Short and Sweet for the Select Board this Week

Holliston’s Select Board met on Monday, November 28, 2022, with Chair Ben Sparrell calling the meeting to order at 7:00pm.  This brief report summarizes the one-hour meeting.

The Board heard from American Legion Post 47 Past Commander Steve Bradford and the request to designate a veterans’ parking spot convenient to downtown businesses.  The request was not based on any specific inquiry made of Mr. Bradford but rather something that would further recognize veterans for their service.  Mr. Bradford (below left) noted that Ashland has designated a veteran’s spot.  Mr. Cronin noted that several commercial parking lots allocate such spaces.

This angle doesn’t do justice to Mr. Bradford’s “Salty” sweatshirt.

The members of the Board voiced unanimous support for the concept.  The Board passed a motion to authorize the Town Administrator to continue research as to the best location and how the designated spot(s) would be enforced.

Next up was the review of the seven responses received to date from Holliston’s farm business community regarding the brief survey (below) that was sent out to nearly 20 agricultural entities in early November.

Mr. Ahern summarized the responses in the following way:

  • Yes, there should be an Agricultural Commission
  • The Ag Com protects Holliston’s Right to Farm status
  • Provides a sense of protection for farming
  • The Farms Day event is very important to the agricultural community

The Board discussed ways to bolster Farms Day as a way to promote agricultural in town as part of the economic development of the Town. 

The Board approved a motion to request the Town Administrator to identify a member of the Town staff to lead future Farms Days and to recruit new members for the reformatted Agricultural Commission.

COVID-19 Community update / ARPA Programmatic update

Mr. Ahern shared an update from Fire Chief Michael Cassidy regarding the Town’s request for FEMA reimbursement related to earlier COVID expenses. FEMA continues to move the request through the review / approval process.

The ARPA Steering Group will meet TODAY at noon to review the items listed below.  Mr. Cronin asked that under item 1c. the request from the Historical Society related to septic needs be discussed.

Any recommendations regarding use of ARPA funds for these items will be presented to the Select Board at a future meeting.

Warrants: The Board unanimously approved the weekly warrant totaling -> $2,420,882.78

Public Comment:

  • Mrs. Hein: None
  • Mr. Cronin – Thanked the Holliston Lions for Saturday’s Tree lighting ceremony at Blair Square
  • Mr. Sparrell – He will be hosting his monthly “Select Chat” THIS Friday at 9:30 at the Senior Center.  This session is open to all, and refreshments are provided.
  • Public: None this week.  Mr. Ahern provided answers to the four questions asked during last week’s public comment.
    • Do all Firefighters attend Fire Academy? Yes, if not already certified as Firefighter 1 or 2, new members must be certified within one year.
    • Is there a probation period? Yes, 180 days
    • Were recently appointed firefighters replacements or additions to staff?  Replacements to current and known upcoming vacancies.
    • What is the current roster for firefighters / EMS?  Fire = 54; EMS = 29 (Mr. Ahern added that the first round of new EMT’s applicants is being screened using the new pay scale approved at Fall Town Meeting.

Comments from Town Administrator:

  • Leaf pickup which was supposed to start on Monday did not happen due to a vendor issue.  All leaves left at the curb for Monday pickup will be retrieved along with the regular pickup on each subsequent day.

Board Schedule Review for End of Calendar Year: The Board arrived at the following schedule through December.

  • December 5th – A detailed discussion regarding the Town’s Marshall Street Solar project – potentially including signing legal documents
  • December 12th – A detailed review of Public Safety initiatives.  Perhaps an introduction of the finalist candidate to become Treasurer / Collector following Mary Bousquet’s retirement.
  • December 19th – All the necessary end-of-year business (including opening the Warrant for the Spring 2023 Town Meeting!)
  • December 26th – NO MEETING
  • January 3, 2023 – MAYBE a meeting

Board Business:

  • Approved the minutes of October 24, 2022, meeting.

Other Business:

The Board authorized Mr. Ahern to request $32,000 in Chapter 90 State funds to conduct a town-wide “pavement management plan” using engineering firm Beta.

Mr. Cronin and EDC Chair John Drohan held the first of what will be several outreach calls to Holliston business owners.  Cronin reported having a very productive conversation with Wayne Griffin, owner of Griffin Electric headquartered in the Hopping Brook Industrial Park.  Mr. Cronin has shared information from the call with Mr. Ahern.

