Trees and Governance Top This Week’s Select Board Agenda

On Monday, November 21, 2022, Holliston’s Select Board convened its public meeting at 7:11pm after an Executive Session to discuss non-union personnel items.  Chair Ben Sparrell welcomed the public to the regular agenda for tonight’s meeting.  Barbara Gardner, Jeanne Grandy, and Sharon Thornton from the Holliston Garden Club joined the meeting to continue the discussion related to earning “Tree City USA” classification for Holliston.

L-R Barbara Gardner, Jeanne Grandy present to the Board.

Mrs. Grandy outlined some recent tree-related activities underway.  Sharon Thornton (below) is working with Town IT Director Chris Meo to post information about significant trees in Holliston.

Mrs. Thornton, a self-proclaimed “tree hugger,” thanked Mr. Meo for his cooperation and fully supports the Town pursuing the Tree City USA designation.

Plans are in the works to designate a large Silver Maple tree on School St. as Legacy Tree.  Other such trees in town may be eligible for similar designation in the future.

The application questionnaire for Tree City USA designation asks if the municipality has a specific tree ordinance / by-law.  Holliston does not currently have this requirement.

Each member of the Board shared their support for the “wonderful idea” to become part of this nationwide program that requires minimal financial resources.

The Board authorized Mr. Ahern and Town Planner Karen Sherman to draft a proposed ordinance that would govern trees on public land to be presented to the Board by the end of February 2023 for possible inclusion on the May Town Meeting Warrant and a proposed proclamation for Arbor Day 2023.

Mr. Cronin took the opportunity to wish Ms. Gardner, a 57-year Holliston resident, the best as she moves to California after the first of the new year and thanked her for her many years of service to the town and the state.

L- R Len Engle, Sam Tyler, and Hayley Fetrow meet with the Select Board.

Members of the Governance Committee (GC) met with the Board to discuss a feasible path forward for the important work that needs to be done to keep Holliston’s government current with the increasing needs of the community.

Select Board Chair Sparrell opened the dialogue by asking: What is the committee work yet to be done? Will the committee be able to get results from that work?

GC Chair Sam Tyler recapped the committee’s work to date and what is on the Committee’s ‘to do’ list.  Tyler pointed out that a lot of work has been done and there is a lot of frustration with the lack of results.

Click here to visit the Governance Committee’s webpage to see all the data / materials available to the public chronicling the work of the GC -> https://www.townofholliston.us/governance

GC member Sue Nersessian (above) joined the meeting by Zoom and stressed that the GC proposals at Town Meeting would benefit from public support of other Committee / Boards working in partnership with the GC – citing the partnership with the Planning Board regarding Article 11 on the Fall Town Meeting Warrant.

Members of the Board expressed the tension that exists between the need to modernize our town’s governance and the lack of results in that area to date.  Mr. Cronin expressed his regret that the 2.5 years of work / research by the GC has not yielded the results expected and that the GC doesn’t appear to have public support for its proposals.

After discussion among the Board members, a motion was put forward requesting the GC to present to the Board a concise consolidated document that provides the status of the GC’s work and to deliver that report to the Board by January 2023.  Mr. Sparrell and Mrs. Hein voted in favor; Mr. Cronin opposed the motion saying that the GC could be disbanded now and asked for the same information as an exit report.

Warrants: The Board unanimously approved the weekly warrant totaling -> $2,117, 910.4

Public Comment:

  • Mrs. Hein:
    • Attended a session at the State House last Wednesday and Thursday – sponsored by Senate President Spilka
    • Trash pickup delayed one day beginning THIS Thursday.
  • Mr. Cronin: The Holliston Lions will be holding the annual tree lighting at Blair Square on Saturday, Nov. 26th at 4:00pm
  • Mr. Sparrell: None
  • Public:
    • Liz Theiler:
      • Supported an idea proffered earlier by Mr. Tyler that the Town Meeting Warrant and Finance Committee report be mailed to all Holliston households to inform voters of issues to be discussed.
      • Ms. Theiler asked several questions regarding the Holliston Fire Department practices – answers will be presented at next week’s Board meeting.
      • The topic of ALS (advanced life support) ambulance service was presented as a “lose-lose” situation.  The loss of time while paramedics from other towns provide ALS and Holliston loses money because we don’t have ALS certification.  This topic drew responses from the Board pointing to the fact that the Board (and Town Meeting) support moving to ALS certification which will take time.  Also, the Town does not actually “lose” any money.  At the end of the discussion Ms. Theiler agreed that a more accurate statement would be “because Holliston doesn’t yet have ALS certification, we are not receiving reimbursement at that higher level.”

Comments from Town Administrator:

  • Appointed Chinmaya Gogineni as the seventh member of the Economic Development Committee Term to expire June 2024
  • Cole Court residents wrote requesting improvements to pedestrian safety at the crosswalk on Washington St.
    • Deputy DPW Director Walker is installing an electronic speed monitoring system
    • HPD Chief Stone reminds pedestrians to use the crossing beacon
    • Mrs. Hein will discuss this situation during a larger conversation on traffic speed limits along Washington St.
  • Agricultural Commission farm surveys are still be collected by the Town Administrator.  A report on all the responses received will be presented to the Board soon.
  • FY 24 budget planning will begin now that the tax rate is set.
  • The OPEB Trust committee will meet on December 13, 2022.
  • The search for a new Treasurer / Collector is underway.

Public Hearing – Change in ownership for Planet Automotive from Anis Lahiani to Gilvan Miranda

The Public Hearing was opened at 8:21pm.  The proposed change of ownership includes the transfer of the existing Class 2 Dealer’s License.  The Board heard from Mr. Miranda about his experience in the business and wished him well on his new venture.  The Board unanimously approved the ownership change and awarded the Class 2 Dealer’s License to Mr. Miranda.  The Hearing was closed at 8:26pm

Board Business: The Board took the following actions:

  • Appointed Firefighter Brian Rossini through June 30, 2023
  • Approved the request for Chapter 90 Reimbursement of $184,555.74 (Mudville and other road work)

Other Business: None

Happy Thanksgiving and hope to see you at Blair Square on Saturday at 4:00pm

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Chris Cain

2 Comments

  1. Liz Theiler on November 22, 2022 at 11:27 am

    Let us be clear when the paramedics from Ashland, Hopkinton, or Medway, etc. come to help a Holliston resident these towns receive as I understand a reimbursement of about $1,300 per event. As Holliston does not have ALS, paramedic service this is revenue that Holliston is not yet recouping.

  2. Bob Malone on November 22, 2022 at 2:51 pm

    As a past member of the Holliston Housing Authority, I can attest to the fact that motorists/trucks occasionally ignore, or at least are surprised by, the activation of the red light at the Cole Court entrance/exit. Any thought to use of traffic cameras to enforce, or at least fine, offenders?

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