Open discussion thread: Ask questions, share opinions

Above: Chestnut Hill Farm at sunset

Time for another open thread. 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:

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Dean Dairy
12 years ago

Has anyone else in town, particularly on the south side of Parkerville, been experiencing erratic electrical service at times during the last few months?

Not so much complete power failures, but surges and dimmings. (I don’t think it’s a problem with my household load or individual service.)

I’ve noticed frequent power outages generally in the area for a long time, but these newer erratic episodes have been more frequent and seem to “cure” for a while once there is a complete power failure, only to resume after a period of days.

Does anyone know who in town (government or elsewhere) would know about these issues?

John Kendall
12 years ago

There are surges almost every morning in my neighborhood but we haven’t had an outage in quite awhile.

Deb Moore
12 years ago

There was a loud bang this morning, about 8:40, that I heard in my house near Trottier right before the power went out for just over an hour. Does anybody know what went kaboom?

Dean Dairy
12 years ago
Reply to  Deb Moore

Sounds like a transformer explosion.

Jerry C
12 years ago

Southborough needs bike trails. My son and recently rode our mountain bikes on the town conservation property accessible from RedGate Rd. We had a fantastic ride. It was a lot of fun, and we noticed a lot of people using the property on bikes, jogging, or fishing.

We went to the Chestnut Hill property and noticed that bikes weren’t allowed. Does anyone know what the logic here is? We were there on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and there wasn’t one person using the property (the parking lot was empty). This was the same day the RedGate property was full. They also don’t allow dogs on leashes. I thnk bikes should be allowed, and dogs on leashes shoujd also be allowed as long as people pick up after them.

Does anyone have ideas on how we can set up safe bike trails for our children? Any ideas on what we need to do this? Do people think we should have more access (bikes and dogs on leashes) on the Chestnut Hill property?

Al Hamilton
12 years ago
Reply to  Jerry C

Jerry

The town does not own the Chestnut Hill property. The town purchased a conservation easement which prevents the owners from developing the property but they retain the title to the property and can use is for all purposes consistent with conservation easement. For example they can farm or log the property or set up a swine operation or perhaps open a dirt bike course.

All the public uses of the property are by the grace of the owners.

If you are looking for a nice bike trail, there is a 2 mile “fire road” that stars at the corner of Nichols and Clemmons and goes to parmenter on MWRA land. There are also bike trails in the Callahan Forest.

Sally Watters
12 years ago
Reply to  Jerry C

We are delighted that the property mentioned is providing such enjoyment to the people of Southborough, but I did want to address several points. The property referred to as the town conservation land accessible from Red Gate is not owned by the town of Southborough. Elaine Beals and the Southborough Open Land Foundation (SOLF) , a private land trust, jointly own the property. Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT) holds the conservation restriction on the land. A year ago, the property was dedicated as the Elaine and Philip Beals Preserve, a name that was chosen by SOLF to honor the benefactors who donated this land. The three parties (SOLF, Mrs. Beals, and SVT) are presently determining the appropriate usage of the property in keeping with our stewardship responsibilities, and will be posting permitted uses shortly. We are pleased that the public is enjoying this wonderful piece of property and invite you to join us tomorrow as we observe the one year anniversary of the opening of the property and do some clean up work along the lane. Sally Watters, President of SOLF

mfuce
12 years ago

jerry c feel free to propose and open up your wallet.

lily
12 years ago

Im wondering if the sidewalks on Southville Road, particularly those headed east from Parkerville Road will ever be addressed? The cement is cracked and the weeds and trees are over grown – it is almost impossible to push a stroller or even walk over them.

Joan
12 years ago

I heartily agree Lily. As a resident of that section of Southville for many years, and a mother of 3 small children, I am disgusted by the state of the sidewalk there. It is completely impassable with a stroller in sections. My children can’t ride their bikes on it – it is way too bumpy, cracked and overgrown. We are often forced to walk in the street for a bit which is exceedingly dangerous because of the high traffic volume. I called the DPW about this several years ago and was told that it was ‘on the list’ to do. I’ve seen no action thus far and am jealous of the sidewalk work being done on the other side of Rt 85!

Sheryn
12 years ago
Reply to  Joan

Joan – I’ll sign! Thanks for the help, John.

lily
12 years ago

I cant agree more. Its really shameful that parts of the town are so neglected.

John Butler
12 years ago
Reply to  lily

Lily and Joan,

Since you have already called the DPW, it is time to begin to use the other methods that are open to you in our miniature democracy. This system we have is designed to be responsive.

If you can get eight more of your neighbors, or members of your household, totaling 10 voters in all, to sign a warrant for Town Meeting, you can put your case for sidewalk repair before Town Meeting to see if the voters agree with you. You are already 20% of the way there, with just the two of you. My guess would be that, one way or another, this effort will get it done.

Here is what you should do. Call the Town Clerk’s office and ask them to mail you a signature sheet for a Town Meeting warrant. Fill out the warrant text to say:
“To see if the Town will raise and appropriate, borrow and appropriate, or transfer from available funds and appropriate, a sum of money to repair the sidewalk on Southville Road, or do or act anything in relation thereto.” Then collect your 10 signatures, maybe with a few extra, being careful to get the names clearly written and meeting the Town Clerk’s signature rules. Take your signed petition to the Town Clerk’s office, keeping a copy. Do this before the end of November, to be on the safe side of the schedule. That will bring it before Town Meeting.

