Fall Town Meeting Presents 5 Votes
By Gregory T. Federspiel
We gather as a community on Tuesday, November 19th, to consider 5 articles or questions that comprise the warrant (the legal public notice for the meeting.) Town Meeting is the core of our self-governance structure. Critical decisions for the current and future affairs of the town that impact the quality of life here in our corner of the world are made by residents coming together, debating the merits of various proposals, and casting informed votes.
Article 1 asks voters to set aside a town-owned parcel located in the western corner of town as conservation land. Containing about 6 acres of mixed forest land and wetlands, the parcel lies to the north of Brookwood School near the Beverly line. It is part of a 500 acre area of undeveloped land which contains some 300 acres of town owned parcels or privately held conservation lands. The area use to serve as the woodlots for village homes and much of it lies within the watershed that feeds into the Town’s main drinking water supply, Gravely Pond. An existing logging road is proposed to remain as access to interior town-owned and other lands.
Article 2 seeks approval for two Community Preservation Committee projects. The first one is the renovation of the Town Common in front of Town Hall, including a new layout with greater green space and new paver walkways, new code compliant ADA access to Town Hall and new lighting. The project’s scope has grown from the original re-landscaping concept thus this request for additional funding of $225,000. The second project is a grant request from the Manchester Historical Museum to provide $3,000 toward interior preservation work to the historic Trask House.
In Article 3, voters are asked to approve $55,000 for design and bidding services for the next phase of water main replacement work – the Boardman Avenue Loop. Given the current strong demand for contractors we need to advance the timing of when we go out bid in order to obtain competitive quotes and have contractors available for the construction season. Thus we are seeking these funds now with the expectation of having a contract to present for construction funding at the April Annual Town Meeting.
Articles 4 and 5 both relate to a proposal for a new composting facility at the existing transfer station site located on the Hamilton town-line north of Route 128 near Exit 16. The first question ask if voters will grant the Selectmen the authority to enter into long term leases with a private company to operate a new compost facility. The second question seeks approval for up to $300,000 as the Town’s share of the cost for the new facility.
Total costs of the enclosed structure, new equipment and related site work is expected to be about $1.0 million. Other funds are to come from a $400,000 state grant and $350,000 from the private vendor, Black Earth Composting. The new facility will allow for a much more controlled, enclosed environment for the rapid creation of compost which will greatly reduce nuisance issues related to odor and pests. The Town’s payback period is anticipated to be less than 4 years as compared to trying to provide curbside compost services without a facility in town.
Please plan to attend Town Meeting this coming Tuesday at the Elementary School. Your participation is essential in maintaining the vitality of our town and ensuring that we “get it right” as we continue to chart the course of our community.