted $200 donation to the Senior Center from William and Beth Depretri in honor of Janice Orlando
  • Approved the High School Senior Car parade on Sunday May 22, 2022, at 1:00 p.m. In compliance with Chief Stone’s safety memo.  Woodland schools up to High School – route to be determined.
  • Approved minutes of April 4, 2022, and May 9, 2022, meetings.
  • Postponed action on the entertainment permit for live music at the Blair Square Farmer’s Market 06/05-10/02/2022 – Request Bobby Blair attend next week’s meeting.
  • Approved the installation of one (bottom left red box) water connection -for the time being – by the Holliston DPW.  The cost of water used to be paid by the Town.
  • Approved a 5K walk/run sponsored by NRIVA Boston on the Rail Trail May 22, 2022, starting 9:00 a.m. to noon

Other Business:

  • Mrs. Hein – Taking the public discussions on the long list of projects / reports “out on the road” in the coming months.  What do Mr. Cronin and Mr. Sparrell think?  Mr. Cronin and Mr. Sparrell – “let’s do it!”

The meeting adjourned at 9:16pm.

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Chris Cain

1 Comment

  1. Chris Bajdek on May 19, 2022 at 4:26 pm

    I think the the article attributes an incorrect statement to Mr. Orsi. The article states “Mr. Orsi pointed out that the high cost of removing the Factory Pond dam would be the cost of re-engineering the 8-arch bridge which would in effect become another dam.” According to the report prepared by Pare Corporation, the high cost of the “Removal” alternative for the Factory Pond dam is associated with the removal and replacement of the Woodland Street bridge – not the 8-Arch Bridge. With the removal of the Factory Pond dam, the existing Woodland Street bridge would not meet Massachusetts Stream Crossing Standards and so would need to be replaced.



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