The week in government: School Committee and more

by beth on November 8, 2021

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Above: These days (unless otherwise noted) all of the Town’s committees and boards are back to meeting over zoom.

Here are the posted committee and board meetings for this week along with my selected highlights from the agendas.

Unless otherwise noted, meetings are all remote sessions open to the public.*

As always, be aware that changes to the meeting schedule are known to happen throughout the week. (Scroll down for details on meetings that popped up after last Monday’s post.) For an updated list of meetings, visit the town website.

Monday, November 8, 2021

  • Southborough School Committee Meeting, 6:30 pm (agenda) Agenda Highlights: Middle school improvement plans; World Language; Updates on Covid-19, Transportation, Neary Statement of Interest, and Extended Day Feasibility Study; FY23 Capital Plan and Budget Priorities; Letter from DESE re FY21 Circuit Breaker Audit (Click here to register for webinar)

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

  • Board of Commissioners of Trust Funds Meeting, 8:00 am @ Town House Hearing Room (agenda) Agenda Highlights: Discuss Trust match with member of Taxation Aid Committee, Request by Southborough Youth and Family Services for continued financial commitment to Community Fund, and Holiday disbursements to Friends of the Youth Commission and Council on Aging
  • Board of Assessors Meeting, 4:15 pm @ McAuliffe Hearing Room – Town House (agenda) Agenda Highlights: Review FY22 classification hearing presentation, Review and act on Principal Assessor’s request to release overlay
  • Trails Committee Meeting, 6:30 pm (agenda) Agenda Highlights: Updates on Aqueduct Connector Trail construction project, Trails Committee charter change status, Peninsula Trail, and joint project with Stewardship Committee; FY23 Budget
  • Youth Commission Meeting, 7:00 pm (agenda and materials) Agenda Highlights: Director’s Report; FY23 Budget; Friends Report
  • Recreation Commission Meeting, 7:00 pm (agenda) Agenda Highlights: Open Space Preservation Commission on Native Pollination Preservation Garden project; Activitas Choate Field Study; Update on programs and projects; Discuss capital planning requests; Vote on purchasing Programming Tent; Vote on pay rates

Wednesday, November 10, 2021 

  • Golf Course Committee Meeting, 9:00 am (agenda) Agenda Highlights:Golf course management contract recommendations and execution of 2019 Long Range Plan
  • Advisory Committee Meeting, 7:30 pm (agenda) Agenda Highlights: Assign rep on ARPA fund ad hoc committee and dept liasons for budgets; FY23 Budget Process and establishing parameters of budget model; Discuss policy on stabilization of operating budget, free cash, and capital expenditures
  • Noise Bylaw Committee Meeting, 8:00 pm (agenda) Agenda Highlights: Elect Officers; Discuss topics to be considered for the development of the bylaw; review existing Noise bylaws in the state and previously proposed citizen’s petition

Looking Back:

Below is a meeting from last week that was posted after I ran last week’s list: 

Thursday, November 4, 2021

  • Community Preservation Committee Meeting, 7:00 pm (agenda, video) Agenda Highlights: Project Updates on Town Clerk Records Restoration, Kallander Field, Mooney and Neary Lighting, Fayville Basketball Court, Historical Society projects, and Open Space projects; FY23 CPA Budget; FY23 CPA application
  • SHOPC/Capital Planning Subcommittee Meeting, 7:00 pm (agenda, video not yet available**) Agenda Highlights: Current zoning for 21 Highland St; Inclusionary zoning (Sudbury); Reports on Process/Funding for Feasibility Study on Developability of Site and option of Community Dev. Org. Development of Site
  • Economic Development Committee Meeting, 7:30 pm (agenda, video) Agenda Highlights: Assign OML complaint to Town Counsel; debrief on Downtown District Article at Special Town Meeting; FY22 Budget; 2021 Goals/New Initiatives; Clean Energy and Sustainability

Friday, November 5, 2021

  • Council on Aging Meeting, 8:30 am (agenda, video not yet available**) Agenda Highlights: Report on current and upcoming programs; FY23 Budget; Tax work off update; Colonial Garden Events; Southborough Community Fund Application; SHINE open enrollment

*The Town intends to make each of its remote public meetings available for viewing/listening via streaming live (and saved) video and audio on YouTube with some available for public comment by zoom. Live streaming of school committee meetings is only available for viewing via webinars.

