Public Works Planning qualifies Fairview Hill best site for Water Tower but recommends “due diligence” considering Park Central as alternative

by beth on May 24, 2017

Post image for Public Works Planning qualifies Fairview Hill best site for Water Tower but recommends “due diligence” considering Park Central as alternative

Above: A consultant for Public Works recommends siting a water tower at Fairview Hill similar to the type above left. The PW Planning Board qualifies that selectmen should first look at Park Central, where the type of tower above right would be one of the options . (images from Pare report)

Last week, a story I wrote shared that the Public Works Planning Board recommended siting a water tower at Park Central. That was inaccurate.

The Chair of the Public Works Planning Board reached out to me to set the record straight. My original story on the Town’s Public Participation policy include a 2nd hand recap of controversy over a potential water tower at Fairview Hill.

The biggest discrepancy was the board’s vote. The recommendation to selectmen was more complicated than I perceived.

According to Chair Jamie Hellen, members didn’t recommend siting the tower at Park Central. But that doesn’t mean that they urged siting the tower at Fairview Hill. Instead, the board parsed their words in consideration of residents.

20170519 Public Works Planning Board letter to selectmen

(click to enlarge)

PWPB members unanimously supported the consultants’ findings that Fairview Hill is the “most advantageous site”. But they qualified that, recommending selectmen look into on Park Central as an alternative site. The letter was clear that the only reason for requesting that “due diligence” was the overwhelming opposition of Fairview Hill neighbors to the consultant’s preferred location.

You can open the pdf of the full report with preceding letter here. (Or for a quick look at just the letter, click on the image right.)

As for the rest of the controversy – Hellen refutes claims that residents weren’t well notified of their meetings about the water tower. (That was one reason I was given by a reader for residents’ anger at a meeting.) 

The chair asserts that abutters were told in the fall that they wouldn’t be mailed letters about future meetings. Anyone who wanted to keep posted was advised to contact Public Works Superintendent Karen Galligan to be on an email list and to keep checking the Town’s website.

Hellen furthered that some residents were in contact with the Town. The meetings were also posted well in advance. And starting at the March meeting, the board set future meeting dates in front of the public. 

1 beth May 26, 2017 at 7:55 AM

I don’t know what you are referring to about recent articles and not being allowed to post questions.

You did have one comment made prior to this that was held up because I work part time. If there are any others that weren’t posted, you’ll have to follow up with me directly at mysouthborough@gmail.com.

2 beth May 26, 2017 at 8:02 AM

Update – had to remove the other email for violating a blog policy. You can email me at mysouthborough@gmail.com.

3 Townie May 26, 2017 at 11:05 AM

I’m late in the game on this topic. This is a great report that was submitted. The last water tower was built in 1960. 30 years after the other two were built. Think about how much growth this town has seen since then, and the amount of growth that is going on right now. On the south side alone, there is Lorenzo drive going in, a new development off middle road, and the future 55+ at the parkerville/southville area.

Two of the three tanks are located on the north side, one of the being the newest and biggest. It’s time the town adds a tank on the south/west side to help with pressures and storage. This is a no brainer, and I’m all for it.

4 Ann May 29, 2017 at 8:56 AM

I didn’t know Middle Road was getting developed. Do you know how many houses/acres? I’m concerned about all the wildlife that lives in those woods.

5 Townie June 1, 2017 at 10:30 AM

The site is located just South of Rt. 9. No clue as to the amount of houses going in.

6 Alan May 26, 2017 at 11:42 AM

I think we should be concerned more about the cost of the project rather than location. The location was also determined a long time ago when we bought the land.

7 David parry May 31, 2017 at 3:23 PM

Why is the age old project causing so much concern?

The lot was bought specifically for a water tank. Every buyer should have been informed. It is NOT a tall tank on stilts, reacting far into the sky. It is not an ugly eyesore which will reduce property values. There has been no report that links such a tank to reduction of property values. It is a low tank, and the surrounding trees will be taller than the tank. And the tank will be painted green, like the surrounding trees, so it will be almost invisible , even for very close neighbors. So what exactly is the problem?

Compare this low tank behind trees to the the tall floodlights on Woodward playground. I think this should be put in perspective

That area of town needs water supply, and this site has been the intended site for literally many decades, and it is not a blighting influence at all.

Every neighborhood is expected to takes its fair share of public facilities.

Why should the alternative be considered fair or logical?
The alternative site is in the Flagg Rd neighborhood , near the Park Central giant project. To work properly, that alternative tank will have to be a very tall water tower, supported on a very tall base, resulting in a tower which will be visible for literally miles, and will further damage the Flagg Rd neighborhood , adding to the impact of all the new affordable apartments , plus the private condos, and all the additional traffic on a narrow winding scenic road.

