Globe South Community briefing

Voters to decide tax increase in Abington

July 19, 2009
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The immediate working future of about 50 public employees - including several police officers, firefighters, and Town Hall employees, as well as 41 teachers - is expected to be settled by a special election next weekend. Voters on Saturday will weigh a request for a $1.7 million property-tax increase earmarked to save the positions. Town Meeting last month approved a budget of $42.3 million for the fiscal year that started July 1, based on the Proposition 2 1/2 override’s approval in the townwide vote. - Robert Carroll

BAND RETURNS TO SUNSET LAKE - Continuing a tradition, the town’s Sunset Concert Series on Tuesday will present Ronnie Lewis and the Expedition, the third appearance at Sunset Lake for the six-member oldies group. The free shows are held each week from 6 to 8 p.m. at the lake’s beachfront gazebo. Audience members are advised to bring a blanket or beach chair. Parking is limited. - Matt Carroll

STUDIO COMING INTO FOCUS - The town is going ahead with plans for a local cable-access television studio, using money paid by cable customers and channeled through the town’s service provider, Comcast. Town Manager William Griffin said Comcast closed its regional studio on July 1. Without the facility, the town can still broadcast selectmen’s meetings directly from Town Hall, but no other local programming, he said. Plans call for building a studio at Town Hall and forming a nonprofit group to run it. Griffin said the company has given the town about $25,000 from its local fees, and plans to provide another $75,000 this year. - Johanna Seltz

FILMS AT PERFORMING ARTS CENTER - The Performing Arts Center, the town-owned auditorium at 73 Alden St., is showing films supplied by the Coolidge Corner Theatre, a popular nonprofit art house in Brookline. The screenings will take place Saturday evenings through Aug. 22 (although the series will skip Aug. 1), with different films shown at 7 and 9 p.m. Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $7 for children 14 and under. This Saturday’s screenings are “Food, Inc.’’ at 7 p.m. and “The Girl from Monaco’’ at 9 p.m. The lineup for the rest of the series is available online at, or by calling the center’s box office at 781-934-7612. - Robert Knox

BUILDER FOR SENIOR CENTER - Local seniors could be walking through the doors of a new community center as early as next March. The town’s Senior Center Building Committee last week selected Woburn-based Seaver Construction Inc. to build a 7,250-square-foot facility off Center Street. Committee Chairman John Thompson said Seaver’s bid of $2.72 million was the lowest among 19 companies vying for the job, and came in $300,000 below the projected cost that the town had set aside two years ago. “I’m not exactly sure what we’ll do with the difference,’’ said Thompson. “We could use it for needed equipment or landscape improvements.’’ He said construction workers should begin building a road into the property and clearing the site by the end of the month. The contract calls for the project to be completed within 270 days, he said. - Robert Carroll

DELAY FOR DEMOLITION DEBATE - The town’s Historical Commission will have to wait to convene a Town Meeting discussion on extending the waiting period before a historic property can be demolished. The commission wants the waiting period under Hingham’s demolition-delay bylaw to go from six months to a year, and chairman Alexander MacMillan said the panel had proposed raising the issue during the Aug. 3 Special Town Meeting. However, selectmen opted to limit the session to articles having to do with the naming of the Dorothy Galo Elementary School. - L.E. Crowley

GRANT TO HELP REPLACE WINDOWS - The Massachusetts Historical Commission recently awarded the town a $40,000 matching grant to help replace and keep historically correct the second-floor windows at Town Hall, said Town Administrator Michael Yunits. Town Meeting voters had approved spending $100,000 toward the project as part of the matching grant’s requirements, Yunits said. The state agency had previously provided Holbrook with funds to replace windows on the historic building’s lower level. Yunits said he expects that a formal request for bids on the work will go out this fall, and the project completed before next July. - Kate Augusto

NEW SPLIT FOR BEACH PARKING FEES - The town will get a portion of the money that beachgoers pay at the state-owned parking lots at Nantasket Beach this summer. The money will be funneled through the Nantasket Beach Reservation Trust Fund to pay for the town’s police and fire expenses associated with the state-owned beach. The new arrangement, included in the state’s new budget, will increase the parking fees to $7 a day, or $4 for senior citizens.

- Johanna Seltz

PROTECTING THE COASTLINE - Officials from Kingston, Duxbury, and Plymouth and representatives from the state’s Office of Coastal Zone Management met recently in Kingston’s Town Hall to discuss strategies for protecting the 60 miles of coastline the three towns share. Kingston hosted the event after the town’s conservation agent, Maureen Thomas, wrote a successful grant request for a pilot program to prevent coastal damage from severe storms. The towns are applying planning, regulatory, and mapping tools developed by the state agency to prepare for the fall hurricane season, officials said. The towns also discussed launching an awareness campaign to boost local support for land-use practices that reduce the risk of storm damage. - Robert Knox

A CALL FOR FEEDBACK - Selectmen, looking for feedback from residents, are holding a three-stop “listening tour’’ that starts tomorrow evening at St. Ann’s Parish Hall. “The purpose is to give residents a chance to share concerns, interests, opinions and praises about town government with the Board of Selectmen,’’ the board announced recently. Each meeting will focus on specific neighborhoods, with the first covering the Brant Rock, Green Harbor, Fieldston, Rexhame and Ocean Bluff beach neighborhoods. The second meeting will be held Aug. 3 at First Congregational Church Hall and focus on downtown and Marshfield Center. The final meeting, on Aug. 17 at the GAR Hall, will cover Marshfield Hills and North Marshfield. All meetings are scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. - Johanna Seltz

