Globe West Community briefing

Acton selectmen oppose highgrove plan

February 14, 2010

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The Board of Selectmen is opposing a 64-unit affordable housing project proposed for a property extending from Stow into Acton. The selectmen voted to send a letter of opposition to the state outlining their concerns, including traffic, septic issues, and housing density, chairwoman Paulina Knibbe said. She said the Highgrove Estates proposal would have 56 homes on 37 acres in Stow and eight on 5 acres in Acton. Knibbe said because the property is in both towns, the developer must apply for permits from both of them. - Jennifer Fenn Lefferts

MONEY FOR COMMUTER GARAGE - The Board of Selectmen has asked the Fitchburg-based Montachusett Area Regional Transit Authority to ask the Federal Transit Authority for some of the $7.1 million appropriated four years ago to be released for a parking garage at Park and Main streets, near the commuter rail station. Town officials have said they would like an architectural-engineering study of the garage to get underway this spring. - Davis Bushnell

PARENT SERIES WINS AWARD - The town was one of three communities statewide honored recently with the Kenneth E. Pickard Municipal Innovation Award. It was bestowed on the town’s Department of Youth and Family Services last month during the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s annual meeting in Boston. The Bedford agency was recognized for the strength of its Parent Education Series, a yearlong cycle of lectures and discussions on a wide range of aspects of child development. To view upcoming events in the Parent Education Series, contact the Department of Youth and Family Services at 781-275-7727, or visit its page at

- Nancy Shohet West

DEVELOPER UPDATES SELECTMEN - The developer of the Riverbridge project gave a progress report at a recent Board of Selectmen’s meeting. Residents voted in December to approve a zoning change that allows Chris Senie to build a mixed-used development on 114 acres near the rotary in south Berlin. The plan calls for 90 units in a continual-care retirement community, plus 115 housing units and 130,000 square feet of commercial space. The housing would help the town meet a state threshold for affordable units and protect itself from unwanted development under Chapter 40B regulations. Peggy Sardell, the secretary for the Board of Selectmen, said the project is on track to break ground in September, starting with the commercial property. - Jennifer Fenn Lefferts

SLIGHT HIKE IN SCHOOL BUDGET - School officials are weighing a spending plan for the Nashoba Regional School District that would be an increase of just $42,947 over this year’s budget, according to the district website. The budget proposal calls for no program cuts, although it anticipates a loss of approximately $324,000 in Chapter 70 state education aid compared with this year. The district’s total proposed budget for next fiscal year is $44.16 million.

- Matt Gunderson

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED - The Board of Selectmen is seeking volunteers to serve on town boards. There are vacancies on the Airport Study Committee, Conservation Commission, Personnel Board, and the Steele Farm Committee. The Personnel Board is seeking two members. For more information, contact Town Administrator Selina Shaw at 978-263-116, ext. 101.

- Jennifer Fenn Lefferts

STUDENTS RAISE MONEY FOR HAITI - Students at Tahanto Regional Middle/High School have raised $1,106 in donations for relief efforts in Haiti, and will divide the money evenly between the American Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. The money was collected at school lunches in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti last month. - Matt Gunderson

MORE FUNDS FOR LIBRARY - The town’s Gleason Public Library sidestepped a recent threat of decertification by reappearing in front of the Finance Committee to clarify misconceptions resulting from an earlier budget hearing. Director Angela Mollet explained that contrary to the Finance Committee’s earlier impression, budget cuts would significantly affect staffing and operations. After further discussion, the library trustees and the Finance Committee agreed to work with a target budget figure for next fiscal year of approximately $500,000, rather than the $479,000 that the committee had set at a previous meeting - Nancy Shohet West

PLANS FOR GALA 375TH - Concord is celebrating its 375th birthday this year. A committee was put together to organize events and raise funds for the celebration, which will take place in September. The town was officially founded on Sept. 12, 1635. The group needs $60,000 for the celebration and planned to ask the taxpayers for $25,000. But Selectman Stanly Black, the board’s chairman, said the group now hopes to raise the total privately. For information about the celebration or to donate, e-mail - Jennifer Fenn Lefferts

LICENSE YOUR DOG - This year’s dog licenses are now available. Remember, if you own a dog 6 months old or older, state law requires that it be licensed with the town. A current rabies vaccination must be on file with the town clerk before a license can be issued. Late fees and fines are assessed after March 1. If you have any questions, please contact Town Clerk Carol Skerrett at 978-649-4514, ext. 222, or e-mail - John M. Guilfoil

CULTURAL COUNCIL RECEPTION - The town’s Cultural Council will host a reception at the Groton Public Library from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 25. The council will be announcing the recipients of this year’s grants, which support local cultural and educational activities, and provide information about the process for future applicants. Refreshments will be served. For more details, e-mail Harrie Slootbeek at - John M. Guilfoil

