Open discussion thread: Ask questions, share opinions

by beth on July 14, 2020

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Above: A reader shared this beautiful view of a sunset from her backyard this summer. You can get a better look by clicking here for a larger, uncropped version. (photo by Jennifer Leuck)

It’s time for another open thread.

What’s on your mind this week, Southborough?

For those of you new to the blog, the open discussion thread is your place to ask questions, sound off on town issues, or share information with other readers. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Ask questions about programs in town or the town itself
  • Post a note about things that you’re selling or giving away, or things that you want
  • Share notices about upcoming events (Southborough or otherwise)
  • Register your thoughts on town issues or news stories
  • Point out interesting or helpful resources

You can add comments to the thread throughout the week. Check back often to see new comments. (If you read the blog via email or RSS, you might want to check the site from time to time for new comments.)

To view past open discussion threads, click here.

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ryanne July 14, 2020 at 6:04 PM

What are all your suggestions for a fantastic ice cream place for a new Southborough resident? Happy Summer all!

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2 southsider July 15, 2020 at 8:40 AM

Uhlmann’s on Route 30 in westboro… no doubt about it

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3 Interested July 15, 2020 at 11:47 AM

I’m a big fan of Uhlman’s but just to add to the list, there’s Trombetta’s in Marlboro and Eastleigh Farms in Framingham.

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4 Jim July 15, 2020 at 12:04 PM

You can’t go wrong with Uhlmann’s which has great ice cream but the lines can be very long.

I go to Trombetta’s Farm, 655 Farm Rd Marlboro. And they have a terrific assortment of hanging plants!

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5 Ann July 15, 2020 at 9:59 AM

Trombetta’s Farm
655 Farm Rd #2763, Marlborough, MA 01752

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6 Anne Jones July 16, 2020 at 12:10 PM

Be sure to try Trombetta’s ginger ice cream. Sounds a bit weird, but the flavor is heavenly!

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7 Ann July 15, 2020 at 10:00 AM

There is also a Dairy Queen in Westboro, Marlboro and Ashland

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8 Ann July 15, 2020 at 10:02 AM

Murphy’s Eats and Treats in Ashland
16 W Union St, Ashland, MA 01721
Try their German Chocolate Cake ice cream. Yummy

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9 Will July 15, 2020 at 8:58 PM

If you’re up for a drive to Hudson, New City Microcreamery has some amazing ice cream and tasty flavors. Quality wise, I’d say it’s a bit higher than some of the others, but doesn’t have the massive assortment of flavors (but if you like those they’re offering, they’re fantastic).

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10 ARHS Mom July 14, 2020 at 7:25 PM

I am wondering about the closure of The English Garden Florist. Was it due to the pandemic? Very sad to see them go.

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11 Ann July 15, 2020 at 10:12 AM

We also lost Playtown Express in town. Another sad loss.

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12 Jim July 15, 2020 at 12:05 PM

Yes. No more proms, wedding flowers, and with businesses closed, no flower orders for lobbies. Sad to see them close after 25 years!

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13 Betsy Rosenbloom July 15, 2020 at 6:23 PM

Yes, sad to see Southborough business closures. But Mugford’s in neighboring Westborough does lovely floral design and is open for business. (I have no personal interest, just like their flowers!)

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14 M July 15, 2020 at 8:35 PM

I am sad they had to close, but I highly recommend Mugfords for the most beautiful flower arrangements. My children who live in other states, will call Mugford’s directly and just let them create what they will to deliver to our house. But they also do the regular things you would find at most florists. It is just before Ulman’s ice cream as you head west on route 30 into Westboro.

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15 Nancy July 16, 2020 at 8:24 AM

English Garden wasn’t the ONLY florist.
Caroline Gulbankian runs Gulbankian’s Florist and Gift Shop.
She is amazing and had been my go to for promos and graduations. Route 85 adjacent to Town Center Plaza.

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16 Petunia July 16, 2020 at 1:05 PM

Can the town stop funding the EDC?

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17 Interested July 16, 2020 at 7:22 PM

Right! I mean, what do they actually do that requires spending money? I heard they want to build a booth at the cost of 10k. I guess we could nickname it the Little Taj, lol.

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18 Mad Shopper July 14, 2020 at 9:14 PM

Any update on the Swap Shop re-opening?

