“Wayland Weekly Buzz” is a weekly news and issues program from the studios of Wayland’s public access TV station, waycam.tv. The following are recaps of recent town committee meetings, compiled by volunteer citizen-reporters, as reported on “Wayland Weekly Buzz” for the week of March 2.
Top stories from town government
1. Lively public comment section at selectmen’s meeting
2. Gossels Award proposed
3. River’s Edge moving forward
4. School bus parking unresolved
5. Finance Committee meeting often
6. Historical Commission cleanup at Wayland Depot
7. Historical Commission to celebrate 100th anniversary of 19th Amendment
8. Deadline for nominations for Lydia Maria Child Award
9. Free flu shots still available
Board of Selectmen
The public comment section at the Board of Selectmen meeting on Feb. 24, with five residents weighing in, was particularly lively.
First, David Bernstein, speaking for himself, asserted the Town Manager Special Act was not ready for prime time and advised that it be held until a future town meeting when it is “properly prepared.” Bernstein cited three reasons:
1) The Collins Center, one of the drivers of this article, recommended a review of the town structure. The last such study, Bernstein said, was conducted in 2002. If one has since been done, he said, the results are not available for public consumption and that is a deficit in terms of the article.
2) The presentation says we have to make changes to the organizational structure of the town government, but there is no organizational chart to show what that would be and there is no way to determine whether more management leadership would be required. As a result, there is no way to assess costs, Bernstein said.
3) The presentation says new bylaws have to be created and existing ones changed, but nowhere can he find what the changes would be.
Second, Asa Foster, co-chair of the Recreation Commission, assured the selectmen that if the Loker field article passes at Town Meeting and the project is undertaken, his commission would confine its activities for the next five years to rehabilitation and maintenance of existing fields, rather than proposing new ones.
Next, Jon Sax expressed his dissatisfaction that the Recreation Commission plans to use town resources to attempt to decertify the vernal pool at the Loker Conservation and Recreation Area. He went on to criticize the commission’s upcoming public forum on the project for 1) using most of the time for their own presentations in favor of the project; 2) prescreening questions from the public; and 3) severely limiting the time anyone other than themselves can talk. “This is not how I think of a public forum in a democracy,” he protested.
Next, Mike Lowery reiterated his proposal that the town use land it already owns, namely the former Department of Public Works site at 195 Main St., for the proposed Community Center/Council on Aging, rather than spending “one more dime than we need to buy land we thought we were going to get in the first place.”
Finally, the Public Ceremonies Committee proposed – and got unanimous approval from the selectmen – the establishment of the Peter R. Gossels Good Government Award with a plaque to be hung outside the Treasurer’s Office. The award honoring Gossels’ extraordinary years of service to the town would be bestowed annually on someone who has given 20 years or more of unpaid service to the town and who exemplified Gossels’ passion for justice, civility and high standards of conduct. Peter Gossels died last fall.
In the Town Administrator’s report, Louise Miller said she had established a committee to consider the proposal received in response to the town’s Request for Proposals for the proposed Council on Aging/Community Center. The purpose of the committee, she said, is to determine the best option for the town. She hopes to be able to come back to the selectmen in March with at least a recommended location and be able, at that time or shortly thereafter, to negotiate the specifics of the contract.
As for River’s Edge, Miller said she has signed the town’s intent to use the access road at the Transfer Station, which was a Department of Transportation (DOT) requirement, and she does not see any further delays. “At this point, assuming we can work out all the terms of the agreement, we can close,” she said.
With regard to school bus parking, the DOT is closing on property in Sudbury during the first week in April. Miller said she has asked the town planner to contact Herb Chambers, the owner of the property, and notify him that Wayland would like to use the property for at least another year. Meanwhile, the DOT has two more properties the town could potentially use, one in Natick and one in Concord. “They’re letting us know that there are options and that they will help us if needed,” Miller said.
The Finance Committee has been meeting twice a week in preparation for Town Meeting. Highlights of recent discussions include:
Wayland’s Moody’s triple A credit rating has been updated and is now stable.
The FinCom budget guideline was an increase of $2.7 million. At $86.3 million, the resulting budget was $1 million over that. The top three drivers are payroll (up 4.8%), health insurance (up 8.8%) and retirement (up 6.6%).
