Golf Course: Updated Public Safety plans; Master Plan Committee expanded and members appointed

by beth on December 8, 2016

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Above: One of the most recent drafts of the public safety complex the Town hopes to build at St. Mark’s Golf Course. (image cropped from SAM video)

It’s time for another update on what’s happening with the Town’s plans for St. Mark’s Golf Course.

This week, the Public Safety Committee met with their consultant to go over the most recent plans to site a building on the 60 acre parcel. And selectmen appointed members to a committee to oversee a master plan for the land.

Recently, the Southborough Fire Department posted images on Facebook to update the public on the building project. The post shared three options they reviewed before making a selection in November. You can see them by clicking thumbnails below. The first one shown (“option three”) was their unanimous selection:

Public Safety Complex - option three as presented in November - unanimously supported by PS Committee Option One - not supported by Public Safety Committee Option Two - not supported by Public Safety Committee

Members’ choice was at least partially based on what their consultant described as a more efficient layout of the building. (I’m basing that assumption on comments he made at this week’s meeting.)

On Monday, the consultant from Dunham and Sweeney showed them an alternative version of “Option Three” with a different driveway and parking layout and additional screening. (See the image at the top of this post.)

The next step is likely a presentation by the Public Safety Committee to the Board of Selectmen. They hope for that to be added to selectmen’s December 19th agenda.

The Public Safety Committee also hopes to hold a forum for the public at the Southborough Library this winter. And they’ll be reaching out to residents at the Transfer Station to inform them about the project. It’s part of an effort to get support prior to Town Meeting.

Meanwhile, if you have been following this project, you know that a public safety building isn’t the only potential use of the site. The Town hopes to present to voters other foreseen future uses of the land and how much Open Space will be preserved.

To that end, selectmen formed a St. Mark’s Golf Course Master Plan Committee. On Tuesday night, the board interviewed and appointed applicants for positions on the new committee. 

Representatives were appointed for Council on Aging (Bill Harrington), Open Space Preservation Commission (Lisa Bracchio), and the Recreation Commission (Brian Shifrin).

Three residents from the abutting neighborhood applied for two seats assigned for that role. All three said they weren’t opposed to a public safety building at the site, but want to protect the Open Space and vista there, too.

Selectman selected Larry Vagnini from Latisquama Road. Vagnini has been actively involved in communicating with selectmen and the public safety committee since rumors began swirling about the project. And they selected Stephen Scaringi of MacNeil Drive to help represent the broader neighborhood.

An additional ten residents applied for what were supposed to be the remaining two seats for residents-at-large. Seven candidates were available on Tuesday night to answer questions. All passed selectmen’s initial test by saying they would support Town efforts to buy the land and site a public safety building on the parcel – the original purpose behind the proposed land deal with St. Mark’s School.

Advisory Committee member Sam Stivers impressed selectmen, speaking about the valuable opportunity the deal provides. Stivers sees it as shaping the direction of the Town for decades providing critical real estate for Town resources.

Selectmen were torn about appointing Stivers. They agreed he would be a strong advocate on Advisory and didn’t want to lose his vote if his recusal would be required. In the end, they approved member Bonnie Phaneuf’s suggestion to add an Advisory Committee Representative with Stivers in the role.

From there, selectmen were conflicted about who the next two strongest candidates were, debating among four possibilities. Phaneuf suggested that with the committee now expanded to eight members, appointing a ninth may make sense. The board agreed. The majority of selectmen voted to appoint:

  • Thomas Lescalleet – boasting a background in commercial real estate that includes planning how to best use parcels of land
  • Ginny Martins – a residential realtor who said she would represent all the past clients who bought in Southborough for a reason (and spoke of her love of golfing, snow shoeing, and cross country skiing on the site)
  • Joseph Kacevich – a former Recreation Chair who was instrumental in the creation of 9/11 field

Selectmen made it clear they believed the remaining, unappointed, candidates were also well qualified and appreciated.

The ad hoc committee will hold public meetings and is expected to host a feedback session to hear how the public would like to prioritize use of the land. So stay tuned for more news.

1 Mike Elfland December 9, 2016 at 10:13 AM

Let’s start with a Latisquama Buffer, a healthy swath of preserved land between all residential property and any project. That will leave 30-40 acres. And it will help sidestep much of the cynicism that has shadowed this land deal from the start.

2 J L. December 11, 2016 at 10:29 PM

No matter whatever plan is chosen, does that mean there won’t be a golf course in town any more?

3 beth December 12, 2016 at 8:58 AM

Maintaining a golf course is one of the options to be considered by the committee.

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