I held a mini-town hall meeting last Wednesday evening in the Belknap estates section of town, thanks to the gracious hosting at their home by Mary McCarthy and Howie Richman.
I started by updating people about the Medfield State Hospital and I then attempted to vocalize my thoughts about my plan to make Town of Medfield governing process as formalized as possible, but we quickly turned to the questions, of which there were many. It was a great evening for me, with great people, and wonderful hosts. Medfield is lucky to have such interested, dedicated and involved residents.
This came in a follow up email from Charlie Glew -
Sandy and I found you to be an excellent listener and very candid
within the limits of your role as a public official. The meeting exceeded our expectations in all respects.
The Medfield Coalition for Public Education proved last Friday night that the town administration is a bunch of losers, as the town house team lost the MCPE’s trivia night contest at The Center.
A sold out crowd of 48 teams of four competed in two preliminary rounds to qualify for the championship round, and the town house team was out in the prelims. Town Administrator Mike Sullivan noted that while he and Selectman Mark Fisher felt that they held their own, and that the town house team was really bolstered by the strong presence of town planner, Sarah Raposa, but she was unable to make up for the trivia vacuum that was Selectman Peterson.
Judging from the number of participants and the wonderful food from local establishments, the evening was a success for the MCPE and the participants.
Selectman Peterson Office Hours
Selectman Osler “Pete” Peterson holds regular monthly office hours at The Center on the first Friday of every month from 9:00 to 10:00 AM (his litigation schedule permitting). Residents are welcome to stop by to talk in person about any town matters. Residents can also have coffee and see the Council on Aging in action (a vibrant organization with lots going on). Peterson can be reached via 508-359-9190 or his blog about Medfield matters http://medfield02052.wordpress.com/, where any schedule changes will be posted.
Selectman Osler “Pete” Peterson will hold office hours tomorrow at The Center this month from 9:00 to 10:00 AM because on the first Friday time had to be postponed due to his litigation schedule.
Residents are welcome to stop by to talk in person about any town matters. Residents can also have coffee and see the Council on Aging in action (a vibrant organization with lots going on). Peterson can be reached via 508-359-9190.
I have a work conflict with the first Friday in October selectman office hours, so I will instead hold my selectman office hours at The Center from 9:00 to 10:00 AM on October 11.
No summer hiatus, slow down at the end of August this year -
- Tuesday evening with the Bylaw and Charter Review Committee, as they work through the General Code suggested codification of the town charter, bylaws, and zoning bylaws. Most town departments and boards did submit their rules and regulations, to be added as an appendix. Questions raised as to how the material will be maintained in the future once the Bylaw and Charter Review Committee completes its work and disbands.
- Medfield State Hospital Advisory Committee meeting last night, with lots to report on the Medfield State Hospital wellfield & water tower legislation, the public visioning session, and the building condition survey. Ironically, this member and Bill Massaro of the negotiating committee had to leave when they went into executive session to discuss the negotiations with DCAMM scheduled for this evening. Bill and I had our own discussion in the parking lot of what to do, before heading home for the second night in a row of a dinner after 9PM (being a selectman has accustomed me to eating really late dinners, but I still continue to get overwhelmed when leaving the town house late, tired and hungry, by the smells wafting from Zebra’s kitchen).
- Tonight I meet with DCAMM to discuss their offer to sell the Medfield State Hospital property to the town. See what Westboro is doing under the same state program/initiative about buying the Westboro State Hospital for $2.2 m. in this article. SEE THE ARTICLE
- The town has received the mandatory notice of its right of first refusal to buy 20+ acres of land that were in agricultural tax status. The property owner placed the land into the agricultural status, in exchange for which they pay lower property taxes, but by the statute are then required to give the town the right of first refusal when they go to sell it. The town now has 120 days to buy the land if it opts to do so.
Selectman work this week -
- sent the Board of Health an article from the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s monthly magazine, the Municipal Bulletin, on town’s enacting regulations to control marijuana use based on the existing tobacco regulation , and the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s sample regulations (e.g. – no use at schools and public buildings).
- attended the Medfield Historic District Commission’s inspection of the Medfield State Hospital buildings and subsequest meeting to learn their thinking about possible demolition of the buildings beyond repair
- attended the Medfield State Hospital Advisory Committee’s meeting – lots happening while they are awaiting DCAMM’s “sunk costs” dollar figure, which will be the starting point to discuss the town purchase of the Medfield State Hospital site. The town purchase will assure the town gets future uses it wants.
- long selectman meeting Tuesday evening, as the BoS heard from many groups/committees dealing with issues related to the downtown. Exciting to hear about the Cultural District, the box art that Jean Mineo is doing, and the signs around town that are all better because of the work of Matt McCormack, Jeff Hyman, and the rest of the Sign Committee – I especially liked that changes they made at the signs at Rockland Trust, Starbucks, and the Shaw’s Plaza.