The budgeted tax increase is approximately 4.77% over last year, or $18.15 per $1,000 in property assessment.
The town’s unused levy will decrease by $1 million to $5 million.
Excluded debt costs will increase by approximately $900,000 to $4.4 million.
More significant capital projects include the Loker roof ($4.3 million) and the High School athletic field ($200,000 for design, but ultimately a $2.2 million project).
Top future year capital initiatives are expected to be $11 million in fiscal 2022, $10 million in FY23, $9 million in FY24, and $5 million in FY25. With the passage of time and the emergence of future capital needs, these figures – along with the town’s debt service and property taxes – tend to increase.
Top future areas of concern are personnel-related costs including salaries, health care, pensions and Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB).
The Historical Commission is collaborating with the Department of Public Works on maintenance of the grounds and railroad artifacts around the Wayland Depot. Volunteers have performed brush removal and weeding in years past, clearing growth from areas near or around the rails, the side track, and the turntable pit. This enables visitors to the Depot or users of the Rail Trail to appreciate the surviving railroad artifacts.
The DPW will now take over the brush clearing, so that volunteers can focus more time on preserving the artifacts and weeding their immediate environment. The next volunteer weekend at the Depot will take place on May 2 and 3.
The Historical Commission continues to work with local authorities on the repair of the historic Stone’s Bridge. A permit from the Army Corps of Engineers is needed before a bid can go out, and that process is underway. The Historical Commission is also working with the Wayland Housing Authority to appropriately replace an historic crescent window at Cochituate Village Apartments.
Finally, the commission is joining the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. Watch for an exhibit in the Town Building in April. Co-sponsored by the Historical Commission and the Wayland Historical Society, it will feature some of Wayland’s notable women through the ages.
Public Ceremonies Committee
The Public Ceremonies Committee is accepting nominations for the 2020 Lydia Maria Child Award. Child is known as a national heroine for her tireless work as an abolitionist, activist for women’s rights, human rights and equality. She is also known for her poem “Over the River and Through the Woods.” Child resided in Wayland in the mid-19th century.
The Lydia Maria Child Award is given annually to a Wayland resident, local group, local volunteer organization, or town employee in recognition of active volunteer leadership for the betterment of our community’s quality of life or in serving the important needs of the townspeople. The deadline for consideration is Friday, March 6. Submissions are limited to 500 words and must include your reasons for making the nomination, as well as your contact information.
Please submit your nomination by mail to Richard P. Turner, chair, Wayland Public Ceremonies Committee, 7 Nob Hill Road, Wayland MA 01778, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Prior nominations are carried forward and do not need to be resubmitted. The winner will be announced at annual Town Meeting.
Board of Health
The Health Department still has a supply of injectable flu vaccine for all interested individuals. There is no out-of-pocket expense, but insurance cards are necessary to provide for reimbursement so future vaccine may be purchased.
Injectable seasonal quad flu vaccine and high dose vaccine for ages 65 and older are also available.
Limited doses of Pneumococcal, Prevnar and Tdap vaccine may also be available for individuals who meet the criteria of the state Department of Public Health. For more information or an appointment call the flu hotline at 508-358-6805.
Watch “Wayland Weekly Buzz” on WayCAM.tv on Sundays and Tuesdays at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Comcast channel 8 and Verizon channel 37, or online anytime at waycam.tv/buzz. Find a full program archive and schedule on our website. The current episode is on the warrant article to have the Finance Committee appointed by the moderator, not the Board of Selectmen. That’s the structure in most Massachusetts towns. Petitioners feel our budgeting structure is incorrect. The Board of Selectmen, the executive branch, should be creating the budget, and the Finance Committee should be reviewing that budget for the legislative branch, the citizens of town meeting. We are joined by lead petitioner Carole Plumb and former Selectman George Harris. Starting March 8, the show will feature a “pro” and “con” look at the Loker turf field warrant article coming up at annual Town Meeting for the third time. We will talk to Recreation Commission members Asa Foster and Brud Wright, proponents of the article, to find out if there are any changes. Resident John Sax will present the opposition view.