BOS revives Main St project and denies Planning Board request for independent counsel

Above: A DPW presentation on the Main Street Reconstruction project shared images of roads with the same “cross section”. (cropped from SAM video)

The Board of Selectmen meeting was a busy one on Tuesday night. Selectmen cast two significant votes.

The board denied a Planning Board request for independent counsel on the Park Central project.* And they approved continuing to purse the Main Street Reconstruction project.

Southborough Wicked Local covered both votes, saving me a lot of time of writing them up. So, I’ll just give some highlights and send you to SWL for the rest of the details.

Main Street Reconstruction – still alive, for now

If the state is on board, selectmen will seek bringing easements back to voters at this fall’s special Town Meeting.

If that happens, the board may also charge a committee with researching alternative plan costs with local or state Chapter 90 funds. The board will decide how to proceed based on the state officials’ vote.

That vote was scheduled for 10:00 am this morning. Public Works Superintendent Karen Galligan planned to attend along with Selectman Paul Cimino and possibly Chair John Rooney.

Public Works Superintendent kicked off the Tuesday discussion with a presentation to “debunk” myths. (Click here to see the video.) 

The presentation and debate were interesting. Details are worth sharing if the project is greenlit, but not if it’s shot down. So, for now, I’ll direct you to SWL’s article.

Planning Board fails to convince selectmen to approve independent counsel

Planning Board members requested hiring independent counsel in lieu of seeking advice from Town Counsel. They were seeking to receive an objective opinion on what they believed to be overreach by the Zoning Board of Appeals. 

The conflict stems from turf questions over a townhouse project at Park Central. Planning reasoned that asking Town Counsel, who has been advising the ZBA, would put him in an awkward position. The board didn’t propose it as getting a second opinion, since they never sought the first opinion.

Town Counsel Aldo Cipriano argued that he represents all of the Town boards in interest of the Town. He argued against the move. And he called Planning Board Chair Don Morris’ claims of great respect for him “disingenuous”.

On Monday night, Planning Member Phil Jenks clarified for the record that he had voted against the request. In January, Jenks suggested hiring counsel. But the board later opted to hold the request. In an April vote, Jenks reversed his position, saying that Cipriano should decide if he could answer their questions. When overruled, he agreed to support the board’s decision.

On Tuesday night, Jenks made the board’s case to selectmen with supporting comments from Morris, member Jesse Stein, and some residents.

Selectman Dan Kolenda made it clear up front that it would be tough for them to convince him to bypass opinions of Town Counsel. In the end, he urged the chairs of Planning and ZBA to sit down with Cipriano and work through their issues and questions.

For more details, click here for SWL’s coverage.

*Editor’s Note: John Rooney and Bonnie Phaneuf abstained from participating in the Planning Board discussion due to conflict of interest and appearance of one.

22 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
southsider
6 years ago

Wow!
I think TM was pretty clear in its opinion of the Main Street project. I think John Butler clearly articulated some issues and concerns that resonated with many in the room who were originally neutral on the subject. It wasn’t some secret “recruiting” that shot this down so overwhelmingly.
The BOS and Public Works should move on and work to fix the years of neglect around Main Street with Town funds. I think that was clearly the will of the people at TM. I still don’t understand how we moved from a $925k project to $2.25million, either. Seems a bit self serving to this observer.
The safety issue has been debunked on this site and the residents’ fear of faster traffic and a multi lane cut-thru to bypass Route 9 won’t go away.

RB
6 years ago
Reply to  southsider

Yes, it was the will of less than1 percent of all of the people of town!! It is such a sad case that clearly the tiny 1/3 majority of the, what 125 or so people in attendance at Town Meeting when the vote was taken have spoken and killed this project!

mytwocents
6 years ago
Reply to  RB

Town meeting is open to all residents, those who choose to attend make up the vote. The auditorium has 500 seats, plus the many residents standing in the back. Yes its a small percentage of the town population, but the 500 people who voted shouldn’t be disregarded.

M
6 years ago
Reply to  RB

RB, yes a tiny majority killed the project, but an even smaller number in attendance failed to get enough support. Why do we continue to assume that a large number in attendance would get a different result?

