Select Board Hears a Sewer Feasibility Update and Discusses Updating the 5-year CIP

The Holliston Select Board on Monday, June 6, 2022, to tackle another robust agenda.  Chair Ben Sparrell called the public meeting to order at 7:01pm following an Executive Session to discuss the Town Administrator’s Employment Contract.

The first agenda item was deferred while the Board awaited Pio Lombardo who was presenting an update on the feasibility study underway for the Linden St. Wastewater Treatment plant.  The Board jumped to some other agenda items to use the time wisely.  For the purposes of this report, the Lombardo update appears in the original sequence.

Downtown Sewer Feasibility Study – Progress Update to Select Board by Consultant (Lombardo & Associates)

Pio Lombardo (below center) presented twenty slides outlining progress to date on the study being done by his firm.  Mr. Lombardo has worked with the Town on various projects over the past few decades.  He presented his findings in non-engineering terms and responded candidly to all questions posed by the Board.

As with other presentations, images of the slides appear here for all to see the same information.

Wastewater Treatment Plant circled in yellow.

Mr. Lombardo estimated that the needed equipment and technology to bring the existing facility up to standards could be in the $300,000 range.  The Engineering oversight item would be a separate expense.

BOD = Biological Oxygen Demand (organic material to be oxidized/decomposed).  Said in a graphic way, “kids don’t poop at school.”

Too little BOD leads to chemical imbalances in the system as shown by the chart below with permit violations highlighted in pink.  Mr. Lombardo suggested that such repeated violations could lead to greater MassDEP oversight.

The remainder of the report explored the area that could be potentially included in an expanded “sewer district.”

A section of Central St. (below) was used to illustrate how Lombardo & Assoc. will go property by property in the study area to know the exact amount of increased flow could be generated.

Mr. Lombardo referred back to the earlier slide that illustrated a potential design flow capacity (orange highlight).

Mr. Lombardo outlined some possible scenarios for how existing sewage collection tanks would be connected to a centralized sewer district collection system.

Lombardo’s work-to-date has unearthed earlier studies that show, using Board of Health data where septic tanks are located in the study area. (example below)

Paul Saulnier, Holliston’s resident sewage expert, suggested that perhaps the pipe could travel on the Town’s right-of-way down Hollis Street.  Mr. Saulnier also wants to see more public dialogue about “who is in and who is out” of any new sewer district.

The properties in white (below) abut the proposed pipe from the High School to the treatment plant.  The Select Board wants to know more about the High School’s future before committing to the installation along Hollis St.

Below, Facilities Director and resident, James Keast wanted to know what defines downtown.

An important step is to do hydro/geologic studies to determine the drainage of the soil near the existing plant.  For those septic tank users in town, it’s similar to the perc test – only at a larger scale and involves slope of drainage.  One idea that was mentioned was to use what some call “gray water” (not potable water) as an underground irrigation system to the schools’ fields.

Members of the Board thanked Mr. Lombardo for the update.  The next update on the feasibility study will be in Aug / Sept of this year.

Public Comment:

  • Mrs. Hein: Congratulations to two HHS Class of 2022 who received $2,500 scholarships from Sol Systems (the entity partnering with Holliston to develop a Solar Panel field on the old town landfill)
  • Mr. Cronin: None
  • Mr. Sparrell: The second Envisioning Future Holliston survey is now open.  The goal is to get 1,000 responses from citizens of all ages by August 1st. Access the survey here ->EFH Survey #2
  • Public: Beyond Mr. Saulnier’s and Mr. Keast’s sewage questions / comments, there was no additional comments.

Warrants: The Board unanimously approved the weekly payment of expenses totaling -> $2,702,740.40

Update to 5-Year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)

At a little over two hours into the meeting the conversation turned to finances and the big projects and big numbers that the Town now has from the recently completed studies (now including the WWTP).  The reports and updates for all those studies can be found on the Town website on the Select Board page -> 2021-2022 Project Study Reports & Information | Town of Holliston MA

Mr. Ahern is in the process of updating the most recent 5-year CIP to reflect the cost estimates from each report. The 2021 CIP can be found here on the Town website ->

town_of_holliston_-_5-year_cip_-_fy22-26_-_web_version.pdf (townofholliston.us)

The Board had a lengthy and detailed discussion based on some draft exhibits (not captured as they are draft) Mr. Ahern prepared about how the new project costs might be reflected in the CIP and as Warrant articles at future Town Meetings.  The Board asked Mr. Ahern to prepare a capital expenditure model that includes all the big projects on the Town’s plate and how those could be handled over a 10-year period.

When the CIP is updated, it too will be posted on the Town website in the Town Links -> Financial Policies section.

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

  • The second quarterly Town Newsletter is available. https://www.townofholliston.us/sites/g/files/vyhlif706/f/uploads/holliston_hometown_newsletter_summer_2022.pdf
  • Citizens can keep up with the Town’s procurement process at -> https://www.townofholliston.us/town-links/pages/procurement-legal-notices
  • A letter has gone to the State formally requesting earmarked environmental funds of $1 million for dam rehabilitation.
  • The ARPA Steering Group is meeting next Monday.  The agenda will include further discussion of ARPA funds to continue the Downtown Sewer Feasibility study.
  • Sol Systems provided an update via Mr. Ahern.  The Town’s much-delayed solar installation is under a review by ISO New England (electric grid managers) with the study to be completed by Dec 2022.  The Board is disgusted and frustrated by the continuing bureaucratic delays for this project.
  • The DPW received positive citizen feedback on recent brush trimming at intersections.
  • A citizen expressed concern about the mental health crisis and asked for action.  The Town Administrator outlined the many inter-connected town entities that provide preventive services and respond to mental health issues.  The Board authorized Mr. Ahern to reply to the sender – with thanks for the citizen communication.

Board Business:

  • Appointed Nicholas Micelotti as an on-call HFD Firefighter
  • Approved the event permit for Ernie’s Run softball tournament 06/18/22 Kampersal field 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Kampersal Road will be closed during the tournament.
  • Approved the event permit for the Three Squares New England Bike Ride fundraiser to be held on October 2, 2022, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.  Approximately 150 riders will participate.
  • Approved the minutes of May 2, 2022, meeting.
  • Accepted a $400 donation from Superette patrons to the Sr. Ctr. nutrition fund.

Other Business:

Mrs. Hein reminded everyone that the Town offices and schools will be closed on Monday, June 20, 2022, in observance of Juneteenth (June 19th).  Trash pickup will NOT be delayed.

The Board meeting adjourned at 9:59pm.  Next Monday’s agenda includes an update from Town Counsel on the “Updates in the Cannabis Industry.”

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Chris Cain

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