Select Board Meeting 11/13/2023

6:00 pm Upper Town Hall for a presentation of the 5th Annual Humanitarian Awards,

This year the recipients were  Jonathan & Leslie Gerber nominated by Chair John Cronin, Barbara Ryan nominated by Vice Chair Tina Hein, and Steve Bradford nominated by Clark Ben Sparrell. Congratulations to all the recipients and thank you for your commitment to humanitarian service in Holliston.

Regular meeting opened at 7:00 – In attendance: John Cronin, Tina Hein, Ben Sparrell and Town Administrator Travis Ahern.

Continuation of public hearing for Holliston Gas wine and Malt License (Norfolk Street) – Ben made a motion to continue the public hearing to consider application. Tina seconded, and motion passed.

Board has asked to take some time to solicit additional information and feedback.  Regarding questions or concerns, Tina had one public comment from a local resident that had no concerns that we make sure that the store checks IDs.  No other residents returned with comments. John has no additional questions and did not hear any feedback.

Motion made to close the public hearing by Ben with vote to take place immediately. Tina seconded. Ben then made a motion to approve the wine and malt license and for the Town Administrator to take all necessary steps with the ABC. Tina seconded, motion passed. John extended his congratulations to the owner on behalf of the Select Board.

The Select Board was joined by the Board of Assessors Chair for a Classification Hearing

Classification hearing on tax rates with Board Assessor Chair Kevin Ruddin. Kevin walked through the potentials for splitting tax rates into multi-tier (residential, business, etc.) although the Assessors Board does not recommend any of these options. This would have meant tax rates as follows:

  • Residential Tax Rate of: $14.86 per $1,000 of valuation (87.92% -> 86.72%)
  • CIP Tax Rate of: $16.57 per $1,000 of valuation (12.08% -> 13.28%)

The net result of this would have been:

  • The average single-family residence saving $136.29
  • The average Commercial building seeing a tax increase of $1,142.26
  • The average Industrial building seeing a tax increase of $2,484.16

Anyone interested in the full presentation may see it using this file

The impact will show about a tax increase of 7.7% for everyone in Holliston. The FY 24 values will be online immediately.

Classification hearing closed.

The following motions were made regarding this presentation. John reminded everyone that there are exemptions in place for seniors, veterans, low income, and disabled residents.

  1. Motion to not adopt a dual tax rate for fiscal year 2024.
  2. Motion to adopt a residential factor of 15.07 for FY 2024 tax rates
  3. Motion to not adopt residential exemption
  4. Motion made to not adopt open space exemption
  5. Motion to not adopt the small commercial exemption

Chair John thanked the Board of Assessors for their work getting this presentation ready for the board and for the work they did evaluating the open space, etc.

Public comments were asked for none forthcoming. Ben Sparrell had a couple of public comments which are more reminders

  1. Reminder: Curbside pickup week of Compostable bags no plastic
  2. Recycle center open Saturday and Sunday
  3. Winter Parking bans

Tina: Plans on waiting until after the 300th to see the health of the town. Pleasure to join Veterans in the Parade, and then join them at Town Hall. Thanks to the organizers and wants everyone to know how grateful she is 

John seconded TIna and thanked Steve Bradford, VFW, and the Holliston Lions & Leos Club for organizing and staffing. This was the 17th event and it was a good chance for the Veterans to share some time together. John echoes TIna’s sentiments about being grateful for the service of our Veterans.

Travis: Resident spoke about the Green Street project and discussions about environmental components. They were looking for a response. Why have we not seen some of the environmental focus. The designer and Town have gone through a great deal of work to make this area more presentable. We should not get the idea that the current phase is the final phase of this development. While everyone would like this to be nearing completion, there have been some roadblocks outside the control of the designer and the town. 

Some of the things which have been completed included rebuilding the headwall in the culvert, removing invasive species, and veterans spot. What still remains is the rain garden, specific grasses to promote the rain garden which will be ongoing, trees in the area are incomplete due to other work which needs completion involving heavy equipment. Once this work is complete, that will move forward. While picnic tables are not in at this time, there is a pad in the area for this purpose. Once Eversource secures the equipment the EV charges will be added.


Motion to approve warrant made and passed unanimously.

Envisioning Holliston

Meeting will be held on Tuesday and public comments are welcome. The recommendations and other information may be found on the Envisioning Holliston section of the town’s website.

Travis ran through a variety of issues and stated we need to handle communications better.

Some of the use of space during the 300th Celebration will be capitalized on as we move into this new plan. Robust infrastructure is still at the top of the list and has been for decades. Sewer, water infrastructure ties back to other priorities as well. 

There are several actionable items which have not been voted on by Envisioning Holliston and Travis indicated he’s happy to take comments/questions back to them at the meeting tomorrow.

Ben stated this is only a first step, and will be ongoing. The intention is a 5 year strategic plan and should be looked at regularly as things change.  It does not do any good to look at 10 year old plans and work from there. We have to think in terms of this is not a set it and forget it, it is going to take work.