Southville
6 years ago
Reply to  southsider

The $950k to $2.25 million change has been explained several times already here. The town was asked to estimate the paving cost as if Main Street were any other stree. That came out to $950k. The issue is that it’s not the same as a residential street, and due to the load and volume it has taken over the years and will continue to take, it’s a more costly rework.

SouthboroDave
6 years ago

Great, bring it back. I’ll be sure to show and support the project!

mytwocents
6 years ago

It is my understanding we voted an overwhelming no for the Main st project and then a second vote to take it off the table in the future.
What is the point of town meeting if the powers at be can disregard the tax payers vote?
Why bother to attend and vote at all?

Al Hamilton
6 years ago

2 Cents

1. From where I sat, the vote on main street looked close to 50-50 with an edge to the opponents.

2. I do not believe there was a reconsideration vote for Main St and in any event that would only apply to the then current Town Meeting

The “will of Town Meeting” only exists until the next Town Meeting. What one town meeting enacts a subsequent town meeting can repeal (with a few exceptions). The barriers to calling a town meeting are low, Annually, by the BOS or 100 voters.

The opponents of Main St did a good job turning out their supporters (good for them). The Selectmen on the other hand did a lousy job of getting the supporters of their agenda to the meeting (shame on them) and they had a much larger burden since they needed 2/3 votes.

Now it appears that the BOS are going to organize to bring supporters of their agenda to a Town Meeting. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. At least I hope they are or we are wasting a lot of time and effort. We can safely assume that the opponents will mobilize so the BOS had better put its backs in this effort which they have not done in the past. They cannot just assume that the committees they appoint will do all the heavy lifting. So far, I regret to say I have not seen any evidence of this effort.

The opponents of Main Street made a significant mistake in not appealing to the voters. To secure their temporary victory, they should have run a slate of candidates for Selectmen who’s views of the project were acceptable to them. Their victory would have sent a far more powerful message

This shifting tide of getting your advocates to TM is one reason why I suggested representative TM. That would provide a more stable legislature that would be more constant in their opinion.

M
6 years ago

Al,
Two cents? Really? No, you are throwing a lot more coin in that comment. Your anger is pouring out.
I do not know where you get all your information regarding some organized attempt to bring out opponents. This concept is so paranoid and comical at the same time. You may be confusing our little TM with that big contest going on in the country .
I know many of the folks who went to TM and voted against the project. No one persuaded my friends and neighbors to go as a conspiracy against it. These are active, intelligent and engaged citizens who went to TM for many reasons. They go fairly regularly if not every year. I’d say half of them went with an open mind on several issues, and the other half have disliked the Main Street project for a long time. I cannot speak for everyone who voted against it, but I know enough of those voters to know your assumptions are wrong.
However, thank you very much for telling us all that you and the BOS are planning to “mobilize” now. If the opponents did not organize before, they certainly will now,

Al Hamilton
6 years ago
Reply to  M

M

Yes, it is true, I meet with the BOS every time there is a full moon. After the incantations and sacrifices we settle down with the Templars and Trilateral Commission to plot how to destroy the town. Clear cutting, paving with a McDonalds on every corner is the agenda for the next meeting.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with conducting an information campaign and a concerted effort to get those who support your position to attend Town Meeting. That is the “ground game” of democracy. Getting your voters to attend is just part of the process.

The folks who supported saving the Burnett House did this (good for them). The folks who opposed the Marijuana Dispensary did this (good for them). The Selectmen did not do this even though they needed 2/3 (shame on them for failing “Town Meeting 101”)

We have all been to town meetings where there has been a significant turn out for a particular issue. After that issue is passed there is a mass exodus to the door. Those folks were animated by an information campaign of the sorts we are talking about.

Before you consider that there is an evil cabal trying to thwart our form of democracy, consider that perhaps, 5 good people, democratically elected by a majority of the voters, might actually believe that their agenda is in the best interest of the town and are willing to push in forward in spite of a temporary setback.