TOWN CAUCUS ON MARCH 6 - The annual town caucus for the spring election will be held on March 6. The May 4 ballot will include 20 openings for town positions, including seats on the Board of Selectmen, Planning Board, School Committee, Board of Health, Community Preservation Committee, and Housing Authority. The caucus, which will place the names of nominees on the ballot, will convene at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall meeting room. - Davis Bushnell

TRAINING FOR FIREFIGHTERS - The Fire Department was recently awarded a grant that will go to training firefighters to perform emergency services. The $26,105 grant, awarded by the federal Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters program, is given to municipal fire departments to help them enhance services. After a monthlong application period, proposals are evaluated based on the cost of the project, the community’s financial need, and the likelihood of a positive outcome for both the firefighters and the town. Hudson’s grant will be used to provide rapid intervention training, which responds to firefighters injured on the job. Fire Chief John Blood says all firefighters in Hudson will be trained. “It’s specialized training, wherein if a firefighter is trapped or injured on the scene, another firefighter knows the proper response,’’ Blood said. “We’ve never had a situation like that in Hudson, but we don’t believe in letting things happen in our own backyard before we do something to prepare.’’

- Sarah Thomas

SCHOOL BUSES GREENER - The air in Lincoln is a little bit cleaner after a long-awaited retrofit to the school department’s buses was installed. Buck Creel, the district’s administrator for business and finance, said the state Department of Environmental Protection began a clean diesel program in July 2008. The program, called Clean Air for Kids, was designed to reduce school bus emissions by making modifications to buses to cut the amount of pollution generated by the diesel engines. Creel said that after being on a waiting list since the program kicked off, the buses of the town’s contractor were all retrofitted last month. Additionally, Creel said, the district has more strictly enforced its no-idling rule, which prohibits drivers from idling their engines for more than five minutes. After some initial reminders, the no-idling rule has almost universal compliance this year, he said.

- Adam J.V. Sell

NOMINATION PAPERS AVAILABLE - Nomination papers are now available from the town clerk for candidates interested in running for offices on the May ballot. Candidates have until March 19 to submit their nomination papers. The election will take place on May 8. For more information, contact Town Clerk Diane Crory at 978-540-2401. - Nancy Shohet West

SPORTS CENTER WANTS A SIXTH RINK - New England Sports Center has filed a request to add a sixth skating rink by next winter. The sports complex, which boasted four rinks when it opened in 1994, added a fifth rink in 2004. Construction of the sixth rink would require building an addition to the 159,000-square-foot facility. “We hope when we get it done, it will look like it was always there, and have very little impact on parking and traffic,’’ said the property’s owner, Larue Renfroe. Renfroe said the additional rink would allow the center to become the home ice for more high school hockey teams, as well as offer more training facilities for both professional hockey teams and internationally renowned figure skaters. - Sarah Thomas

COMMUNITY CHEST ANNUAL MEETING - The Maynard Community Chest’s annual meeting on Tuesday will be the first for new president Jennifer Ubaldino, who took over the position vacated by former president Shari Belanger in August. Ubaldino presided over a successful donation campaign last fall, which saw the nonprofit fund-raising organization exceed its donation goal despite an economic recession. This year, Ubaldino hopes to meet or exceed some of the donation records set last year, such as the $8,000 raised for the organization’s Community Chest Challenge triathlon. To that end, she said she hopes the community turns out in force for the annual meeting, which will feature refreshments as well as presentations by members of two of the group’s recipients, Concord’s Minuteman ARC and the Maynard Girl Scouts. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Maynard Public Library. For more information, visit - Sarah Thomas

CONTRA DANCE ON SATURDAY - Area residents looking for a something new and exciting to try are invited to attend Northborough’s community Contra Dance on Saturday. The contra dance, a New England tradition, is set to live music and features a number of simple folk-inspired steps that are announced by the caller. At Saturday’s gathering the featured musical guest is the Polymorphous String Band. The dance begins at 8 p.m., but beginners are encouraged to come at 7:45 for some personal instruction. All the steps will also be “walked through” by the caller throughout the night. Bringing a partner is not necessary, as it is customary to ask a new partner for each dance. Wearing soft-soled shoes is advised. Admission is $8 adults, $6 students and $18 per family, and includes home-baked refreshments at the break. The dance will be held in the Unitarian Universalist Parish Hall, 40 Church St. For more information, visit or contact Gary Phillips at 508-393-5490. - Jennifer Roach


WOMEN’S CLUB SCHOLARSHIPS - The Pepperell Women’s Club is accepting applications for scholarships from graduating high school seniors who plan to continue their education in the fall. Local students can contact for more information. - John M. Guilfoil

