Globe West Community briefing

Needham Town Meeting lineup

September 21, 2008
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The warrant for the Oct. 27 Special Town Meeting will be closed at Tuesday's Board of Selectmen meeting. The warrant will include a request for about $5.5 million for the new Public Services Administration building on Dedham Avenue, according to Town Manager Kate Fitzpatrick. There is also a placeholder for renovation of the Newman School, which has a temporary heating and ventilation system in place to correct air pollution problems that arose earlier this year. The amount to be requested for the school has not yet been determined, Fitzpatrick said last week. - Lisa Kocian

BACK PAY FOR FIREFIGHTERS - Aldermen last week approved a $6.1 million appropriation for five years of retroactive salary raises for Newton firefighters. Firefighters will have their paychecks adjusted to a new rate beginning Thursday, after forgoing raises for five years while locked in a contract battle with the city. An Aug. 6 binding arbitration ruling from the Joint Labor-Management Committee settled the dispute. The money will come from the city's wage reserve account, which is funded each year based on the city's outstanding contracts, said city spokesman Jeremy Solomon. Firefighters will receive the retroactive pay next month. - Rachana Rathi

EMERGENCY VOLUNTEERS SOUGHT - The city's Medical Reserve Corps will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Arthur Clark Government Center on School Street. The reserve units, a federal initiative, have been launched all over the country since Sept. 11, 2001. Medical professionals and others volunteer their time to train for local emergencies. The Waltham meeting, which is open to the public, will cover the upcoming training schedule. Volunteers are still needed, according to coordinator John Langley, who can be reached at 781-314-3307. For more information, go to and click on the Medical Reserves Corps link under Community.

- Lisa Kocian

ANTICIPATING A CROWD - Expecting a larger-than-normal turnout this week, the Town Council will move its Tuesday meeting from Town Hall to the Watertown Middle School auditorium. During the session, representatives from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts are expected to talk about the company's financial support for the Anti-Defamation League's No Place For Hate program. Last month, the council sent a letter to Blue Cross executives requesting the face-to-face meeting and urging the healthcare insurance company to withdraw its support in light of the ongoing controversy between Armenian-Americans and the ADL over recognition of the Armenian genocide. - Christina Pazzanese

HONORING REV. BARBAS - In a final farewell today, parishioners and friends of Taxiarchae-Archangels Greek Orthodox Church will celebrate the elevation of its pastor to a new position in the denomination's hierarchy. The Rev. Theodore J. Barbas, who was ordained at Taxiarchae-Archangels in 1996 and served there as an assistant pastor until he was elevated to pastor in January 2001, was named chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston in June. He was active in a number of community organizations and diversity events. Councilor Angeline Kounelis, a church member, will ask the Town Council to approve a proclamation recognizing Barbas during its meeting Tuesday night.

- Christina Pazzanese

JEWISH SCHOOL EXPANDING - The Jewish Community Day School plans to expand its operation in Watertown thanks to a recent $8.75 million bond from the federal government. The Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, which administers the federal funding, said the school obtained the tax-exempt bond to purchase the 43,200-square-foot building and 5-acre property at 57 Stanley Ave. it has been leasing, and to buy a 2.9-acre parcel nearby. School officials said by January, they will have a five-year plan that will lay out the expansion, which they expect to include new playing fields as well as additional educational facilities and parking. Founded in 1995, the school has 176 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, and blends general studies with a Judaic curriculum in which students learn in both English and Hebrew. - Christina Pazzanese

FORUM ON SCHOOL CHANGES - Construction of Wellesley's new high school is still at least a year away, but school officials are wasting no time in preparing parents for the changes that will occur during construction. Superintendent Bella Wong sent out a notice last week that the School Committee will host a special forum for parents of all public school students to talk about the impact of the construction. The forum is slated for Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium. - Lisa Keen

COURSE OFFERS EMERGENCY TRAINING - To help residents be prepared in the event of a major catastrophe, the town's Board of Health and Emergency Reserve Corps will host a course on emergency preparedness beginning this week. The course will cover a variety of areas, including how to prepare your family for a crisis, assembling a three-day survival kit, and training to join the Region 4A Medical Reserve Corps, a volunteer body that assists local public safety leaders in managing responses during public health emergencies or natural disasters. The seven-part session starts Tuesday at 7 p.m. and runs weekly through Nov. 4 at the Community Center, 20 Alphabet Lane. The cost is $50 for those with a town Recreation Department badge and $60 for others. It is free for members of the Medical Reserve Corps. For more information, call the Board of Health at 781-893-7320, ext. 332. - Christina Pazzanese

PROGRESS ON BULLARD HOUSE - Repairs and renovations are almost complete on the Bullard House, an 18th-century town-owned property in Berlin Center. Berlin Arts & Historical Society president Richard Wheeler recently said the town's Highway Department, resident volunteers, and others had been working on the project alongside a private contractor, who is set to complete $20,000 worth of work by the end of the year. The house needs plastering and carpentry repairs inside, he said. Donations to the effort can be made to the society at PO Box 35, Berlin, MA 01503.

- John Dyer

CENTURY MILL UPDATE - After gaining a permit for a 71-unit subdivision along Century Mill Road last year, a developer is finalizing other approvals that will allow the project to begin, said Town Planner Jennifer Atwood Burney. The Planning Board is mulling a performance guarantee with the developer, Merchant Financial Investment Corp. of Natick, which would ensure that the project's streets and utility connections are built according to the original plans, said Burney. The Conservation Commission is also reviewing a petition by the developer to restrict some of the property as open space, she said. - Matt Gunderson

GENZYME GALA TOMORROW - Genzyme Corp. is hosting a grand opening tomorrow for its $125 million science center at 49 New York Ave., in the Framingham Industrial Park off Route 9. The 10 a.m. event will include appearances by US Representative Edward Markey and Governor Deval Patrick, as well as tours of the 180,000-square-foot building. Approximately 350 employees will work in the building on research related to genetic diseases, cancer, and diseases of the immune system, according to the company's website. Genzyme's Framingham campus now represents the company's largest concentration of employees worldwide, with more than 2,000 employees in 14 buildings, the website says.

