Select Board Explores Options for Woodland Street Bridge

Holliston Select Board Chair Ben Sparrell called the March 27, 2023, to order at 7:02pm, promising a Spring-like agenda.   Up first was a presentation from Pare Corp related to the short and long-term solutions for the Factory Pond Dam rehabilitation and the replacement of the Woodland Street bridge.  The bridge was recently declared structurally deficient by the MassDOT, forcing its closing on February 14, 2023.

Update on Woodland Street Bridge & Dam (Factory Pond Dam) from Pare Corporation

Below, Allen Orsi, Sr Vice President at Pare Corporation, presents options for short-term bridge repairs and the long-term combined project of rehabilitating the Factory Pond Dam and replacing the failed Woodland St. bridge.

  • Short-term:
  • Creating a reinforced one-lane bridge, using traffic signals to alternate one-way traffic over the bridge.
    • Cost estimate – $200,000 to $300,000
    • May create traffic delays if implemented.
    • Insert precast culvert under the existing failed bridge and filling remaining space to support bridge and allow water flow
      • Cost estimate – $140,000 to $180,000
      • Pare will follow up to see if this option could support heavy vehicles.
    • Leave the bridge closed for the foreseeable future.

Short-term work can only be completed IF / WHEN all necessary permits are obtained: Holliston Conservation Commission, MA Office of Dam Safety, and the Army Corp of Engineers.  Mr. Orsi estimates that if emergency approvals were to be granted temporary work might begin by the end of this summer.

  • Long-term:
    • The Factory Pond Dam spillway will be improved and extended to 55 feet (currently less than 20 fee)
    • The Woodland Street bridge will be built to current highway and environmental standards.
    • Cost estimate for the combined project – $5.5 – 5.6 million.  (Approximately $1.18 million has already been allocated through State and ARPA funds when the project had a much smaller scope)
    • The construction period for the combined dam and bridge project would be 8 – 10 months (with Woodland St closed)
    • The entire engineering, permitting, and funding (State and Federal Grants / ARPA) could take two years.
    • Mr. Orsi was confident in setting a completion date of September 2025.
    • Mrs. Hein asked that use of Lowland St. and the rail trail be considered as an alternative “sidewalk” to the Woodland St. schools during the construction.

The Board asked Mr. Orsi to get information about the weight limits of the precast culvert liner and Mr. Ahern will seek input from Town Staff regarding the options provided.

The Board supports Pare Corp continuing its engineering / planning for the long-term project.  The Board deferred action on which, if either, short-term project might make sense to pursue.  Practically speaking, a temporary solution MIGHT reopen the bridge for up to twelve months before it is closed for the final dam / bridge work.

Host Community Agreement – Update and Extension for 4Front (New England) Cannabis

Town Counsel Attorney Elizabeth Lydon (below) reviewed the language of a 5-year extension of an HCA between Holliston and 4Front (New England) Cannabis.

The Board unanimously approved the HCA language as presented.

May 2023 Annual Town Meeting – Warrant Deliberation:

  • Capital Working Group Update – Development of language for borrowing authorization articles related to:
    • DPW Facility
    • Water/Transportation Infrastructure (roads, sidewalks, drainage); specifically, Norfolk Street, Central Street and Goulding Street

Mr. Sparrell proposed a slight change in the borrowing plan proposed by Finance Director Chris Heymanns, and supported by the Capital Working Group (FinCom, Select Board, and School Committee representatives) that would have the 3 street projects (details below) be covered by borrowing within the tax levy and that the cost of a new DPW facility be covered by authorized borrowing outside the tax levy (override).  The Board supports his suggested change which has little or no impact on the overall borrowing / taxpayer cost.

  • Capital Budget Review (Draft)

Facilities Manager James Keast (below) answered questions from the Board regarding the strategy / cost for the school roof repairs in the Capital Budget request.

Mr. Ahern projects the items below will appear as the proposed Capital Budget at the October 2023 Town Meeting.

Vincent Murphy (above back to camera), a member of the Finance Committee, spoke as a private taxpayer and supported the idea that a Borrowing Authorization within the tax levy should be for the 3 highway, water, septic projects (Central, Norfolk, and Goulding) and a separate Authorization be sought for the needed DPW facility.  The DPW facility borrowing would require a ballot question to approve an override.

Public Comment:

  • Mrs. Hein:
    • Holliston’s Upper Charles Rail Trail has been designated as part of the “East Coast Greenway.”
  • Mr. Cronin:
    • Is watching closely to see if the State Legislature extends the remote meeting guidelines that allow Zoom participation.  The current legislation expires THIS FRIDAY.
    • Met with Boston Honey Co. owner to learn about that company’s experience becoming a business (with a new building) in Holliston.  Interesting fact – they currently have 3,400 colonies of bees in several different locations.  EDC Chair John Drohan will meet with owner and Holliston resident Andy Reseska at a later date.
  • Mr. Sparrell:  None
  • Public:
  • Dr. Liz Theiler (above) thanked Mr. Ahern for the Assistant Fire Chief 3-year initial work plan.  She asked some questions regarding the current draft of the Job Description for the new position.  Work continues to finalize the Job Description.  She also asked about the Job Posting for a Deputy Fire Chief that had applications closing on March 10, 2023. Applicants are being screened / interviewed.

Warrant(s): The Board unanimously approved the weekly warrant totaling -> $1.985,188.98

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

  • Working with Envisioning Future Holliston and consultant BerryDunn on upcoming meeting and data collection from all Holliston residents “meeting them where they are.”
  • Holliston DPW will be sponsoring a Touch-a-Truck in May with DPW and Public Safety on display.

Board Business:  The Board took the following actions:

  • Approved minutes from the February 6, 2023, meeting.
  • Approved the event permit May 7, 2023, at 1pm for the annual Holliston Youth Baseball/Softball Parade
  • Approved the event permit May 21, 2023, at 1pm for the Holliston High Senior Car Parade
  • Approved Two Proclamations as presented for the Melvin Jones Fellowship Awards to be given by the Holliston Lion’s Club on April 19, 2023.

Other Business: None

The Board voted to adjourn at 9:09 pm.


Chris Cain