Select Board Gets a Lot Done Before “The Nor’easter” Arrives

The weekly Holliston Select Board meeting was called to order by Chair Ben Sparrell at 7:01pm on Monday, March 13, 2023.  Sparrell offered a “stormy agenda” giving a nod to the Winter Storm Warning now in effect.

Board members don’t look too concerned about the impending storm.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Feasibility Study – Lombardo Associates Progress Report #3

Pio Lombardo (below left) presented a third update on the downtown sewer project and the necessary upgrades of the existing wastewater treatment plant (whether or not the sewer project proceeds).

Below are Mr. Lombardo’s slides outlining work to date, next steps, and needed Board authorization.

Lombardo noted here that the Slug Test capacity came in at 50,000 Gallons / Day, lower than what he had anticipated earlier.

Below the map shows that ground water under the Woodland Street complex flows in two directions which aids in distributing the wastewater treatment plant output.

This Permit Renewal is for the existing wastewater treatment plant – independent of the downtown sewer project.

Note that this slide projects costs for 2024 whereas an earlier slide referenced costs from 2022.  Below is how the $8 million project total is derived. 

Please note that the summer 2024 date should be 2023.

Mr. Lombardo is optimistic that the DEP will grant the requested permit.  All local stakeholders will be invited to review and refine the project and learn more about the pros and cons of developing a downtown sewer district.  The schematic below (also shown in an earlier presentation) shows how sewer lines would collect effluent from existing septic tanks and travel “cross country” to the Linden Street facility.

The Board thanked Mr. Lombardo, Town Administrator Travis Ahern, and Facilities Manager James Keast for continuing to work at this significant effort.  No specific action was taken by the Board at this meeting as specific dollar amounts to fund the treatment plant upgrades and what amount was needed for continuing the sewer project engineering were not yet available.

Public Hearing – Sale of Mall Liquors D/B/A Lincoln Liquors to Six Brothers Lincoln, LLC 1566 Washington Street

The Board called the Hearing to order at 7:52. Below, the attorney representing Six Brothers Lincoln, LLC requested that the current package store liquor license be transferred to the new owners.  Atty. Mooradian noted that the hours of operation would remain the same.  This is part of a purchase of six Lincoln Liquors stores.  The store will have ID checking technology in use. Members of the Board asked a couple of questions and invited Mrs. Patel, the new manager, if she had any comments – she had none.

No citizens joined the Hearing and the Board closed the Hearing at 7:56pm.  Following the closing of the Hearing the Board voted unanimously to approve the transfer of the existing liquor license to the new owner.

Public Comment:

  • Mrs. Hein: The 2023 Rain Barrell purchase program – see below.  Residents can save up to $50 off the regular price!
  • Mr. Cronin: The Capital Working Group met this Monday and discussed proposed funding plans discussed at last week’s Select Board meeting.  Members of the Working Group will share the plan at the upcoming FinCom and School Committee meetings.
  • Mr. Sparrell: The FinCom Capital Sub-committee will be meeting next week.
  • Public:

Liz Theiler (below) read into the record comments that she had previously shared via the Holliston Reporter and other means citing specific recommendations from the MRI report regarding the title and responsibilities of the new “senior officer” to be added to the Fire / EMS Department.

Members of the Board reminded Ms. Theiler that no final decisions about title / role have been made. Mr. Cronin asked Ms. Theiler to make sure her comments don’t stray into uncivil commentary.

Warrants: The Board unanimously approved the weekly warrant totaling -> $2,809,184.06

FY2024 Budget Development Process

Mr. Ahern did a quick walkthrough of the current proposed FY 24 budget.  (Sorry large dollar amount and small print.) Mr. Sparrell asked the Board to view this as a starting point for discussion.  Members of the Board have asked Mr. Ahern to factor in 5 changes to the above budget.  He will add those changes and present an updated budget for discussion and action at next week’s meeting.

May 2023 Annual Town Meeting Warrant Development

  • Warrant set to close at 4pm on March 20, 2023, provide requests for Articles to Town Administrator or Citizens’ Petitions to Town Clerk by this deadline.
  • Mr. Ahern quickly provided highlights of the May Town Meeting warrant:
    • No citizens’ petitions yet (see above)
    • Tree ordnance is in development
    • Jasper Hill developer seeking an easement from Town
    • Keefe Tech is requesting support for the creation of a new fund for the school
    • DPW facility
    • Pinecrest infrastructure
    • Deputy Chief retirement age extension

Mr. Ahern characterized it as a “pretty efficient warrant” with potential for some consent agenda items.

Comments from the Town Administrator: (It should be noted that Mr. Ahern worked through a ‘frog in his throat’ all night long)

  • Woodland Street Closure (Bridge/Culvert at Factory Pond Dam) – PARE Corp, Mr. Ahern, DPW are meeting with MassDOT later this week to review options prepared by PARE Corp.  The funding is available as soon as the next step is approved.
  • Upper Town Hall – Fee Structure & Scheduling Process – The Board approved the revised fee schedule below for all NEW reservations for events that take place after July 1, 2023.  Previously approved events will be charged at the old rate.

The fee schedule was updated through the work of Facilities Manager James Keast (below left).

  • 300th Anniversary – The Board learned that the State earmark of $10,000 for the celebration must be spent before August 2023 (not a typo).  The Board requested that the 300th planners come to a future Board meeting to discuss how funds will be disbursed and what activities are being planned.
  • Senator Spilka and Rep Arena-DeRosa will be at next Monday’s SB meeting.
  • Senator Spilka will be speaking at an event on March 29th in Upper Town Hall from 6:30 – 8:30pm
  • One of Holliston’s licensed marijuana growers will be requesting that its HCA be changed to reflect recent cannabis legislation and license it to be a registered delivery service – adding more revenue to the town’s coffers.

Board Business: The Board took the following actions.

  • Accepted a $57,710 donation of from Friends of Holliston Trails for the Blair Square Renovation Project.  This total includes the $45,000 committed to the pavilion construction.  The additional $12,710 will be used for trash containers, and a water station (for pets too).  The Board noted that this donation brings the total funding for the project to more than was initially budgeted.  Mr. Keast reported that the additional funding will be used to pay for the irrigation system that has been installed (because it made sense to do so before the grading / landscaping was completed)
  • Accepted a donation of seeds for a class at the Community Farm valued at $470.
  • Approved the following event Permits:
    • Hazardous Waste Collection Day (July 22, 2023)
    • Memorial Day Parade (May 29, 2023)
    • Friends of the Holliston Trails 5K-10K (June 3, 2023)
    • Walk ‘n Mass Volkssport Walk (April 1, 2023)
    • Drishya 2023 (March 18, 2023) to be held at Placentino beginning at 8am.
  • Approve the minutes from the January 30, 2023, meeting.

Other Business:

Mrs. Hein is requesting a project update from the DPW Highway department on the Mudville drainage / paving project which is expected to be resume this Spring.  In a recent conversation with Shaw Lively, Mrs. Hein learned that the Parks Commission / Department is looking at taking on scheduling of Blair Square / Rail Trail events as it is a 6.7-mile-long park.

The meeting adjourned at 9:08pm.  Next week – Senator Spilka and Rep Arena-DeRosa will be at the meeting.

Chris Cain