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19 Jay July 15, 2020 at 5:16 AM

Never seen any road work as bad as the 85 Main st intersection. Awful. Could they at least grade it a little bit,

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20 Nancy July 16, 2020 at 8:18 AM

Caroline Gulbankian has a floral and gift shop in Southboro.
Gulbakian’s is on Route 85 @ Mt Vickery Road.

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21 Eileen July 16, 2020 at 10:32 AM

Yes. The flowers, gifts and clothes at Caroline Gulbankinan’s floral and gift shop are wonderful.

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22 Eileen July 16, 2020 at 12:36 PM

I apologize for misspelling her name, which is Carolyn Gulbankian.

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23 Susan July 16, 2020 at 1:55 PM

I want to extend my appreciation to the Southborough Library staff for offering in-stock library materials for curbside pick-up. The procedure to request materials is smooth and simple, and the staff is very timely with their calls to let you know when the materials are ready for pick-up. A wonderful extension to the already excellent services that the library staff offers. Thanks so much!

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24 Kelly Roney July 27, 2020 at 10:41 PM
25 Interested July 17, 2020 at 11:08 AM

I have said in the past that I have enjoyed watching the transformation at 84 Main St. but now I’m wondering if the construct will ever end. It’s starting to look a little Disneyland-esque.

While driving east on Main St the other day, I noticed a new structure on the property very close to the 1st house on Parkerville Rd, so I turned down Parkerville Rd. to see what it could be. It looks like a little cottage. As I was turning around to go back to Main St, what I then saw was horrifying. There was a crew with machines on the the banking of the Sudbury River eradicating the natural growth and replacing it, with what looked like from a distance, crushed stone. How can this be possible or permissible?

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26 John Kendall July 18, 2020 at 3:08 PM

They are replacing what was there when the aqueduct and reservoirs were built. Go look at some old pictures of the area at the time. Both banks were both covered in rip rap, not crushed stone.

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27 Interested July 20, 2020 at 9:35 AM

The nature growth is definitely replace with stone, no matter what kind of stone it is. I am by no means an environmental expert, but I am quite sure that modern day environmental regulations are more progressive than they were when the waterway was 1st built.
I had a look from the Deerfoot Rd. side and it looks horrible. I’m not sure why you are referring to old pictures. If it’s for a historic point of view, why reference them for the waterway and but not the buildings? I mean, c’mon, how much of renos are truly historical? But that becomes a side issue in comparison to environmental issues.

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28 beth July 20, 2020 at 10:41 AM

I haven’t seen what you are referring to. But it sounds like it is consistent with the plan to remove invasive species of plants that was approved by the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Conservation Commission.
You can find the proposal presented at the March 5th Conservation Commission meeting here.
The minutes from that meeting (here) indicate that the owner needed to get approval from DCR.

The March 25th minutes (here) indicate that the approval was received with an amendment that reflects the document to be ongoing and remain after the Certificate of Compliance. It doesn’t specify whether the approved Plan was Alternative A or B, but given that conditions tacked on referred to excavation, it seems to be A.

The approval included the following conditions:

1. A plan or site sketch shall be submitted and approved by the Commission that identifies the limits of ongoing vegetation management.
2. If during excavation, the supervising wetland scientists finds root masses are being encountered then as much root matter as possible should be removed.
3. The specification for the wildflower seed mix shall be submitted for approval prior to application. The approved mix shall include native species only and be from a local source.
4. The name and qualifications of the herbicide applicator shall be submitted to the Conservation Commission prior to the start of work.
5. Other options besides an approved glyphosate-based herbicide may be used if another option arises. Any changes shall be approved by the Commission prior to use.
6. By the end of each calendar year, a report shall be submitted to the Commission on the efficacy of the current program and to make any necessary changes to the approved plan. This condition shall be in perpetuity and carry on with subsequent owners until such time that the Commission votes it is no longer needed.

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29 I am too July 20, 2020 at 10:42 AM

I too am interested in what this little building – which was NOT present before the work began – could be. How was it even allowed? Isn’t this boondoggle supposed to be a renovation of the existing structure(s) and possibly grounds? It’s been going on for years now – with no end in sight.

My friends on Parkerville really enjoy the flow of dump trucks and other equipment going up & down their street – at all hours. How do the rigs with trailers make their turns at route 9? Guess that would explain the repeated damage to the STOP sign, street sign and fencing at that intersection. If those trucks would use the route 85 interchange, they would be able to access route 9 in a less destructive manner.

Who is paying for the repairs and replacement of the signage and fencing noted above?