TOWN MEETING OK’S SCHOOL PROJECT - Town Meeting members voted last week to approve the more than $47 million estimated price tag for construction of a new middle school. The voice vote - which Sandra Wright, town clerk, said passed by an “overwhelming majority’’ - sets the stage for a townwide vote on March 2 on whether to raise property taxes to cover a portion of the cost. Town Manager Daniel Morgado said a state grant could cover approximately $24 million, leaving the balance to be covered by local taxpayers. If the proposed Proposition 2 1/2 override passes, Shrewsbury homeowners are expected to see an average increase of about $175 per year to their property taxes, starting in 2014. Some residents have objected to the plan, maintaining that the new construction is unnecessary and that Shrewsbury homeowners cannot afford higher taxes. Morgado conceded that “any increase in taxes is of concern to us.’’ But he added: “The value that’s provided by this utility, a 50-year solution for grades five through six, will over time prove to be the most cost-effective solution that could have been selected.’’ Polls will be open on March 2 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Ballot locations are listed online at Absentee ballots will be taken until noon on March 1. - James O’Brien

GETTING CLOSE ON THE TOWN BUDGET - Selectmen on Thursday are hosting what they hope will be the final discussion with town department heads regarding the budget for fiscal year 2011, which starts in July. Last week, the Board of Selectmen presented their thoughts on the ideal budget situation, with Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuef circulating an e-mail in which she listed all the areas where she felt more money could be cut. One of the biggest hits she is proposing is to the Department of Public Works, where she suggested reducing grounds costs by $10,000 and saving $19,220 by closing Fayville Hall, moving Youth and Family Services to a school building and moving the Cable Department to the Arts Center. She also listed cuts of $18,000 from police overtime, $15,000 from the treasurer’s department, $15,000 from the library and an additional $12,476 from the Youth Commission. The largest question mark in the budget, however, is the total school budget. The Board of Selectmen has asked to have more concrete numbers from the schools for Thursday’s budget meeting, being held at 6 p.m. in the Town House, 17 Common Street. - Jennifer Roach

STONE BUILDING CAN BE DEMOLISHED - Plans to demolish an old stone building on the Center School site will not pose a threat to the state’s historical resources, the Massachusetts Historic Commission has ruled. Once used as an apple storage barn, the old fieldstone building was so significantly altered in 1954 that its historical integrity has been compromised, the commission decided. School officials plan to level the building as part of a $38 million renovation and expansion of the elementary school. - Matt Gunderson

CHAT WITH THE SUPERINTENDENT - The school district’s superintendent, John Brackett, will hold his monthly coffee and chat session with parents and community members Feb. 24. These meetings have no set agenda, and no presentations are made, so the topics for discussion are entirely up to the community members that attend, Brackett says. The meeting at Nixon Elementary School, 472 Concord Road, will begin at 9 a.m. - Adam J.V. Sell

NEW POLICE CONTRACT - A new three-year contract between the town and the Sudbury police union includes a 5 percent increase in health insurance premiums for the first year and 2.5 percent each of the next two years. The contract also provides a 4 percent raise for the first year, retroactive to Nov. 1. The town will continue to completely fund Quinn Bill benefits, for officers with eligible education credits, in exchange for some concessions, including cutting officers’ hazardous duty stipend by $100 per year and adding 15 minutes to the end of each shift. But employees hired after last July will no longer receive Quinn Bill benefits; instead they will receive a town-based educational incentive benefit plan, similar to one provided by the town before it adopted the statewide Quinn program in 1983. - John M. Guilfoil

TALKING TO KIDS ABOUT ALCOHOL - Three Wayland organizations are joining forces to sponsor a discussion about the dangers of under-age drinking and how parents can broach the subject with their teenage children. WaylandCares, Wayland Youth and Family Services, and the Wayland Public Library are cosponsoring the conversation about when and how parents can bring up the topic of alcohol with their children. Dr. Dossie Kahn and Ann Drouilhet will lead the forum at Trinitarian Congregational Church, 53 Cochituate Road, on Feb. 24 at 7:15 p.m.

- Adam J.V. Sell

DEMOCRATS TO CAUCUS - Registered Democrats living in Westborough are invited to attend the town’s party caucus next Sunday. Those in attendance will have the opportunity to elect the town’s representative delegates and alternates for the 2010 Massachusetts Democratic Convention, which will be held June 4 and 5 at the DCU Center in Worcester. This year’s convention will primarily focus on the state elections this fall, in which both Governor Deval Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray are running for reelection. Candidates will need at least 15 percent of the delegates’ votes this June to get their names on the ballot. Those wishing to get involved as a delegate, an add-on delegate, or as a volunteer are encouraged to attend the caucus, which begins at 6 p.m. at the Forbes Municipal Building, 45 West Main Street. For more information on the caucus, contact Kate Donaghue at or at 508-404-8531. - Jennifer Roach

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