[Ed note: My Southborough accepts signed letters to the editor submitted by Southborough residents. Letters may be emailed to email@example.com.]
To the Editor:
After reading your story about the Saint Marks construction project this week I was left wondering and a little confused as to the exact sequence of events. I have put together my own brief summary in this letter to the editor and welcome comments from community members and readers to critique my letter and let me and others know if I am understanding the story correctly. The chain of events is listed below as I can best put them together.
1) Take a look at Town Manager Mr. Purple’s email exchange with Barry Lorion of MA-DOT (attached). Many months AFTER the taxpayers unanimously voted against the “license” agreement at Spring 2022 town meeting denying legal permission to proceed, Town Manager Mr. Purple told the state in August and September of 2022 that there was an on-going valid “license” agreement with St. Mark’s. What he expressly OMITTED was the fact that the Town taxpayers had REJECTED the license agreement on May 4, 2022 at spring town meeting.
See the express language of the “license” agreement. It required Town Meeting approval at town meeting. It didn’t happen. Town Manager Mr. Purple NEVER MENTIONS to Barry Lorion that the easements were voted down by the taxpayers. He uses language that I find misleading, referring to “easements” and possible purchase of the parcels. He refers to parcels that “were” owned by St. Mark’s as though it was past tense. The parcels are still owned by St. Mark’s.
In terms of background information:
2) Upon application of the “Emergency” Grant, when the State expressly asked for specific clarity about which were town owned parcels (on what parcels were the state taxpayer funds being spent) , DPW manager Ms. Galligan sent to the administrator of MA-DOT Shared Street Program an unsigned, unstamped concept plan (drawn by VHB) that depicted the southern portion of St. Mark’s land as Town owned land.
3) This site plan was posted by MY SB on February 2, 2021 along with an announcement of the granting of the Grant.
4) On that site plan, there was NO MENTION OR DEPICTION of a taking and discontinuance of a PUBLICLY OWNED ROAD to give to St. Marks for a “swap.” St. Mark’s wants the OWNERS OF THE ROAD, the taxpayers, to GIVE THEM AN ACTIVELY USED, SAFE, ALREADY ENGINEERED AND ADJUSTED ROAD to be used for parking spaces. I don’t blame them, after all they someday may be a big taxpayer.
5) Based on the site plan DPW Manager Ms. Galligan submitted to the State, this led the public and the state to logically believe that the “swap” or license never involved a ROAD. The site plan never showed a road as part of any deal with the St. Marks private school.
6) Chapter 90 monies (taxpayer funded) cannot by law be spent on private land. Google and read “Chapter 90” law. That’s expressly what it says. You can’t spend it first OR AT ALL. Also, you can’t SPEND FIRST, then ASK FOR PERMISSION LATER ON AN ALREADY COMPLETED PROJECT. But that’s EXACTLY what has been promoted by the Select Board. A Town lawyer was consulted and stated that his office reviewed the license agreement, and they had no problem with it. And the clients and law firm kept promulgating the “license.” (This questionable “license” was ultimately removed from the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with St. Mark’s.)
7) The town road budget was DEPLETED, Chapter 90 monies spent, and the $290k “Emergency” Grant signed by A lead selectperson was spent on privately owned St. Mark’s property.
8) KEY to the equation is the fact that apparently neither the select person NOR the DPW management checked the TOWN HISTORY BOOK that depicted the site as a Nipmuc Burial Ground. DPW proceeded with work on the site, even after the town was alerted.
9) The state was asking where the money was being spent and on what, i.e. what portion was Town owned land. The fact is that NONE of it was Town owned land.
10) The town did not and does not own the land to this day.
11) The “license” agreement was signed in late November 2021, after the trees were razed, site was excavated, and $20k of gravel and a road was placed on the St. Mark’s owned site.
12) Again, a legal firm hired by the town stated that they reviewed the license agreement and had no problem with it. Questions arose about its timing and legal validity and legal authority — and it was ultimately removed. The taxpayers have paid for these tortured legal machinations.
13) As required by law, taxpayers hold the legal authority by vote at town meeting over any transfer of a real property interest, i.e. easement or outright sale of the land and financing at simple interest.
14) In the attached email chain, Town Manager Mr. Purple (not the State) summarized meetings with the State for the State (Barry Lorion). However, Lorion was STILL INQUIRING FOR CLARIFICATION about all work taking place in the PUBLIC DOMAIN.
15) Work completed to date is NOT IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN. It is on private land.