**Sometime there is a delay before the meetings show up properly listed in the Town’s Remote Meeting YouTube Channel. You can look for videos here.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 NOV 16 BOS TREE HEARINGS November 9, 2021 at 6:47 AM

There are pink tree hearing notices posted on trees along Route 85 near Main Street. Apparently there is a tree hearing for the public at the next BOS meeting on November 16. Please attend with questions in hand. Does anyone know why the area behind the library was clear cut of trees? Southborough got the “Tree City” designation last year. Supposedly, this is the site of a park, playground, and history walk? But wouldn’t trees be part of that scheme? This scheme of clear cutting and pipes makes no sense. What happened to the trees? Were they sold for profit? Some of those majestic live oaks were old growth trees, taking hundreds of years to grow, providing needed shade. If removed and sold as firewood, could be worth tens of thousands of dollars, just one tree. What happened? Where are the trees? Thanks.

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2 Friend of the Trees November 9, 2021 at 10:27 PM

The trees with the pink hearing notices are going to be cut down by DPW. The big healthy trees that were already cut down had no hearing, even though we’re supposedly a Tree City. The DPW has information about this on their website, but it is almost impossible to find it there. The DPW could communicate better with residents.

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3 NOV 16 BOS TREE HEARING November 10, 2021 at 3:01 PM

Beth or Friend of Trees, please can someone post the link to the DPW tree information and the information on the projects located behind the library. Also the project with the pipes on Main Street. Thank you.

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4 beth November 10, 2021 at 4:06 PM

You are the one who posted that there is a Nov 16 tree hearing. I have no knowledge of one.

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5 NOV 16 TREE HEARING November 11, 2021 at 4:52 AM

Beth, you misunderstood. Friend of Trees has cited a DPW link on the DPW website that “is almost impossible to find.” Can either one of you post the link or links? As for the Tree Hearing, that date is apparently and simply the date of the next BOS meeting where it is the BOS who takes up the topic of the pink paper posted trees on Route 85. According to the pink paper Removal Notices, the public may write LETTERS OF OBJECTION to the DPW and or the Tree Warden. Since LETTERS OF OBJECTION were apparently received by DPW, the hearings take place on the BOS level. In the meantime, if you, Friend, or anyone could help with the links, that would be helpful. Thanks Friend of Trees for the heads up about the DPW link.

6 NOV 16 BOS TREE HEARINGS November 11, 2021 at 6:04 AM

Beth, can you post the link to your article “Restoration Work to Begin on Old Burial Site?” In that article are many wonderful references to those buried there, including members of the Fay family, colonial era residents, and the Nipmuc native Americans. The trees that were clear cut and to be cut down are in the area of what was supposed to be a History Walk. This use, along with several others, were apparently dropped. However, the piece is a nice article and reminder of Southborough’s past and why a history walk may be a good use, even if delayed to the future. Thanks

7 Pat D November 9, 2021 at 9:26 AM

What’s with all the pipes resting on the vacant lot at Main and Newton Streets?? More road work? Would love for Parkerville Road North be paved after all the Eversource work was done– the road is a mess!! Only thing good about it now is it keeps car/bus speeds down!

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8 it has to "settle" November 9, 2021 at 12:22 PM

Yet MORE trees taken down by “Oops I Did It Again” Karen Galligan and her gang of chainsaw wielding Paul Bunyans!

As for Parkerville Rd. North – 1. The car/bus speeds have not changed, they just make more noise as they go banging over the rough surface. And, 2. The official word from an Eversource representative is that they are letting the patched trenches “settle” for 1 year before the resurfacing operations begin.

