Thanks to Selectman Mike Marcucci for authoring the Board of Selectmen report to the town:
Public Safety Building Ribbon Cutting
BOARD OF SELECTMEN
2016 was a year of transition, with a reminder of where we have been and where we need to go as a Town. On the Board of Selectmen, we started the year with three members who had served a total of 29 years on the Board, with tenures that began as far back as 1980. With Richard DeSorgher stepping down after the 2016 Town Election, and Mark Fisher announcing that he would depart the Board after three terms at the final meeting of the year, the 2017 Board will feature two members serving their first terms for the first time in recent memory. In August, we bid farewell to Ken Feeney and Bobby Kennedy, Sr. who retired from the Department of Public Works after more than a century of combined service to the Town. This is part of a transition in leadership that began with the retirement of Superintendent Robert Maguire in 2013 and which will see transitions in most major Town posts from their long-term occupants by 2020.
As we thanked these gentlemen for their long service to the Town, in 2016 we also began moving forward to plan Medfield’s future.
Townwide Master Plan and Town Website
In April, the Board established the Town-wide Master Plan Steering Committee which is charged with developing the process by which the Town will update its Master Plan. The current Master Plan, adopted in 1964 with a small update in 1997, is due for a refresh. We expect to move forward with the process recommended by the Steering Committee no later than the 2018 Annual Town Meeting. The goal is to complete that process in a timely fashion with appropriate public input so that we can move toward implementing its recommendations.
The 2016 Annual Town Meeting also appropriated funds for an overhaul and upgrade of the Town’s website. Everyone in Town government understands that the website needs a substantial upgrade to meet the needs of our citizens to communicate with and obtain information from their town officials.
Capital Plan and Permanent Planning & Building Committee
The Town also took advantage of a state grant to begin preparations for a 20-year capital plan that will be completed under the direction of our new Director of Facilities and Energy Manager, Jerry McCarty, and which will be completed this summer. This will enable us to project capital costs over the next two decades and set our budget priorities accordingly with an eye toward maintaining a stable tax rate. There likely will be some tradeoffs as we look ahead, but armed with this information we are in a better position to appropriately assess how to spend our taxpayers’ limited resources.
In addition, we opened the new Public Safety Building on time and under budget thanks to the efforts of Chief Kingsbury and Chief Meaney, as well as John Nunnari, Mike Quinlan, Tom Erb, Lou Fellini, and Tim Bonfatti of the Permanent Planning and Building Committee. The completion of the Public Safety Building was the second phase in addressing the building needs identified by the Town in 2008—DPW Garage, Public Safety Building, Parks and Recreation, and Dale Street School.
We submitted an expression of interest for Dale Street to the Massachusetts School Building Authority and Parks and Recreation began a programmatic feasibility study to determine the economics of a new Parks and Recreation facility. As of now, it is not likely that we will be in a position to move forward to renovate or, more likely, replace Dale Street School until 2020 or 2021. That would be an ideal time, as substantial debt comes off of the books between 2021-2023 from the High School, Blake Middle School, and Memorial School projects. It would be better if that debt were mostly paid off before any new debt associated with Dale Street is incurred. The timing is somewhat out of our hands, however, with the Commonwealth picking up 40% of the tab, when they are ready to move, we need to be ready to move.
Medfield State Hospital
The Medfield State Hospital Master Planning Committee, with the assistance of Carrie Hulet from the Consensus Building Institute, made progress toward a 2017 Fall Special Town Meeting to vote on a Master Plan. The MSH Master Plan would include the MSH campus as well as Lot 3 and the Hinkley Property which are also under their purview. The future of MSH is important to Medfield achieving its Town goals, and the property presents a tremendous opportunity for the Town to address many of its present needs. We owe the MSH Master Planning Committee, it’s Resource Committee, and the MSH Building and Grounds Committee thanks for all the time and effort they put in during the year. There is more work to do, but we think we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Affordable Housing and 40B
Town affairs in the latter part of 2016 year were dominated by an issue that was not prominent on the Town agenda when we started 2016 but likely will remain at the forefront of Town discussion in 2017: affordable housing.
With the unveiling of the 200 unit proposed Medfield Meadows development on Dale Street, the Town spent most of the fall protecting itself from that project. More than 800 residents came to the Board of Selectmen meeting at the High School to hear from the developers and standing up for the Town and opposing a proposal that could have had a serious, negative impact on the Town. The Dale Street neighbors group mobilized the town but also marshaled the facts and evidence to persuade MassHousing to reach the right conclusion and deny the application. These citizens, acting as citizens, won victory for the Town. In doing this, they also won also a second chance or the Town to control our own destiny on Affordable Housing.
Specifically, the Medfield Meadows proposal spurred action on our long-gestating Housing Production Plan, which was adopted by the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board on October 17, 2016. Since then, Town administration and both boards have been working to bring Medfield toward compliance with the requirements of the Commonwealth’s 40B law. If Medfield can add 21 units per year to its subsidized housing inventory (“SHI”) until we reach the 10% compliance threshold with 40B, any housing development will have to comply with our zoning by-laws.
There is much work to do, but 2016 saw a substantial step forward for the Town’s efforts to meet its obligations under the 40B law and to maintain control over our affordable housing development destiny.
Awards, Accolades, and Solar Panels
The Medfield High School boys hockey and lacrosse teams won state championships in 2016. Our music program continued to bring honor and sweet sounds to our town with hundreds of participants from Dale Street all the way to the High School.
Through the efforts of Fred Bunger and the Medfield Energy Committee, we became a “Green Community” in 2016 and are now eligible for additional state grants. “Solarize Medfield” under the leadership of Marie Zack Nolan continued on the residential side what we have accomplished at our Town buildings—becoming a leader in solar energy. We opened the new solar array at the Wastewater Treatment Plant and moved toward installing arrays at the DPW garage and the Public Safety Building. These energy initiatives contribute to protecting the environment and to improving the Town’s bottom line
2016 was a year of transition and progress. We will need many hands to fulfill the promise of efforts begun and advanced last year. We appreciate the efforts of the many Town employees and volunteers who put in the time, often extra time, to make our Town a better and more livable place.
Mark L. Fisher
Osler L. Peterson
Michael T. Marcucci