Thank you and I welcome constructive feedback,
Southborough Taxpayer and voter
My opinion is that townspeople need to take a hard look at what’s being said here as it’s not just one person there are many. This is just the tip of many ice bergs in our town. Thank you Mr. Barron for your due diligence.
Thank you, Jack Barron, for your thoughtful, detailed and accurate description of what has gone on with this corrupt Project, the St Marks Road Project.
Let me begin by explaining how I am qualified to write about public corruption in construction projects. I am no stranger to public corruption. I was a top State official in the 1980’s at the newly created Division of Capital Planning and Operations, DCPO was created as a result of the Ward Commission, which looked into wide-spread corruption on State construction projects in the 1970’s and 80’s. Several public officials and private contractors were jailed. Many were fined. As a result, the entire process of budgeting, programming, designing and contracting of State projects was completely over-hauled. I am also a qualified Architect, Building Inspector, and City Planner.
Corruption on the St Marks Road Project started small in 2019 and then it grew and morphed in different directions, all of them getting worse. If you CLICK on the following link, you can read a TWO PAGE SUMMARY of the offences committed BY PUBLIC OFFICIALS in the course of this project, up to the end of 2022. It is titled “Five Offences By Officials: St Marks Rd Project, Southborough”. Dated Dec 20, 2022, and corrected 1.1.2023. You can read it in this LINK:
This document has been reviewed with the Southborough Chief of Police, and it has been sent to the State Attorney General and Inspector General. It has also been sent to State DOT officials, because their grant money was mis-used, deliberately, by the Town Administrator Mark Purple, and the former DPW Superintendent Karen Galligan, who recently resigned because of the many scandals on this project. (More on this matter follows below.)
I first became aware of this corruption two months ago, after attending a public meeting in November, about one component of the St Marks Road Project. (I was NOT aware earlier, because I was sick and was unable to attend either of the two, raucous Town Meetings — at which this Project was rejected, twice, by overwhelming majorities. After the Fall 2022 Town Meeting, the Selectboard decided to stop construction. By then, over $ half million had been spent, draining funds from other road projects elsewhere in town. The site has been sitting there, abandoned, ever since.
The Selectboard are coming back in the March 25 Town Meeting and they will ask you, all of you, to more than DOUBLE that spending, to well over $ one million. You might wonder — Double our tax money, you must be kidding? Did we ask for this Project?, Whose idea was it? Who is it for?
Now there you have the KEY QUESTION — WHO IS IT FOR?
THE PROJECT IS PRINCIPALLY TO HELP ST MARKS SCHOOL GET A FREE PARKING LOT.
Yes, I am afraid it is true.
IT IS BEING DONE BECAUSE OF A REQUEST FROM ST MARKS SCHOOL, WHICH OUR SLECTBOARD AGREED TO !
How do I know this is true? Because I have questioned most all of the principals involved (including the road engineers). All except for the most “principal” of all — the Town Administrator, Mark Purple. He remains elusive and (I believe) the guiding hand behind the whole charade. He was in charge of Karen Galligan, and he was the single person directly responsible for mis-use of State grant funds.
Why was construction stopped? The list of reasons is long, so let’s list only the most notorious offenses, such as unauthorized tree cutting, fear of grave disturbance, stone wall removal, zero notice to (or review by) any town board, mis-use of State funds, resulting in the Town being shut out of any future State grants — and so forth. This led to very unhappy campers — especially the Planning Board and residents who pay high taxes, and are fed up with St Marks contributing so little in Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT).
SOME DATA ON PILOT PAYMENTS: St Marks has an assessed value of $115,500,000. If they were a normal FOR proft enterprise, they would be paying $1,704,000 in local property taxes. What they actually paid last year was just $90,000. And in a typical year, they pay only $40,000. St Marks actually pays less than some single-family houses pay. And yet, get this, St Marks continues to buy up houses, and occupy them with their own employees — who send their children NOT to St Marks, but to OUR local public schools –WITHOUT PAYING A DIME. How would you characterize that behaviour? Ethical?
The Project cannot survive any serious examination or questioning. For instance:
* What is the Public purpose of this project ?
* Why is the Town spending over $1 million to build a new intersection and road, and (most notorious of all) a “free” parking lot for St Marks School
* Why is the Town abandoning a perfectly good road and intersection ? — This is the oldest road in town, and an authentic Indian trail — when that road is perfectly functional, and it was only recently rebuilt in 2005. Furthermore, it has had no traffic accidents since it was rebuilt. So it is perfectly safe. Why then, are the Selectboard saying it must be removed and replaced?