- discovered and sent to Mike Sullivan, fellow selectmen, and Gus Murby the Mass Taxpayers Foundation’s report on the Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPED) problem. Like all other towns, Medfield has a large OPEB liability, ou’s is an estimated $39 m. unfunded obligation to our current and future retired town employees for health insurance. The town is soon to get an update on our every two year actuarial report from our consultant, and the state is also looking at legislation to try to resolve/ameliorate the problem. The town started this budget year to fund our OPEB liability with $300,000, but the OPEB amount is projected to increase at $1.5 m. per year, so we are still getting behind. More study is needed as to how to deal with OPEB, and more will happen when we get the actuarial update and the see what the state does.
Selectman Osler Peterson will hold his monthly (first Friday) office hours this Friday, 8/2, at The Center from 9:00 – 10:00 AM. No appointment is necessary – drop in, first come first served basis. Bonus = experience first hand the Council on Aging programs.
Long discussion yesterday with Mike Sullivan and his intern, Kyle Andrulonis, about Building Committee and town governance issues.
- garage site work being preformed by our own DPW is ahead of schedule
- huge amounts of underground infrastructure being installed, including what Mike described as several Olympic sized swimming pool holes to allow for on-site disposal of the storm water run off
- DPW saving the town lots of money
- salt shed almost completed
The DPW will deal with the North Street paving before the start of school – it is greatly needed as soon as possible given how bad the hole at Green Street has become
I reminded Mike of my suggestion to have Ken Feeney lead a discussion about how our road maintenance efforts extend the life of our roadways and to confirm our use of best practices to extend road life. The Massachusetts Municipal Association has been providing a lot of information about how ongoing maintenance is the cheapest route in the long run. I also reminded Mike that Ken should publish his list of streets planned for repairs so pe0ple know just where their street stands on the list – that will give residents some idea of how long they will be waiting. Giving the residents good data is what the town needs to be doing.
The DPW also needs to get to the Garden Club projects approved by the Board of Selectmen relating to upgrading the plantings at all four town signs and the Hospital Road at Rte 27 island.
The Affordable Housing Committee draft of its Affordable Housing Production Plan was put out last fall, but progress seems to have stalled. In response to my queries, Mike mentioned that the consultant, Judy Barrett, we hired to write the plan, left the company with whom we contracted for that plan (specifically so we could get Judy to do it).
I have no town committee meetings this week, but I am still spending lots of time reviewing the draft legislation and documents about the transfer to the town of the Medfield State Hospital land for the water tower and the wellfields, as the details of the language are worked out to match the agreement with DCAMM that was part of the mediated resolution of the MSH environmental clean up. I am told that we are now hoping that the legislature will take up that issue come September, given their light summer schedule. The town owes thanks to resident volunteers Steve Nolan, Bill Massaro, and John Harney for shepparding that effort along.
Massachusetts Historic Commission 7/18/13 letter to DCAMM agrees to allow demolition of the stable and maintenance builds at the Medfield State Hospital, but refused demolition of the Odyssey Building across the street. The stable is beautiful, but in danger of collapse. The mainenance building needs to be removed so testing for the volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) can continue under the site of the building. DCAMM had kindly agreed to demolish Odyssey house at the town’s request as part of the mediated settlement of the Medfield State Hospital environmental clean up, but now the MHC stands in the way of that happening. There will need to be a long discussion with the MHC over the 1890′s building at the Medfield State Hospital, as it is expected that their condition will turn out to be so poor as to be uneconomic to rehab. The MSH Development Committee is exploring undertaking condition studies to get better data. The Town of Medfield also needs to know how its own Historic District Commission will react if the town asks to demolish those 1890′s buildings – Commission chair, Mike Taylor, at the MSH Development Committee meeting last week intimated that he preferred the buildings to be saved. All mainly agree that is an admirable goal, but the real question is at what cost – if it costs too much to rehab the 1890′s buildings, it could make any redevelopment of the MSH site uneconomic. Most are guessing that the poor, dilapidated conditon of those buildings will mandate their demolition.
Discussions this morning at my selectman office hours -
- discussed with Beth Weaver her son and daughter-in-law’s purchase of the Clark Tavern, and offered whatever assistance either I or the town can provide
- why have there been no deposits for more than two years of the monies from the returnable bottles collected at the Transfer Station? Those funds have in the past gone to the Grist Mill preservation account, and provided the more than $22,000 that funded the installation of the new water wheel.
- reviewed the Medfield State Hospital issues related to the pending legislation for the town to acquire the water tower land and the hospital wellfields, the recent digging by Spectra in the C&D area to determine the depth of their pipeline (relates to the clean up of the C&D area), and general budget and land use issues about the reuse of the Medfield State Hospital.