If you think speeding is a problem on Parkerville rd. North now, just wait til it gets resurfaced!

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9 NOV 16 BOS TREE HEARINGS November 9, 2021 at 3:01 PM

Yes, above all, does anyone know why there are giant concrete pipes at the corner of Main Street and Norton Street? Why all these pipes? What are they for? The timing seems to coincide, but is preceding somewhat, the EDC downtown initiative that went before special town meeting on November 1. Does anyone know why that matter made it on the warrant by BOS, but NOT the stripped and tree razed site behind the library? Doesn’t it make sense that whatever the project is on the razed clear cut site would need permission from the town meeting floor, the voters, BEFORE granting use or trading easements, and certainly before any ACTUAL construction? Before shovels go in the ground? That’s how it has always been done. Does anyone know? The TIMING of all of this seems like it is in preparation for new zoning that wasn’t actually yet voted in until November 1. What about the purpose of the razed site, what is it actually to be? Does anyone know? Thanks

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10 Chill out November 10, 2021 at 12:51 PM

Easy with the CAPS conspiracy theorist!

This is a continuation of the Main Street project rebuilding project.

From what I remember the state could not fund the work from Park St. to Newton St. as part of that project because of a technical issue with the road width or something, and if I remember correctly, the Town is using Chapter 90 monies to complete the project, which was delayed as CSX would not grant an easement under the tracks without the Town’s help with other easements.

Here is a novel idea to prevent people from getting all worked up and spreading misinformation and/or rumors all over the internet…pick up the telephone (remember, the thing we used to obtain information before the internet) and call the Town Administrator or DPW office to ask what what is going on….

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11 NOV 16 BOS TREE HEARINGS November 11, 2021 at 5:35 AM

To Chill Out: take your own advice. Chill out on the paranoid “conspiracy” talk. Why would any taxpayer or member of the public presumably know anything about “STATE COULD NOT FUND WORK” or a DELAY in CHAPTER 90 monies OR cited above “CSX would NOT GRANT AN EASEMENT UNDER THE TRACKS?”

Sounds less than public knowledge and more like “inside track” knowledge, pun intended. If you can point to DPW links or other information, that would go a long way. For members of the working public who are raising families and working hard to pay for all these projects, during Covid no less, not everyone is going to have the time to listen to every meeting! How snarky and arrogant to presume that residents would be obliged to call or even have time to call DPW. Who knows if the specific details cited in caps above were even publicly discussed? (By the way, use of CAPS is also nothing to be paranoid about. Weird.).

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12 Chill Out November 12, 2021 at 8:23 AM

All of the information I cited was taken from links to public select board meetings, as well as blogs posted by Beth right here on mysouthborough.com. Thank you Beth!

When I have questions for town staff, I simply take a minute or two to place a telephone call or send a quick email and always receive a reply on my questions.

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13 Friend of the Trees November 10, 2021 at 7:17 PM

Chill out, I’m sure you mean well, but your tone is patronizing.
The DPW, which is responsible for a lot of these plans people are wondering about, works for the taxpayers.
I think enough taxpayers are puzzled about what’s going on, that it indicates that there is a need for more & clearer communication from the DPW about what is going on in the community.
We csn’t all call the town administrator constantly, it’s not his job nor an efficient use of his valuable time, to keep us informed about the DPW’s plans.
The DPW needs to post information in such a way that residents are immediately aware of what is going on.

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14 Michael Weishan November 12, 2021 at 11:44 AM

Fellow Citizens of Southborough

I was the person that made the formal complaint to the BOS to request the tree hearing. This should be of huge concern to anyone who values our history and heritage. Please read the Southborough Historical Society’s post which details many troubling aspects of this project: https://southboroughhistory.org/old-burial-ground-moves-to-the-top-of-southboroughs-most-endangered-list-after-clearcutting-of-adjacent-parcel/ Since posting this piece, I have learned of further hugely disturbing elements of this project: principally that the BOS and St. Mark’s are have undertaken licensing agreements without public input to allow this work to proceed.