Following the Fall Town Meeting, our Selectboard came under a new chairperson, Katherine Cook, who previously was a severe critic of he Project, but has now changed into a NO QUESTIONS ASKED supporter. She has told me, adamantly, several times, that “MY BOARD HAS VOTED ALREADY, AND WE WILL NOT CHANGE OUR MINDS, DESPITE ALL YOUR EVIDENCE). The Selectboard voted unanimously last May, to CONTINUE the Project to completion.
THE POCKET PARK
The meeting where I first started to learn about the problems, took place last Fall, November 2022. Itt was about just one component part of the overall Project — a small park, north of the Old Cemetery. This is where the contractor, without any warning, cut down all those mature trees, and dug up a large area of ground where historians believe indian graves exist.(The grave survey done for the HIstorical Commission identified likely sites near the old stone walls).
This park was first proposed by Galligan, using State grant money. But the State never expected it to be up there in an isolated location, far from any homes or pedestrians, The State actually wanted it to be along Main Street, where people actually live and walk, and it was supposed to complement the $15 million “Main Street Reconstruction Project” which is still not yet completed. But Galligan pushed for her northern, isolated location — basically intending the park to “dress up” her unwanted project. This park was never asked for by town residents, is situated far from any homes, is next to a busy highway (85) and is completely unnecessary. The first mention of this park was by Galligan, before the Selectboard on Dec 20, 2022.
THE MIS-USE OF THE STATE DOT GRANT OF $290,000.
Now, let us turn our attention to a new subject — the mis-use and mis-management of the $290,000 State grant, which was awarded to the town by State DOT, under their “Shared Streets Program”. Mr Lorion is the highest State official in our region. He is Director of District 3 in Worcester. Mr Lorion called me in January, after he had read my two page summary of corruption on the St Marks Road Project (referenced above in the LINK).
Mr Lorion expressed his gratitude to me, because he said he was finally able to understand the various ways in which public corruption has pervaded this project. Mr Lorion previously did his own investigation, (along with the State Inspector General). There were two currput practices.
(1) Most of the grant money, intended for a public project on public land, was spent on private property ,(St Marks land), which is illegal.
(2) Most of the funds were spent on NON-eligible items (a road and parking lot), when the funds should have been spent ONLY on eligible items (a sidewall and park).
Mr Lorion was unable to ascertain just how much of the funds were spent illegally, because (a) he was not present at the construction site, and (b) he was limited by the persons whom he met with. Of course, by now you might have guessed what happened …. Mr Lorion met with the road engineer and the ONLY local officials present weree the Town Administrator Mark Purple, and DPW Superintendent Karen Galligan. What is so ironic is that Purple and Galligan were the officials responsible for the corruption. So they were able to simply tell Lorion what they wanted him to hear — that all the funds were spent, in some minor way or another, on the eligible items. Lorion was unable to refute the claims, because he had no other information. In fact, I believe the facts will show that Lorion was lied to, in an effort (by Purple and Galligan) to avoid having the State come down hard on the town for deliberate mis-use of public funds.
In the end, however, Lorion was able to punish the town for mis-use of public funds. He did this: He insisted that Purple write down in his letter of agreement to Lorion, that State DOT was going to give the Town a simple choice — EITHER the town must refund all the grant money back to the State, OR the town must find your own local money and finish the sidewalk and park that the Town promised to build , using the State grant.
THE FAKE AND EXAGGERATED CLAIM OF FLOODING AT THE EXISATINGF INTERSECTION.
What was Galligan’s justification for removing and replacing the existing road and intersection ?
Galligan exaggerated a minor ponding issue into a dangerous “flooding” problem at the existing intersection. She also made claims that the Project would somehow prevent future flooding at the library. The following were her claims and falsehoods:
1. THE ATTEMPT TO DISGUISE, OR JUSTIFY, AN UN-NECESSARY PUBLIC WORKS PROJECT, BY MAKING FALSE CLAIMS ABOUT EXAGGERATED PROBLEMS.
2. THE GIFT, OF A FREE PARKING LOT PAID FOR BY TOWN TAXPAYERS, TO A VERY WEALTHY PRIVATE INSTITUTION, ST MARKS SCHOOL, WHEN THE DPW PERSON IN CHARGE WAS AN ALUMNUS.
“Flooding” sounds DANGEROUS. And that claim of “danger” was in fact a deliberate ploy by Karen Galligan — to exaggerate, mislead and justify fake problems The truth is that the standing water is very shallow, and the reason it can no longer flow off the road, as it once did, is because a stone wall was built which blocks the flow. The previous natural flow was along a shallow, grassed drainage swale, heading north towards the lakes on St Marks property situated west of 85, near the “new” dormitories west of 85. (Note that the high point in ground elevation is actually at the intersection, so that water could flow north from that point.)