The meeting adjourned at 7:56pm. (NOT a typo)

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Chris Cain


  1. Steve Bradford on November 29, 2022 at 7:58 am

    Thank you to the Select Board and Town Administrator for inviting me to present my proposal. Thank you also for your support of Holliston Veterans.

  2. Hillary Freeley on November 30, 2022 at 7:09 am

    Seems like it is a story of “two Hollistons.” The downtown and rail trail improvements are appreciated – and MANY. New sidewalks, plantings, beautification, for all to enjoy. Marshall Street however is a different story. The town designated SCENIC road over the past few years has seen thousands upon thousands of trees taken down and the scenic aspect dramatically changed. If you have not driven down Marshall turning off of Prentice lately you have not seen. What used to be an attractive tree lined entrance is now a massive solar farm. Complete with a hideous chain link fence. “Landscaped” with three pathetic evergreen “bushes” that are already dying. A “trailer” sits front and center. Drive further down past the soccer field and see yet again how the town has recently “improved “ the scenic road by the “recycling center” by – wait for it – cutting down yet more trees to expose a more hideous broken chain link fence. And over the next few years the town will take down more trees to put in an access road for yet another solar farm. This scenic road that just five years ago was lined with trees and the destination for many walkers, runners and bikers on “the other side of town” will be forever changed. How about instead of just downtown the improvements happen throughout town and preserve what the town has already designated as scenic?

  3. David Dysert on November 30, 2022 at 12:56 pm

    I cannot resist chiming in after Hillary’s comment about what feels like negligence toward the west end of town. Lack of speed enforcement is probably my biggest complaint. Marshal and Adams Sts are cut-throughs for many Holliston residents, but perhaps more so for non-residents — who are mostly traveling much too fast. Even heavy trucks can be seen on these narrow scenic roads (just saw a long tank truck trying to make the right turn from Adams onto Marshall – there was hardly enough room for him).

    Although the houses are pretty far apart, the number of walkers, runners and bikers are numerous.

  4. Chris Pierce on November 30, 2022 at 4:26 pm

    It seems we have plenty of EMTs and firefighters (some of whom are also EMTs), why is it hard to staff the primary ambulance? Or the second ambulance? If everybody picked up two 12 hour shifts a month—we’d be covered.

    • Travis Ahern (Town Administrator) on December 2, 2022 at 9:11 am

      Mr. Pierce, thank you for your continued support of improvements to our ambulance service.

      Please note, for all following this important process, that the Board will receive an update on the implementation of MRI recommendations for Fire/EMS services on December 12th at approximately 7pm (hybrid meeting).

      Agenda here:

  5. Tina Hein on December 1, 2022 at 1:46 pm

    In response to the 2 previous comments about Marshall Street, I encourage participation in the open, public processes that will bring answers and solutions to your concerns.

    The Select Board periodically hears updates on the Town’s upcoming Landfill Solar project (see Monday, December 5 agenda). The Planning Board issues permits for the project after holding public hearings. There are no plans to remove a significant number of trees because the solar panels will sit on top of the tree-less landfill cap. However, any resident can raise a concern or question about the project during public comment at our meetings, or during Planning Board hearings. Updated plans can be viewed here:

    The Town implemented a 25 mph speed limit in January 2021 and Marshall Street was reduced from 30 mph to the new statutory speed limit at that time. Residents can contact the Holliston Police Department to request speed enforcement, at any time. For several years, HPD has included additional police officers in its annual budget request – to support all HPD functions, including traffic enforcement. In May 2022, Town Meeting did not approve this request by a difference of 15 votes. Residents should anticipate another request for next year’s budget. The HPD budget will be reviewed by the Select Board and Finance Committee in open, public meetings in March and voted on at Town Meeting in May.

    May Town Meeting is scheduled for the evening of May 8, 2023. And you can receive email updates with meeting dates and agendas for all Town boards and committees using the following link:

    Additional opportunities to contact the Select Board include a monthly coffee hour at the Senior Center with the Chair, Ben Sparrell (first Friday of the month) and my weekly open office hours on Monday evenings in Upper Town Hall. All Select Board members are available by email.

    Tina Hein, Select Board Clerk