As I wrote to Mr. Purple: “I am pleased to hear our new town counsel is comfortable with this process. I, and many others are not.

For one, I work in design/construction and can assure you that easements are not dependent on as-asbuilts as you asserted to me; as-builts are done to make sure construction conformed to the easement, which should have been clearly determined, and voted on by the Town before the first shovel of dirt was moved—especially as we just had a special TM two days ago and this could have easily been included.

Asking us to vote on a fiat accompli that effectively can’t be reversed is a particularly egregious attack on voter rights. There are many people, and not just on the Historical Commission, who would have objected to this project on multiple levels—the lack of the required MHC review; the fact that we are improving private property with public funds; the fact that we received a grant specifically targeted to create a history walk and playground that are now somehow deferred; the fact that we are constructing a purposeless park in an area of extreme historical sensitivity for our Indigenous peoples; and finally that such construction has now permanently affected the welfare of the Old Burial Ground.

Additionally, from a pure taxpayer perspective, what kind of contract is the town using that would allow the clearing contractor to make off with thousands of dollars of 100-year logs? I hire these contractors all the time, and there is a set price for clearing large parcels with a provision that any profits from millable logs are returned to the project, or that the owner receives the milled wood.

Many questions, and so far no suitable answers…”

If you are as concerned as I am, please plan to join me for the BOS meeting on Tuesday and stay through the discussions on both the tree hearing, the licensing agreements, and the park as a whole.

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15 beth November 12, 2021 at 8:31 AM

I don’t have any information on a Nov 16th meeting. You indicate it will be during the Select Board meeting that day. An agenda has yet to be posted. So you have more information at this point than I do about the next steps. That was the point of my comment.

I expect that the Select Board’s agenda will be posted before noon today. You can look for that here: https://www.southboroughtown.com/calendar-by-event-type/16

However, the packet with related materials sometimes doesn’t get posted until the day prior or even day of the meeting. (And materials aren’t always included for each agenda item.)

I can provide the link to the notice that was posted for a November 1st tree hearing, I didn’t realize that was the information you wanted me to share. The document is here: https://www.southboroughtown.com/sites/g/files/vyhlif7351/f/uploads/tree_hearing_notice_and_pics_for_website.pdf

I can also confirm that the Tree Hearing notice page is buried on the DPW page with no way of even signing up to get e-alerts when they post a new notice to it. No notice was shared under Town News Flashes, Events, the public meetings schedule, or other places where the public can more easily keep tabs on Town business.

I am working on a story about this topic. But I’ve been trying to do my due diligence – digging back into past minutes and watching discussions in meetings. I had a lousy cold, making it hard to think and focus, that set me back several days. I’m basically over it now and have done a lot of catchup – but still have more related videos to watch.

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16 beth November 12, 2021 at 11:54 AM
17 NOV 16 BOS TREE HEARINGS November 12, 2021 at 12:11 PM

To All FRIENDS OF TREES, NEIGHBORS, and INTERESTED PARTIES: please attend the TUESDAY BOS meeting at 7:30 pm. Beth, thank you for all you do and posting the link to the BOS November 16 agenda.
Thanks again.

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18 beth November 12, 2021 at 12:31 PM
19 beth November 12, 2021 at 8:37 AM

I can share that 2018 story on the Old Burial Ground restoration: http://www.mysouthborough.com/2018/07/12/restoration-work-about-to-begin-at-the-old-burial-ground/

I should also share my coverage of the Town’s publicity in a late January press release that a project was being planned for the area next to the Library: http://www.mysouthborough.com/2021/02/02/over-1m-in-state-authorizations-grants-for-southborough-history-walk-shared-streets-commuter-rail-parking-and-wastewater-treatment/

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