It is so ironic that the cause of the ponding was none other than St Marks School itself. The stone wall was built by St Marks School, soon after the road intersection had been enlarged to modern standards, in about 2005. The wall was built within the town road right-of-way, and without any required permits or site plan approval from the Town. For twenty years, as the shallow potholes in the road pavement have grown deeper, St Marks neglected to put things right. They could easily have knocked a hole in the bottom of the wall (or removed a section, or installed a pipe). But nothing was done. Then along came Karen Galligan, (an alumnus of St Marks), who proclaimed that the intersection was beyond repair. She claimed the intersection must be replaced with a brand new one located 300 feet to the south, along with an entirely new section of road linking the new intersection at 85 to existing St Marks Road.
The real facts are that the existing road and intersection work just fine, and have done so for twenty years since being rebuilt. But there is another ironic fact that we must emphasize here: Under the construction that has already been completed and paid for, (before construction was stopped) —
LARGE STORM WATER DRAINAGE PIPES HAVE ALREADY BEEN INSTALLED, IN THE CENTER OF RT 8, — FROM MAIN ST ALL THE WAY UP TO THE INTERSECTION — SO THIS HAS DEFINITELY SOLVED ANY REMAINING “FLOODING” ISSUES AT THE EXISTING INTERSECTION.
NOTHIING MORE NEEDS DOING TO THE EXISTING INTERSECTION AND ROAD. THEY ARE JUST FINE THE WAY THEY ARE . THEY DO NOT NEED TO BE REMOVED IN ORDER TO BUILD A FREE PARKING LOT FOR ST MARKS SCHOOL IN THAT LOCATION (under a land swap arrangment).
GALLIGAN’S FALSE CLAIM THAT THE PROJECT SOLVED FLOODING AT THE LIBRARY.
Karen Galligan also made false claims about the Project solving any remaining flooding at the Library. The fact is that the Library flooding was fully solved by several million dollars spent for drains and catch-basins, installed courtesy of the Main Street Reconstruction Program. in about 2015.
What Galligan claimed to Library officials was this: The contactor miraculously discovered the culprit, namely a “stream” hidden underground. and the contractor fed that stream into a large pipe, and led that pipe down Rt 85. This is all a bald-faced lie — conjured up to give the Project a semblance of usefulness, so that Library officials might join Galligan in supporting the Project. (Ask the Town Facilities manager, John Parent, because he understands and knows the truth …. This Project has no benefit to the library in terms of flooding).
The Project needs to be terminated. Let St marks build their own parking lot on their own land.
We need to spend no more funds on this project, other than our obligation to pay for the sins which were committed by the Town Administrator and DPW Sup — who together mis-used the State grant.
We must first come up with our own source of $290,000.
Then we must EITHER pay the $290,000 back to the State, OR we must come use the $290,000it to build a new sidewalk up 85, to St Marks School, possibly along with a few other minor walkways in the vicinity — which might make us “eligible” under Mr Lorion’s keen stare.
Thank you Mr. Parry!
I share the other posters irritation at the way this project was conceived, rolled out and executed. I would respectfully suggest that the best way forward is to take certain corrective actions and find the lowest cost way to put this sorry experience behind us. In doing so it is important to remember that the Select Board (SB) are our neighbors and honorable people trying to do the right thing and serving our community in a burdensome and largely thankless job. I do not believe they were well served in this case by some of our employees or town counsel.
The first lesson to be learned is that “Just because it might be legal does not make it right!” I have received several other reports about Town Counsels penchant for pushing the envelope in terms of accruing authority in the Select Board at the expense of other elected boards and Town Meeting. I suggest that the SB have a serious heart to heart with Town Counsel about the need to seek a middle way lest Town Meeting have a heart to heart with the SB about legal budgets. Such an action would be unfortunate.
Secondly, the SB needs to convince Town Meeting that is has reviewed the performance of town employees, and have taken the appropriate steps to see that a repeat of this debacle is avoided in the future. Given that the SB are part time volunteers there is a significant risk that they become the captives of our employees and counsel rather than the captains. The SB needs to make sure it is clear who is in charge.
Thirdly, for those unsatisfied with the current performance of the SB, find a candidate to take on the thankless job of being a Select Person based on the need for ultimate accountability for this situation.
