Monthly Archives: June 2012

Final local aid

DOR reports that its Division of Local Services has posted updated local aid estimates based on the legislature’s Conference Committee’s budget recommendations.  These are the cherry sheet numbers for Medfield, $7,051,687.   We gained about $210,000 over last year, $197,000 over the Governor’s budget this year, but for some reason lost a buck from the House’s budget numbers.  A lot of that gain may have been the extra $40/pupil that was put into local aid this year.

Selectmen appointments

The Board of Selectmen will be making its annual appointments of individuals to town boards at our meeting next Tuesday evening - see the list.   If you want to be considered for any of the positions on the various town boards, please let Evelyn Clarke or me know before the meeting on Tuesday evening and give us a CV to share with my colleagues so we can evaluate your credentials.   Thanks to all who volunteer their time and energies on town boards to make Medfield a better place for all of us.

The main difference between the town administrator form of municipal government that we have in Medfield and a town manager form of government that we could adopt, is that the Board of Selectmen make the appointments to boards instead of Mike Sullivan making those appointments.

Ch. 90 $ remains almost level

This email came yesterday from Dan Winslow’s office -

======================

Michael -

Medfield can expect to receive $401,430.00 in c. 90 funding for the 2013 fiscal year.  This is a decrease of $1,034.00 from the 2012 apportionment of               $402,464.00.

Please be in touch with any questions.

Best,

Nina

Nina S. Hong

Legislative Aide and Counsel

Office of State Rep. Dan Winslow

State House, Room 33

Boston, MA 02133-1054

Tel: 617-722-2060

Fax: 617-626-0602

MSH feasability study

DCAM last winter commissioned a Jones Lang LaSalle feasibility study of the former Medfield State Hospital site and DCAM this week released that study to Medfield.  No word as to why the study dated 4/20/12 had not been released until now.

This is the Executive Summary from the report -

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Jones Lang LaSalle has prepared a DRAFT Market Analysis Study for the Medfield State Hospital Site in Medfield, MA. The purposes of the study was to evaluate current market conditions for the major commercial real estate categories,recommend the most viable uses and mix of uses, and advise at a high level on the massing and form of future development as it relates to the market.

The study is intentionally limited to evaluating demographics and real estate market conditions. We have supplemented this infonnation in part with readily apparent observations of the location that will influence potential development demand. This study does not take into account possible constraints such as existing zoning regulations and roadway and utility capacity among others.  The study is intended to be the foundation document for a subsequent Comprehensive Re-Use Study which will take into account these other parameters.

There are two qualities of the location that influence potential demand across all property types; demographics and highway access.  First, the hospital property is located in a a suburban setting with above average economic demographics which should boost demand in all categories. Second, the property lacks convenient access to major roadways, which diminishes the opportunity for commercial office, industrial, and retail uses.
The most viable use categories include housing, recreation, health care, and continuing care retirement community which can be considered a combination of housing and health care. Within the housing sector, single family, condominium, and multifamily rental are all viable with multifamily being the strongest category currently due to current economic issues. The scale of the property, .L the strength of local demographics and the increasing demand for recreations space, both indoor and outdoor, make this use type one of the most interesting prospects. The aging of the population and the strength of the local demographics make the property an attractive location for healthcare related uses and continuing care retirement development.

Life sciences, institutional, and retail, are considered moderately viable use types. The strength of the life science sector in the region is a positive factor, but is offset by the lack of a local ‘cluster’ and the remoteness of the site. The site is well suited for an institutional use, especially for a retreat type use for daylong or multiday visits-but the demand for this category is limited. The local small establishment retail sector is strong with relatively high rents and low vacancy. The remoteness of the site, and lack of direct access to Rt. 27 are a hindrance and retail is likely to be viable only as a secondary or complimentary use.

Commercial office, industrial, and hospitality are the least viable use types. Of these offices space may have limited potential, in the form of a modest development catering to smaller businesses that cater to the local community. Lack of direct highway access will limit any industrial development to small , local scale only. The remoteness of the site limits opportunity for a hospitality use which typically desire higher visibility locations.

Massing of development on the property should be of modest scale, reflecting the suburban/near rural setting of the property. The location will not support structured parking. Generous open space should be included in any development type, and include walking and bike paths to take advantage of the setting.

On being a selectman

Last Thursday evening I attended, but never got around to reporting on, the Downtown Study Committee and the initial meeting of the Committee to be Named Later (the one studying what to do about the Medfield State Hospital).

The Downtown Study Committee considered

  • becoming a Tree City
  • putting utilities underground on North Street when the construction is performed.  NSTAR representative will attend the next meeting
  • sidewalk tree mulching
  • outdoor eating establishments

The new committee on the Medfield State Hospital heard updates from John Thompson, chair of SHERC on the environmental clean up and its current status, and from  Bill Massaro on the history of the redevelopment negotiations for the site, as well as the experiences of other former state hospital sites.

On being a selectman

Jim James and I have been discussing the space needs for his Park Street Books for months now, as he needed more space.  I made suggestions about possible other spaces in town that he might consider.  In reality, I think Jim knew the possible spaces better than I, except that I could include what I would think of as nontraditional spaces, such as the Montrose School’s Cushman House and the Clark Tavern – although Jim had already asked about the Cushman House years ago.  The Clark Tavern might be usable by a business under the town zoning provision that allows the ZBA to permit almost any use it likes that seeks to occupy a historic property.