After you have filed your warrant with signatures at the Town Clerk, call Karen Gallagher at the DPW and speak to her again. Tell her what you have done, and ask her for her estimate of the cost of the repair, by January 15, so that everyone has it in time to consider the cost before Town Meeting. It is possible that she may tell you that she will get it done without this warrant. You can decide if you want to proceed to try to force the issue, or accept whatever she offers. If you get to Town Meeting you will need an actual amount to read at Town Meeting in place of the words “a sum of money”.

There are several possible outcomes for this little effort. Karen may decide that if the neighbors are willing to bring this before the voters, she should bump it up on the priority list, or she could join with you to ask for the extra funds to cover this, lastly, less likely, but possible, is that Town Meeting could decide that it doesn’t want to fund this right now. At least if the last happens, which I doubt, you have had a full hearing. If Town Meeting votes the funds, it will get done.

Lastly, I’d urge you and others here to use your full real names. Names make each person more of a force to be reckoned with, which is how our system works best.

John

Joan
12 years ago
Reply to  John Butler

Thanks for the information John! I’m going to see if I can make this happen.
Joan Provencal

Steve
12 years ago

I sent my first grader off to school a couple of weeks back with new sneakers, book bag a big smile and 2 boxes of tissues, hand sanitizer, pencils, markers, crayons etc etc that each student was “asked” to supply to the classroom… Tonight is Open House and we’re being asked to “contribute” more supplies or gift cards to the class…. the school is great and the teachers are fantastic, but when does it end with the extra$….

Cops vs Flaggers
12 years ago

I’ve noticed that during construction of sidewalks on the east end of Southville Road, there are civilian flaggers rather than cops handling traffic. I know that this section of road is owned by the state, so that explains the change in traffic details. I’ve also noticed something else: the flaggers are in the road directing traffic! They have signs that assist them, but they are out doing their jobs instead of sitting in cruisers reading or napping, shooting the breeze with construction workers, or staring down into holes. They are actually working! What a change of pace that is. Money well spent (or saved)

Al Hamilton
12 years ago

On Tuesday the Historical Commission presented its design concepts for a new police station. Taken together with the competing work of the Municipal Facilities Committee we have now spent something in the neighborhood of $300,000 on planning for Police/Public Saftey facilities. Sadly, all this time and money has been spent on planning for a facility we simply cannot afford.

The price tag is $6 to $8 million dollars and probably 10% to 25% more if history is a guide. The associated debt is on the order of $500,000 to $750,000 per year. Southborough’s debt service (% of your tax bill that is devoted to servicing debt) is already among the highest in the Commonwealth and will remain high until at least the middle of this decade.

Our school system is already building rich and teacher poor. Budget constraints, coupled with declining enrollments caused us to reduce staff in our K-8 system this year. We should avoid exacerbating this situation.

The reality is that we will struggle over the next decade to pay for the service providers such Teachers, EMT’s, Police Officers, Librarians, Senior Center Workers and DPW workers and their associated benefits including pensions which are significantly underfunded. To the extent that we will ask the taxpayers to dig deeper into their pockets, it is support for service providers that must take priority not new buildings.

Like many families in town and businesses, town government managers are going to have to figure out how to make do with the facilities they have for a long time to come.

John Kendall
12 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

Imagine having to lay off cops and firefighters because of the cost of a new public safety facility…….as much as the police could really use a new building, and the fire station is outdated and too small for it’s intended purpose, I think “wait” will be the watchword for some time. I’m with you Al.

Pat Quill
12 years ago

Al, didn’t we just decide on this very issue at last Town Meeting? Or, at least something to do with the Historical Society’s request for funds having to do with a new police station?

In a perfect world, I think most of us would love to have a shiny new
police station here in Southborough……….but, today’s economy just prohibits this at this point in time.
(I’d rather give them a pay increase or hire more officers.)

I remember someone suggesting the empty building on Rt. 85 accross from the
transfer station. Great central location, large enough building and I would assume
real estate can be gotten for a song these days.

Why on earth are their still requests for spending ?

Al Hamilton
12 years ago
Reply to  Pat Quill

We allocated money to study the feasibility of doing an Add/Ren to the police station while. That effort resulted in the report to the BOS last Tuesday.

If at some point in the future we were to consider a new facility buying a pre existing building if it is structurally close to what we need is a very desirable way to go. Public sector contracting processes are heavily stacked against tax payers and to the extent that we can take advantage of a building that was built on commercial terms rather than state terms we can come out ahead particularly in a down market.

I think for the next 5-8 years a more prudent course of action would be to do with the police station what was done with Neary (Bill Boland gets a lot of credit for this by the way). Like Neary, there is a hard dollar cap on what we can spend before we have to completely rennovate and upgrade the police station (about 30% of its “value”). We should consider a multi year plan to carefully spend up to this sum to keep the station functional for the next decade.

tessa stephens
12 years ago

Joan,
Let me know what I can do to help. We’ve lived here for quite a while and have watched other parts of town get repaired and we’re still driving over broken roads and bumpy side walks. There’s no reason for the neglect that seems to be collecting over here.

John Kendall
12 years ago

I saw on the Cable Television Committee’s agenda that they will be looking at the Comcast licensing process during their meeting on the 28th. Does this mean we may have a 3rd option for cable service in town?

Andrew Zaterka
12 years ago

I just walked down Pine Hill Road, and it was not safe at all. In about a month the Police could pay for their new station by ticketing the commuters. The same generally goes for the afternoon commute. It’s an almost endless source of revenue, and they are all non-residents, so we keep the peace.

southborough hiker
12 years ago

Is there a way to go from the trails on the Chestnut Hill Farm to the trails on the St. Marks property off of Sears Road? It would be great to do this as it could be one long trail loop.

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