Travis agrees, we need to work forward and we want to check in annually to track progress to make sure that we stay on track. There are a lot of things that require Select Board input and others which require other stakeholders’ involvement.

Tina said the Envision Holliston committee has worked very hard and she is appreciative of their efforts. 

See under environmental priorities some changes Mass Audubon regarding sanctuary

Financial stability there is language that should change “impose” to “adopt and implement”

Regarding traffic plans – we hear a lot of traffic concerns and highlight the need for a long-range traffic safety plan. Would like to see the strategic plan call that out.

To incorporate the YMCA facility in Ashland. She has met with Rick casually and their plan is available and we should consider aligning their plan with ours.

Infrastructure – highlight completing the rail trail – Metrowest Greenway Coalition – the completion would be a benefit that goes beyond recreation.

John also shared comments – -collectively it’s important to take a breath and see how far we have come. The team has made some progress, and this group sees additional priorities. The nice thing is having the information public is helpful to everyone. John wants to know what the next steps are – and Travis reported that this will be worked into the 2025 budget and a final presentation will be available and have in the FY25 budget package. Explanation of how it ties back to the strategic plan and includes cost benefit analysis and a final document which can be presented to the Select Board and others. Not everything relates back to the budget, but some things need to be phased in and resources will have to be allocated to complete some of these projects.

John stressed this is NOT a master plan. Have we heard anything from the Planning Board about updating the master plan? Travis indicates they have not had anything new regarding updating the old master plan.

Travis: Schedules for next week: Update from Ms. Greenblatt and a discussion of the Town’s Finance Policies (November 20 agenda)

Getting into the 2025 budget process. Department head progress reports have been distributed and will be discussing some components.

Future agenda items: Since 8/2020 from the public – discussion about renaming a section of Lowland Street from the Rail Trail to Woodland Street. Official request to change to a different name – December 11th is preferable. There is a process in place to change names of streets and this is something that would require Board approval.

Invitation which was sent out to the board for completion of the project on Central Street for ribbon cutting.

Other Business: 300th Anniversary Celebration

Bob Blair asking for funding for the three different events:

  1. St Patrick’s Day breakfast on 3/17  $2500
  2. Laser light show on 7/4 – $4500 (final cost closer to $9K) (Legion & VFW)
  3. Open Concert Claflin Hill Orchestra at Blair Square in August – $3500

The Celebrate Holliston group has approved these projects but they do not have the funding for these projects.

Ben: Is the St Patrick’s day event the entire cost?

Would also like to see a better process for the funding for Celebrate Holliston to not give the impression any member of the public can approach the board for funding of events for this celebration. 

John reminded the board that Theresa and Lisa have been in several times and they have received some funding from the town. The only funds they currently have available is the $30K which was provided by the town. John feels these expenses presented are merely incidentals and we should not have a problem approving them. Ben expressed that his only objective is to ensure there is a process in place that is being followed for approving disbursement of funds. He’s fine with the requests, just wants to ensure that we’re taking care of the funds since the Board is the “caretaker” of those funds.

Tina asked for clarification on St Patrick’s Day – if tickets are being sold, does that mean that the $2500 is seed money and will be returned to the town? Bobbie answered that yes, it would. Tina also expressed her concern that the St. Patricks Day event would have limited attendance even though tickets are being sold due to size limitations of facilities who can handle this type of event in Holliston.

Ben expressed a concern that there was no mechanism for the Town to collect funds back, that it might be better diverted to Celebrate Holliston. Warrant items don’t really have a replacement method that is clean. It may be necessary to have Celebrate Holliston funds to do the initial funding for this and states the committee has been very good about working with the town on matters such as this.

Motion made to approve funding for St Patricks as provided above with amendment to have Travis work with Celebrate Holliston for “refunding”.  Motions to approve other funding without condition – motions seconded and passed unanimously.

Other Business

Ben – 

Tina – has submitted information regarding meeting with DOT regarding changes in speed limits.

Travis – Request from Holliston Lions for Light Up Holliston on 11/25. This will have to be on next weeks agenda. Large list of sponsors including Superette, Middlesex Bank, Griffin Electric. Volunteers from Holliston Lions & Leos Clubs and help from the DPW with bucket trucks. There was also a discussion with this request regarding the Holliston Stroll. Motion to approve “Light Up Holliston” campaign made by Ben and seconded by Tina motion made and carried. John thanked the Lions.

John: we gathered at 6pm to present our Humanitarian Award, it was started by Mark Ahronian. Honorees information can be seen on HCAT. They join a list of notable people who have received this award in the past and we thank them for their service.

Doreen Martel


  1. Pam Zikco on November 16, 2023 at 3:29 pm

    Congratulations Steve Bradford, Leslie and Jonathan Gerber and Barbara Ryan on your Humanitarian Awards! Well deserved and an inspiration for the rest of us!

  2. Bill Fawkes on November 17, 2023 at 10:26 am

    Hope changing the name of a section of lowland street isn’t a ploy to circumvent the votes of town meeting.

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