I suggest that it is obvious we should NOT dump any more undesirable projects into that VULNERABLE neighborhood. They are carrying way beyond their fair share already.

Please understand that this so called alternative MUST, for technical reasons, be very tall and highly visible. That type of tower DOES REDUCE PROPERT VALUES. But the low tank in the Fairview hill area will not reduce values. In fact , quite the opposite …… It is likely to INCREASE property values in the entire area South of Rte 9, because it will provide reliable water pressure ….. Finally.

8 Fred June 1, 2017 at 8:27 AM

Why not put it on that new piece of property the town just bought across the street from the cemetery. Plenty of room to place a water tank on that parcel and no one would see it.

9 David parry June 1, 2017 at 5:35 PM

Apparently you are not aware of the agreed and binding site plan for the golf course land, under which the northern tip of the course (10 %) which is next to Woodward School, will be used for a new public safety facility, next to a modified golf course, with legally binding conservation restrictions which will protect the golf course as open space for ever … In perpetuity.

Plus the more obvious technical issue that the golf course is definitely NOT suited to a new water tank, because it is in the wrong location, and is not on a high hill which is necessary to provide water pressure in the area below. The location of the water pressure problem is in the south west part of town, along south Parkerville Rd. (not the central area of town).

10 Fred June 2, 2017 at 11:05 AM

Thanks Dave I didn’t realize that.

11 Karen Connell June 2, 2017 at 1:35 PM

There is a water tank at the top of Overlook Drive. It’s been there as long as I’ve been here, a while! Could someone tell me please, how does this new proposed tank compare in size and setting to the much forgotten about, “Overlooked” water tank?
Thank you!!

12 Ravi Mynampaty July 18, 2017 at 3:57 PM

Hello everyone,

There were many concerns raised by residents. One of the residents (not me) also prepared a comprehensive re-analysis which showed the flaws in the report. This comprehensive and detailed re-analysis by the resident is available in the appendices but I’d like to surface a few of those concerns here.

(1) The initial evaluation was conducted using arbitrary ratings for the various tank options (see for example Table 4 on page 14 of the report.) The least desirable option for various criteria was assigned a rating value of 1 and the most desirable a value of 5. The reason this scale is arbitrary is that very different (and also arbitrary) scaling could have been used for evaluation. For example, a ratings scale of 1-1000 or even a scale of 0-5 would compute completely different “best” options for the tank site. Subsequent iterations of the analysis by the consultant used partially corrected (therefore still partially arbitrary) ratings.

(2) Fortunately there is a very simple way of making these ratings non-arbitrary. Rational and reasonable ratings can be calculated using simple math (division). It is a matter of setting the baseline, i.e., the least desirable option based on the data in Table 3 (p.13) should be given a rating of 1 and others scaled from there. Using “Unusable Storage” in Table 3 as an example and assigning to it the least desirable option rating of 1, the rating of the most desirable option can be calculated as 1.95/0.07=27. Using the rational rating of 27 instead of the arbitrary rating of 5 the calculated “best option” comes out to be totally different.

(3) Another glaring example of the ratings being arbitrary is the one criterion which has a yes/no value (see Table 3 on page 13). In this case the ratings used were Yes=5 and No=1. This makes little sense given this is a binary yes/no question. The rational ratings should be Yes=1 and No=0, and this would change the determination of the “best” option.

(4) As for the property values, this is a multi-variate question with a lot of factors potentially affecting home prices. However, the most likely outcome of an above-ground tank, whatever its height, is a reduction in property values. A 30-second Google search found the following opinions of real estate professionals. (This information was shared with the PWPB to be included in meeting minutes.)
Reference: https://www.zillow.com/advice-thread/How-will-a-above-ground-water-storage-tank-built-across-the-street-affect-my-property-value/371577/

“Regrettably, I have to say that most likely the water storage tank is negatively impacting the value of your home. At the very least it will eliminating [sic] some buyers from considering your home for purchase, me included, unless of course I could buy your property for a low enough price. In general, buyers (even if they are not conscious of it) are looking for uniformity in the area. Any unusual or non-uniform land use that does not add value to the surrounding area (such as parks) generally hurts your property values.”

“If it bothers you now, it will probably bother a buyer in the future.”

I am happy to walk through the above calculations for those who would like additional explanation.

With best wishes,
-Ravi Mynampaty
6 Sarsen Stone Way

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