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30 Allan Bezanson July 21, 2020 at 11:12 AM

About the cottage…. What you see is a replica of Burnett’s ‘summer house’ under construction. Here is how it appeared right after Stony Brook was dammed to form the Sudbury Reservoir. The replica is closer to Parkerville,
https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/search/commonwealth:t148g4735

Right now the new riprap covering is very prominent because the stone is freshly cut and the reservoir level is extremely low. The natural growth rooted in the riprap and on the bordering lawn featured invasive Japanese knotweed, invasive oriental bittersweet, poison ivy .and other invasives. Left alone it would march rapidly right up to the mansion. If you follow the Sudbury Reservoir Trail across the water you can get an up-close look at natural growth. The owner is investing a great deal of his own money here and it his choice to create formal gardens, landscaping and other embellishments. The restoration of Joseph Burnett’s mansion, chapel and carriage house has been of the highest quality.

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31 What a Mess July 21, 2020 at 3:43 PM

Sorry, but don’t agree with much of this. First, the water table is not significantly lower than it normally is. Also, where is the documentation posted on the invasive species? And since when is obliterating the watershed (which acts as a natural barrier for pesticides and runoff) an acceptable means of remediation? Can everyone on this aqueduct now do the same?

This is a private developer putting stone on public land with a public drinking water supply. Public water supply. Public land. Land the developer does not own. What laws apply to protecting drinking water? And public access? And again, can everyone now do the same? Pour tons of rocks on public land? To improve the view and get rid of “invasive species?” What about public access?

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32 beth July 21, 2020 at 3:53 PM

The plan was approved by DCR and the Conservation Commission. I posted the information on the invasive species removal plan and the conditions approved earlier in this thread.

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33 Nancy Kolk July 21, 2020 at 4:20 PM

Thank you for this information and photo, Allan.

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34 southsider July 17, 2020 at 4:05 PM

Wouldn’t the Wetlands Protection Act require some official permissions for changes of that nature on the banks of a river?

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35 What a Mess July 21, 2020 at 6:58 AM

Cannot believe that this developer (self proclaimed to be worth over $100m) got $1m of our taxpayer dollars for this ongoing mess. Thanks to the deal geniuses who felt compelled to give our money away. In addition to the trucks, the noise, the unsightliness, one has to wonder how this went from an understated dignified presidential mansion to a hot mess. So embarrassing. Have had two unrelated out of town guests remark: who builds something like that? (Answer: the Burger King). And “more money than taste.” The stone on the waterline is atrocious in appearance. Are there violations of Rivers and Streams Act? Does anyone know whether or not this is the case?

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36 Djd66 July 21, 2020 at 11:09 PM

@what a mess,… perhaps 4 McMansions or a complex of 40b housing would look better? I think I know a developer in town that would be happy to bring out the wrecking ball for the opportunity to build a big complex their.

The owner has put millions into the place,… I think when it’s done it will look amazing.

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37 What a Mess July 22, 2020 at 9:54 AM

Gullible nonsense. You don’t actually buy that nonsense about alternative development plans? There are restrictions on developing that site. Look them up. Talk to experts. As for the millions, the genius deal makers did not need to fork over a million dollars of taxpayer dollars to a private developer who claims to be worth $100m. It has been an unsightly noisy mess for some time. Now tons of stone on public water supply? On public land? Does everyone get to do same?

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38 beth July 22, 2020 at 10:20 AM

I don’t know what restrictions you are referring to that existed prior to the Town paying for restrictions. You may be correct about some restrictions on the property that would have ruled out a large development. But there were plans to tear down the buildings and replace them with three cottages. I’ve never heard anyone claim that that plan wouldn’t have passed muster.

You refer to “genius dealmakers” forking over taxpayer money. It’s worth remembering that in a crowded auditorium of voters, only a handful voted in opposition. An extreme majority voted to support the deal to preserve the historic estate.

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39 What a Mess July 22, 2020 at 1:43 PM

The unwitting taxpayers did not know, because it was never disclosed or discussed at that point, that the deal geniuses were making a deal to give $1m of their money to a private developer claiming to be worth $100m. The vote was taken prior to these disclosures. There likely would have been a lot more discussion and maybe a different deal or outcome if this had been known up front. Now that’s worth remembering too.

40 Kelly Roney July 22, 2020 at 5:55 PM

Why is the developer’s net worth relevant? What was the value of the historic preservation restriction? Delli Priscoli’s bank account didn’t bear on that.