Last Sunday Jim sought me out again about his space decision, so I checked out the size of one possibility, and he and I again talked through the Medfield options.  At the time, Jim was weighing space that he really, really liked in Millis.  Then, earlier this week Jim called to let me know that he had opted to stay in Medfield, and had signed to lease more space in his building.  He said it was mainly because of the connections that he felt with the people in Medfield.  He even cited a recent appreciative note he had received from a young girl.  So, congratulations Medfield on making one of our town’s best retailers feel so comfortable here amongst us!  Medfield is indeed fortunate to have Jim and his Park Street Books!  Jim says his store will be the third larger children’s bookstore in the country (NB – it would have become the largest if he had moved to Millis).

MMA’s statement on the state budget

The Massachusetts Municipal Association issued the following statement on the budget released by the legislature today -

Key Local Aid Programs $144M Higher than Budget Filed by Gov. in January

“Municipal leaders across the state applaud the leaders and members of the House and Senate for writing an outstanding state budget for cities and towns, and are deeply grateful to Speaker Robert DeLeo, President Therese Murray, Chairman Brian Dempsey, Chairman Stephen Brewer and the members of budget conference committee, Vice Chairman Stephen Kulik, Vice Chairman Jennifer Flanagan, Rep. Vinny deMacedo, and Sen. Michael Knapik.  Communities are struggling mightily to fund essential services, and the state budget before the Legislature today embraces a lasting fiscal partnership to strengthen municipal finances and provide funds for public safety, education and other vital local programs.

“By passing this budget, every legislator is demonstrating their commitment to local aid, and their determination to invest in cities and towns as an essential step in the state’s economic recovery.  The Legislature’s budget will increase fiscal 2013 municipal and education aid by approximately $144 million above the budget submitted by the Governor in January, and $289 million above  current fiscal 2012 levels, an outstanding achievement that will benefit every community in Massachusetts.”
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According to the MMA’s initial analysis of the budget, the key proposals in the Legislature’s fiscal 2013 state budget include the following:
• Guaranteed funding for unrestricted municipal aid of $899 million, by adding $65 million to the base Cherry Sheet distribution, instead of relying on a tentative supplemental distribution later in the year.
• Adding $34.7 million to Chapter 70 school aid above the Governor’s recommendation to ensure that every city, town and school district receives an increase of at least $40 per student above current education aid levels, and to renew the target aid distribution to scores of school districts that was suspended in 2008.
• Fully funding Special Education reimbursements by increasing funding by $29 million, a major step that would benefit every community and school district in the Commonwealth.
• Providing $11.3 million for the transportation of homeless students under the McKinney-Vento Act, adding a new line item to reimburse cities and towns for the cost of this new mandate.
• Increasing funding for regional school transportation reimbursements by $2 million, bringing funding up to $45.5 million.
• In addition to standard local aid accounts, the Legislature’s budget would provide up to $25 million in funding for the Community Preservation Act in fiscal 2014 by creating a mechanism to allocate a portion of any state budget surplus remaining at the end of fiscal 2013.

Site visit at MSH tomorrow cancelled

Patch is running an article saying that the Medfield State Hospital site visit by DEP tomorrow has been cancelled by DEP.

State planning monies

I have been suggesting to DCAM for years that when they want a small town such as Medfield to deal with an issue as large as the development of the Medfield State Hospital site, that they should have provided the Town of Medfield monies with which we could do the planning necessary to respond.  Now, towns are making the similar statements with respect to the casinos, and the Gaming Commission is apparently listening.  See article here.

On being a selectman

I attended the Lyme disease study committee meeting last night, and learned about their trip to Weston to assist that town getting started with a controlled hunt, the posting around town of tick warning signs donated by one of the hunters, and plans for the hunt this fall.  The Lyme disease study committee is really well run, and inspires a lot of confidence in me, just as the Water & Sewer Board and its consultant did last Thursday.

BTW, the biggest part of the $18 m. capital projects over 20 years for the water department was $2.7 m. for a new water tower at the Medfield State Hospital site.  There is a question of whether the rivets can stand to be sand blasted when it needs to be repainted.  Even if that Medfield State Hospital water tower can have its life extended by repairs, where it is at the wrong height in relation to the Mt. Nebo water tower (16′ too low), so it does not make sense to spend much money on it.

Next I caught the end of the Zoning Board of Appeals continued hearing on the Gatehouse 40B application for the West Street site.  From what I caught, last night appeared to be a presentation of the traffic study that the applicant had prepared.  Chief Meaney was presenting when I arrived.  Nice to see three of the town’s consultants (legal, planning, and traffic) in attendance – I got the sense that the town is getting really good advice, as I know that both Mark Bobrowski and Judy Barrett are top notch.  The Zoning Board of Appeals also selected its consulting architect last night.  The town has a financial consultant who will analyze the project, once it is finalized.  All consultants are being paid for by the applicant.  The ZBA set its next continued hearing date for July 23, and will take a site visit at a date to be determined.  The ZBA allowed anyone in attendance to ask questions last night.  The ZBA is handling what is a complicated process on an extremely detailed set of facts involving a controversial project in such a fair manner that it also inspires a lot of confidence in our town government.  Anyone who feels strongly about the project would be well served to attend and witness the fair and impartial process unfold.

I did not cross paths with my selectmen colleagues last night, as is often the case.