Town Meeting: Voters OK budgets, 1st Golf Course Article, & Sr. Center; Recreation wins & losses; more up tonight

Above: Town Meeting voters supported borrowing to keep the Golf Course running. More related Articles are still on the Warrant for tonight. (image cropped from SAM video)

In a meeting that went past 11:00 last night, Town Meeting voters approved spending over $55M and borrowing more than $800K. They overwhelmingly supported the Town’s requests for budgets and replenishing needed funds. And they supported most of the projects that came in front of them. Two failed, and more are up for votes tonight.

Voters showed support for keeping the Golf Course open and running. The first of four related Articles was voted on last night. It was the only one to be funded directly by taxpayers, through borrowing. The amount was lowered last night from $300K to $250K based on the bids that came in for the project.*

A few naysayers questioned spending on a course they perceived few residents to benefit from.

Freddie Gillespie responded that voters were being asked to fulfill a promise made by Town Meeting last year. A few supporters pointed out that even if the land was left to go to seed, there would be maintenance costs. They lobbied for the one time investment in changes to keep golf course management running, which would be responsible for maintaining the course (and historic vista). There was also a promised small payback to the Town from green fees each year.

More than 2/3 of voters approved the borrow. Tonight, voters will be asked to dedicate Community Preservation Act funds to the Golf Course. Currently, the Golf Course CPA Articles total over $645K, but I think it is likely that amount will also be lowered tonight due to bid results*.

Voters also overwhelmingly supported investing $30,000 in study and design for renovations for the Southborough Senior Center.

The Recreation Commission had mixed results on their big asks. Voters supported over $550K to repair a track and field and track and study the issues involved in building new fields at one site. They rejected repairing a field with water issues and investing in study of a new turf field. I’ll get into more detail on that in a later post.

Several other Articles were indefinitely postponed at the request of selectmen, including Articles on changes to the reconsideration process. (I also hope to get into that later.)

Voters continued last night’s meeting to 7:30 pm tonight, Tuesday, April 10th. The items left to decide are CPA Articles which extend beyond the Golf Course, Article 32 on Amending a zoning appeal process, and Article 35 on creating a Consent Agenda of Warrant Articles.

If you’re looking for the details on the outcome of specific Articles last night and what’s still up for vote tonight, click thumbnails below. You can also watch all of the action via Southborough Access Media’s YouTube channel.

Outcomes of ATM 2018 night 1 Up for vote at ATM 2018 night 2 - fixed

*You can see the bid results summarized on page 2 of last night’s Board of Selectmen meeting packet. Public Safety Building Contracters were asked to submit bid alternates for additional work on the Golf Course. Bid Alternate 2 represents the work for Article 15 last night. Bid Alternate 1 represents CPA Article 29.

Updated (4/10/18 4:45 pm): Replaced the thumbnail for tonight’s votes. (It had an errant field next to Article 31 that was actually the subtotal of the Golf Course CPA funds above it.)

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Jo d
6 years ago

I went to town meeting last night. If we based our opinions of the demographic of Southborough based on this meeting, one would believe that half of the town is retired. If parents want fields for their kids, it is time to show up for the meetings like this. There are some very vocal seniors that don’t want to spend more money on fields for your kids, or anything else really.
I know that town meeting is long and boring, but it is how this town runs. If you want to have your voice heard, show up! If twenty more parents were there last night Kallander field would have had the repairs that it needs.
The recreation department even offered babysitting, what is your excuse?

Julie Connelly
6 years ago
Reply to  Jo d

Jo d, I couldn’t agree more, the meeting hall is not reflective of Southborough’s demographic. Babysitting only solves part of the problem for parents because the meeting goes so late on a school night, and we ended up hiring our own babysitter so we could attend. The intent is that it is reflective of true democracy because every voice can be heard, but in practice participation is so low that ti does not always accurately reflect majority views.

6 years ago
Reply to  Jo d

I have a 7 year old. She went to the babysitting and my wife and I attended Town Meeting. But, by 9pm, I had to take her home (already an hour past her bedtime). My wife stayed.

I wish we could have both voted in favor of the Rec fields, instead of just one of us. But the trade-off shouldn’t be having to keep a 1st grader up until nearly midnight on a school night. And I wasn’t alone — several other parents had to do the same.

Imagine asking adult residents to stay at town meeting until 3am. Crazy, right? Well, that’s basically the equivalent of asking a young kid to stay up past 11 when they have school the next day.

If Town meeting was on a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon, for example, many more parents would be able to attend. I really wanted to vote on this important issue, but the current scheduling made it impossible.

SB Resident
6 years ago

I’d say rec lost all around. They had a master plan and doing some pieces without the others doesn’t make all that much sense. They took a gamble with the turf at Neary and it failed, rightly so in my opinion given that the high school doesn’t even have turf and the boondoggle that 911 field has been. But, at the end of the day the Neary field is what really needs attention. Throwing 200k at dipietri doesn’t make any sense, it is a tiny little space, to have it as the crowned, irrigated, immaculate premier field around is quite silly. That 200k would be much better served in other ways.

As for Lundblad, I’m shocked this passed, maybe after not passing kallandar and neary, people felt bad, and it was under the psychological 100k threshold, but giving that it is on the landfill, I predict the costs to do anything balloon for that project and we just blew 75k.

What should happen is rec should regroup, and at the special town meeting coming up, we should agree to leave dipietri and lundblad alone, take that 275k (and probably a bit more), do a full makeover of the Neary fields, and agree to support a Turf field at Algonquin whenever that comes up.

6 years ago
Reply to  SB Resident

How does turfing Algonquin help the field predicament in Southborough? Do you think on weekday afternoons, let alone weekends, Southborough residents will get preference versus Algonquin varsity athletics on that turf?? Also, have you driven Route 9 during a weekday from 4-6PM lately? Takes a solid 30 minutes to get to Algonquin. Why should parents take an extra hour out of a day to drive to Northborough when we have field space that could be available in Southborough?

We need a turf field of our own in Southborough (not DCR owned 9-11). It is the only sustainable solution for our youth and adult sports. It’s a shame that the short sighted residents last night were unable (or unwilling) to see that.

6 years ago

I’m not so sure that anyone was being short-sighted on that particular vote.
As I recall, we were being asked to approve a ball field that could ultimately cost $2,000,000 on a night when we were already told that our taxes were jumping rather materially.
The Rec team did receive some of their wishes and I was most impressed with the Committee Members who presented the proposals.
We’ve all seen first hand how all our fields are used and there does seem to be agreement that repairs are needed. But maybe a more staggered cadence would be more acceptable. I know the idea was to do them all so they could begin ‘resting’ fields every 5 years. Well, maybe 6 or 7 needs to be the norm for a while.

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