TOWN MOVES UP MONEY’S LIST - Milton is once again a top-10 finisher in Money magazine’s “Best Places to Live’’ list, coming in fifth in the nationwide survey. The magazine described the town, which placed seventh on its 2007 list, as “full of historic homes, tree-lined streets, and well-tended gardens, plus lots of parks and playgrounds.’’ The recent issue featuring “Money’s list of America’s best small towns’’ also cites the high cost of housing in Milton, and notes that it is not crime-free, mentioning a drive-by shooting last summer and the family tragedy that left three siblings dead in March. This year’s Money list was led by Louisville, Colo. The next New England town on the list is Acton, at 16th. - Matt Carroll

TEACHER FACES HEARING OVER NOTE - A physics teacher at South Shore Charter Public School is scheduled to appear in Hingham District Court on July 27 for a hearing to decide whether he will face charges stemming from a note he allegedly wrote during a class last month. Police Chief Ted Ross said in an e-mail that the show-cause hearing next Monday will be handled by a clerk-magistrate. Max Yarmolinksy, 25, was escorted from the Longwater Circle charter school last month after administrators contacted police about a note that the teacher had allegedly doodled during class. A student reportedly took the note off Yarmolinsky’s desk and parents contacted school officials about it. Police described the note as “disturbing’’ and “violent,’’ but would not offer more detail about its contents. School officials declined to comment on the matter. - L.E. Crowley

FREE CONCERTS IN FULL SWING - The town Recreation Department’s annual Entertainment on the Green concert series kicked off last weekend. The free family-oriented concerts will be held every Sunday through Aug. 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. on the town green. Because it has no budget for the annual series, the Recreation Department relies on bands that are willing to donate their time and talent, according to director Pam Rowell. She said she was pleased that the town was able to book a concert for every Sunday, and offered thanks to the bands, noting, “Without them, this wouldn’t be possible.’’ - John Laidler

FOCUS ON BREAST HEALTH - Jordan Hospital has started construction on an expansion project focus ing on breast health. The 5,500-square-foot Breast Center will offer an array of services, including advanced digital mammography, MRI, and ultrasound imaging, officials announced recently. Designed by JACA Architects of Quincy, the $1.6 million facility is being built by a Quincy contractor, Lee Kennedy Co. Officials expect it to be ready by Oct. 5. - Emily Sweeney

AQUARIUM EYES LOCAL SITE - The New England Aquarium might be coming to Quincy - sort of. The Boston waterfront institution has been looking for what it calls an “offsite holding facility’’ for about a year, said spokesman Tony LaCasse, and thinks it might have found a place at the Fore River Shipyard. The 17,000-square-foot facility, which would not be open to the public, would house creatures not ready to be exhibited downtown, and serve as headquarters for the aquarium’s marine-animal rescue team. The city is working with landlord Jay Cashman Inc. and the aquarium on getting permits, with a target of opening next year.

- Matt Carroll

BEAUTY BY THE YARD - Selectmen are again holding a Great Neighbors contest to reward property owners who have beautiful landscaping. “This is an opportunity to recognize those folks that work hard to improve their properties, and thus their entire neighborhood,’’ said Dave Murphy, the board’s executive secretary. “It may also be an incentive for some to get out in the yard and do more.’’ This year, 12 residential and six commercial winners will be picked at random to receive gift certificates from a garden center. To nominate someone for the contest, e-mail the property owner’s name, address, and reason for nomination to, or call the selectmen’s office at 781-961-0911. The contest will remain open through Labor Day, with the winners chosen in September. - Wendy Chow

NEW CHIEF AT HELM - The town has a new fire chief, Robert A. DiPoli, who takes over Aug. 3. He succeeds Acting Chief William Ferguson, who stepped in after Michael Sammon retired in November. DiPoli, 60, of Medfield, was appointed Monday by the Board of Selectmen. “We are thrilled to have someone of the caliber of Robert DiPoli,’’ Town Administrator Allan R. Chiocca said. DiPoli retired as Needham’s fire chief in 2004 after 15 years to serve a term as president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and is the author of “Leadership Under Fire.’’ He is expected to serve up to a year while selectmen consider such options as combining the fire and police chiefs under a public safety director. Salary has yet to be negotiated. - Steve Hatch

PLANS AFOOT FOR DUATHLON - Hundreds of runners and bikers are expected to hit the streets of Scituate this fall for a duathlon recently approved by selectmen. The family-friendly competition will feature a 1.72-mile run, 11.81-mile bicycle ride, and a 3.13-mile combination. Register for the Oct. 17 race at The $50 entry fee ($95 for teams) will support three charities: Friendship Home in Hingham and Norwell; Women Living Authentically, at Wellesley College; and the Boston chapter of Girls on the Run. - L.E. Crowley

WATERFRONT VISION - The mayor wants to bring tourists to the local waterfront as a way to generate money for the town. “We have 12 miles of beautiful shoreline that hopefully we can open up to tourism,’’ said Mayor Susan Kay. She said possibilities include opening the town’s sailing and kayaking programs to nonresidents and bringing in whale-watching boats. “There’s no timeline,’’ she said. “We’re just evaluating it now.’’ - Johanna Seltz