M
6 years ago

Al,
Regarding the slate of candidates for BOS: I vote for the candidate that I think brings talent, intelligence, dedication, and a fair and open mind. A Selectperson has a complex job and requires so much time and years of work. I don’t know of someone who would run on the basis of one issue. But your comment harks back to your previous posts regarding a BOS that should be all-powerful and never questioned. I really wonder if other citizens are seeing the same vision of our town that you do. Anarchy, Serfs and Overlords, Representative Democracy, or Communal Harmony? Where does our little town fit in? (There is one Selectman that has a keen resemblance to the WIzard of Oz…)

Bored of the Selectmen
6 years ago

This project was rejected just a month ago at the Town Meeting. I cannot remember specifically how many years in a row this project has been rejected at Town Meeting but it has been at least two years. All of the Selectmen and Bored members were in attendance at these meetings. And yet, just a month later, in a smaller meeting, these same officials decide to continue pursuing this project? Why do I bother going to Town Meeting? Do I have to attend every meeting throughout the year to make sure you honor the will of the voters? Very disappointing.

Al Hamilton
6 years ago

“Do I have to attend every meeting throughout the year to make sure you honor the will of the voters?”

The short answer is YES.

The “Will of Town Meeting” only applies to the most recent vote on any given subject. Town Meeting can change it’s mind any time it likes.

Publius
6 years ago

Mr. Hamilton is spot on. The will of one TM can be changed by the next TM. Perhaps with a good turnout the will of the people will be settled once and for all.

Southsider
6 years ago

Love the idea that the paving of Main Street couldn’t be originally estimated properly and the “new” estimate increased by more than 100%! All the expected work and features were included in the original $925k estimate.

I wonder if the new and higher Town costs might be a bit self serving.

Meanwhile, as the BOS tries to go back and try again, Main Street continues to deteriorate.

Townie
6 years ago

This issue has been beaten like a dead horse for so long. The road needs to be paved, and no one wants to budge on widening. Fine, leave it the same dimensions, put a new side walk in where there is one now, put some nice curbs and greenery, and repave it. My only gripe is with the funeral home and Dr Stone’s office. Where customers park their cars now, IS a side walk. There’s no if and or but about it, it’s illegal and has gone too long unenforced. These 2 businesses need to take into consideration pedestrians safety for their customers, and the children of Fay school that walk down these roads on a daily basis. If these 2 businesses depend on these spots for parking so much, then the town should force them to use their own property for parking. They both don’t want to loose these precious parking spots, yet they don’t want to give up property for them. Shame on them.

M
6 years ago

Townie,
You have a valid concern. I believe Mr. Morris made a statement at Town Meeting that his business is attempting to convert the lot next to his funeral home for parking. If this involves zoning variances of any sort, I hope the Town boards will support his effort. Perhaps Mr. Morris could rent one of his new parking spaces to Dr. Stone’s business for non-funeral days. Perhaps Fay School could add to their children’s safety by leasing one space from the old Renke building lot behind Dr. Stone’s. Then our Public Safety Officers could fairly enforce no parking on sidewalks. It would help if all of these local businesses worked together for safety sake. Especially after the support they received at TM against easements. Thinking outside of the box and acting like a cooperative community may be all that we need.

Townie
6 years ago
Reply to  M

I do not think Dr. Stone’s should ask anyone if they can rent a spot. Their property has plenty of space behind the building where multiple people can park. The town should hold their ground and tell them to stop using public side walks as parking and to use the portion of property behind their building. That way all parking for their business is off public roads and is no longer a hazard. It was their choice to use their private residence as their business, it’s their responsibility to provide parking for their business on their property.

Donna McDaniel
6 years ago

Just a note that “Townie” might likely know that Dr. Stone is either 100 or 101 years old… born in 1915–so might need help getting into a car. Yes, doesn’t mean car must be parked on Main St.– Someone could get a car from the back and pick him up but let’s appreciate that, after some shopping for his brand new practice so many years ago, he chose Southborough and Main Street, in the middle of town, as the best place to open his practice. Yes, he did choose an office/residence there so many years ago and the town has been all the better for it.

n
6 years ago

How has the town been “all the better for it”?

It’s hard for me to understand how a business that requires sidewalks to park on in the most central part of our town has made it any better.

  • © 2022 MySouthborough.com — All rights reserved.