The idea that details of the deal were not disclosed is complete nonsense. I was at the Town Meeting that voted for it, but that wasn’t the first time I ever paid attention to it.

41 northsider July 29, 2020 at 1:58 PM

Not sure how your, or your friends’, personal taste matters in this situation? If your neighbor across the street painted their house pink, you probably wouldn’t like it but it’s within their rights to do so (outside of an HOA or similar).

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42 Curious July 21, 2020 at 7:21 PM

Could we do that stone on the water line of the reservoirs for the rest of Southborough where the DRC has abandoned care?

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43 Happy resident July 22, 2020 at 10:55 AM

That would be awesome but unfortunately people like “what a mess” prefer the abandoned messy look. Anyone see the irony?

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44 What a Mess July 22, 2020 at 1:36 PM

To happy resident with the hot mess: natural watersheds (what you refer to as “abandoned messy look” is actually a natural barrier and safeguard to the drinking water supply against runoff, pollutants/carcinogenics, and pesticides. If there was stone there back in the day, this was obviously before regulatory safeguards to keep drinking water clean. Ignorance is bliss, apparently. Again, the overriding point is private developer altering public land on public drinking water supply. And what about public access?

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45 John July 22, 2020 at 3:11 PM

Gee, whiz, look at the “as built” photos around the reservoir which clearly show “rip rap” rock lining the waterways!!!:

https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/search/commonwealth:5h73zm503

https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/search/commonwealth:t148g459b

https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/search/commonwealth:t148g497r

https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/search/commonwealth:fb494c916

https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/search/commonwealth:5h73zm44z

Rip rap is used to prevent loam, dirt, sediment, and other debris from washing into the waterways during heavy rain and runoff – you see it used all of the time to keep sediment out of the water (perhaps you have seen brown water caused from sediment from runoff after a heavy rain).

While this may not be visually pleasurable to “What a Mess” and others, for over 80 years, up until the 1970, when the Sudbury reservoir was downgraded to emergency use only and MDC funds were cut, the state did an amazing job of clearing brush, trees, and invasive species from around the entire reservoir! Personally, I believe it gave the reservoirs a cleaner, more pleasurable look.

Oh, and I saw plans for the three cottages that were submitted after the wrecking ball was to have its way with the Burnett Mansion, and YES, they were allowed by Southborough zoning regulations!

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46 Happy resident July 22, 2020 at 4:14 PM

Thank you for sharing those posts. Very educational. The photos reveal the hard work that was put in to making the Sudbury reservoir before it was taken over by invasive plants that apparently some people find attractive. This is a surprise to me that someone wouldn’t want these invasive species cleared from the waterway. I personally think the rip rap in those old photos looks amazing. Look how nicely manicured the Burnett land is. It’s awesome that it is going to be that way again.

47 John July 22, 2020 at 8:24 PM
48 Happy resident July 21, 2020 at 8:26 PM

Unlike some people, I have a more positive disposition and am amazed at the beauty of the Burnett house. They appear to be doing a fabulous job. It was a delight to see all of the roses in bloom back in May and June. What was once a dilapidated house is being transformed in to a thing of beauty for the residents of Southborough to see and enjoy for years to come. I love driving by. Great job and keep up the good work! How could anyone NOT like this?

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49 JMO July 27, 2020 at 12:55 PM

I can’t get past the one million dollars we handed to the owner. Personally, I don’t get one million dollars worth of enjoyment out of it. I don’t understand how the town could vote for such a waste of scarce tax dollars. There are countless other things that could have been done in which everyone could enjoy. In the end this is private property. Look, don’t touch.

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50 Kelly Roney July 27, 2020 at 10:55 PM

As one of 10,000 Southborough residents, you’re in the black if you get $100 of value. Sure, it’s obvious you don’t value this historic building, so even that is unlikely, but the majority of us who wanted this and were willing to fund it out of CPA funds enjoy keeping the good stuff like the Burnett House and letting more homogenized houses spring up elsewhere.

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51 southsider July 22, 2020 at 11:16 AM

I love some of those 1898 pictures! thanks for posting them.
I too am happy to see the old mansion restored and was one of those who voted in favor of the expenditure of town funds to retain such a landmark property.
Places like this mansion and Pilgrim Church and St Marks and all of our various conservation acreage help to make our town such a unique and beautiful place to live and work.

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52 JMO July 27, 2020 at 12:57 PM

And, push up our property tax bills. So much money for so little service.

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53 beth July 22, 2020 at 2:24 PM

What wasn’t disclosed?

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