-Tanya Pérez-Brennan

CAFE LICENSE IN LINE FOR OK - Selectmen tomorrow are expected to approve the town's second beer and wine license for a restaurant, Town Administrator Paul LeBeau said. The board first endorsed the application for the license by Pejamajo Cafe, which is planned for 770 Washington St., in June. The state approved the license this month. - Calvin Hennick

POLYARTS FESTIVAL - The Hopkinton Polyarts Festival will be held Saturday on the Town Common from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event began in 1974 as a showcase for local artists. It now features more than 75 artists from throughout New England. For information, e-mail

- Calvin Hennick

BUSINESS GROUP GROWING - The Hudson Business Association now has 20 members, according to Arthur Redding, owner of Hudson Appliance. Redding and other local business owners formed the group a few months ago to help attract merchants to Hudson's downtown, which has undergone refurbishment through millions of dollars in public grants but has been slow to expand its commercial base. The association also recently hired a broker who specializes in marketing empty storefronts. The broker has found clients to rent an office space and a retail space on Main Street, said Redding. -John Dyer

LOOKING OUT FOR VETERANS - The town has recently added a page on the municipal website detailing its programs for former military personnel, according to its veterans' services officer, Priscilla Leach. The site offers information about Leach's office and provides links to state and federal resources for veterans. The town department offers "emergency financial or medical assistance programs for veterans in need, educational benefits, real estate tax abatements, employment and training opportunities, burial information, and innumerable other benefits," the page states. For more information, visit, or call Leach at 781-259-4472.

- John M. Guilfoil

NIBBLE ON CONFERENCE CENTER - The company seeking to sell the Marlborough Conference Center on Locke Drive said a sale of the facility, which includes 223 hotel rooms, is being negotiated and could take place in the next few months. Amelia Lim, senior vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, declined to identify the potential buyer or discuss other details. The conference center had been used by Verizon for training courses, but has sat empty since the telecommunications company sold it to a hedge fund. John Riordan, executive director of the Marlborough 2010 Corporation, a quasipublic economic development agency, said he is anxious to see the sale finalized so that Marlborough could start attracting more out-of-towners to the city. - John Dyer

COUNTING ON STUDENT LABOR - Town officials are relying on Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School students to help keep costs down for an upcoming Town Hall renovation, which is expected to get going on Oct. 1, said Marie Morando, the Planning Board's administrative assistant. Morando said the total price tag of the project is not yet known, but the town will only have to pay for the cost of materials and supplies, since the students will do the work for free. The renovations will focus on the financial wing of Town Hall and are expected to be done within five months of the start date, she said. - Matt Gunderson

ZEROING IN ON RECREATION SITE - Parks and Recreation Commission members told selectmen last week that Hinkley Park, off Green Street, is their first choice for a site to build a recreation facility. Commissioners also had been considering McCarthy Park, off Hospital Road, but they told selectmen that the site would be difficult for children to walk or bike to because it isn't centrally located. Also, commissioners said, some recreation activities already are held at the swimming pond at Hinkley Park. Commissioners told selectmen they would hire an architect to make sure the Hinkley Park site is suitable for the proposed building, and also would meet with neighbors of the site. - Calvin Hennick

TEACHER OF YEAR - The Senator Louis P. Bertonazzi Foundation recently gave its annual Outstanding Teacher of the Year award to Alan DiFonzo. The Milford High School math teacher was honored at the Sept. 4 School Committee meeting. The other nominees recognized by the Milford nonprofit organization were Roselle Viegas of Shining Star Preschool; Laura Knotts of Memorial Elementary School; Darlene Risio of Brookside Elementary School; Pamela Larkin of Woodland Elementary School; Johanna Roy of Stacy Middle School; and Vincent Farese of Middle School East. - Anna Fiorentino

INSPECTORS CLOSE BRIDGE - The Whitney Street Bridge will be closed for approximately 12 to 18 months at the emergency order of state inspectors, who recently deemed the bridge unsafe. One lane had been closed since May while the state Highway Department worked to rebuild the bridge. It wasn't until Sept. 10 that the state decided to close both lanes for the remainder of the reconstruction project due to safety reasons. Dover-Sherborn school officials are revamping the regional district's bus routes affected by the bridge's closing. - Anna Fiorentino

CHURCH TO MEET WITH NEIGHBORS - Representatives from a proposed new Catholic church are working with neighbors to address their concerns, said Art Bartlett, a spokesman for the project. St. Gabriel the Archangel, a joint project of Upton and Mendon churches that plan to merge and form one parish, went before the Planning Board for the first time Sept. 9, and neighbors and board members expressed concerns about the height of the planned church and its proximity to residences. Bartlett said church representatives are scheduled to meet with neighbors tomorrow. The church goes before the Planning Board again on Tuesday. - Calvin Hennick

CHEAPER ELECTRICITY - Town officials expect to save around $7,000 by shifting its short-term electricity contract next month from National Grid to Constellation Energy. Officials also expect to sign a three- to five-year contract with Constellation or another energy provider that will save more money, Town Administrator Jack McFeeley said.

- Calvin Hennick

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