What is to be done:
I believe that the lowest cost path out of this situation is the one now being offered by the SB. The SB has dropped the disrespectful “license” agreement and has put all it’s eggs in the basket being proposed at Town Meeting. This includes funding of up to $250k for the completion of the park. This will presumably meet the state requirements. This appears to me to be the lowest cost path out of this situation. The alternatives appear to require more money and are fraught with their own questions.
It is time to put this messy situation behind us. The damage has been done and now we need to be the adults in the room and fix it. I believe the Select Boards proposal reflects what they heard at Town Meeting and is the best of the available options.
Al, with all due respect, your lectures on proper roles only apply in a perfect world. This BOS is screwing over the taxpayers under the cover of bad town counsel. What are We the “taxpayers” getting out of this? Except the bill and the legal bills. And we are losing an existing in-use road owned by the taxpayers?
FELLOW TAXPAYERS: JUST VOTE NO on St. Marks bad deal for taxpayers.
Vote NO to the Select Board’s latest ITERATION of a CRAZY deal with ST. MARK’S TO GIVE THEM A CURRENTLY IN-USE TOWN ROAD to use for a FEW PARKING SPACES. Last spring, Town meeting floor overwhelmingly rejected the easements for St. Mark’s Triangle. But this deal has gone from bad to worse. Now the deal has morphed from a legally questionable license agreement, a total slap in the face to taxpayers, to an outright “Purchase and Sale,” a so-called “swap” that results in an unnecessary giveaway of an existing town road.
The Select Board and Town Counsel are not acting in the best interest of the town. While Town Counsel currys favor with BOS, this “Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)” runs off the rails and right over the taxpayers and Planning Board, your elected officials.
We have already lived through decades of bad town counsel. In recent history, what the town did to our family is proof enough: We need a real change to a qualified firm that recognizes and respects the law and taxpayers, not skirt both with agonized contortions while invoicing the taxpayers for same.
Town counsel should be replaced.
As a longtime resident, business owner and taxpayer, in my humble opinion, the simple answer and BEST TEMPORARY INTERIM solution now resides in two words: VOTE NO. This is a business deal that makes no sense and shoves the bill at the taxpayer to pay the BILL on this unfair, unequal, unnecessary screwball deal.
The town needs a new plan that possibly trades a DIFFERENT parcel, but NOT an EXISTING TOWN ROAD. Whatever the new deal is, it must be a viable BUSINESS PLAN in favor of the town, NOT St. Mark’s. Remember the hidden costs of the golf course deal.
Also, there must be REAL ACCOUNTABILITY for all who contributed to this bad deal, this SB fiasco, including past and present SB “liaisons” for failed PILOT fiascos. This is all part of the math.
Al, your math is incorrect, as I’m sure there will be more costs revealed as this unfolds. St. Marks and their crony buddies on BOS who were supposed to be negotiating PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) got $80,000 from St. Mark’s that miraculously “appeared” at the last Spring town meeting.
Little did the town know that it was being screwed out of a TOWN ROAD for a few parking spaces, along with at least a half million dollars of illegal spending of taxpayer funds on PRIVATE LAND.
Add on $250k to finish a “pocket park” that no one wants, nor asked for, nor locationally makes any sense whatsoever. A park on top of a new road AND INTERSECTION THAT WAS NOT REQUESTED TO BE MOVED BY THE TOWN, BUT PUT FORWARD BY VHB, DPW’s expensive make-work engineer.
We are giving away a road for a few parking spaces for St.Mark’s outside guests? WTH? The current MOU calls for a “swap,” a purchase and sale of the existing St. Mark’s Road, an IN USE TOWN ROAD!. Add this bit of crazy to the $500k spent so far on (including illegally spent bits) VHB engineering design plans to DESIGN THE PARKING LOT (WTH), a new road, a park, excavation costs, razing and removal of trees, and the $20k of gravel Healey threw in from taxpayer pockets, all financed with YOUR tax dollars and all without our knowledge.
Town counsel has the legal situation bass ackwards. St. Mark’s upgradient property and the stone wall they moved allegedly caused the $600k or so of FLOODING AT THE LIBRARY. How is it ok to reward all of this controversial behavior by all and bad neighbor St. Mark’s with an in-use, already engineered and taxpayer funded road for them to use as a parking lot? They are getting ready to develop the former public safety buildings site. Does this look like an entity that’s hurting? Or needs our public road for more parking for their outside guests for athletic events? WTH??
NO. This needs to be a DIFFERENT DEAL FOR A DIFFERENT piece of REAL ESTATE altogether for the “swap,” a regular parcel of land – NOT an in-use road – perhaps on the other side of campus. This isn’t an equal, good or fair deal. This isn’t a “swap.” It’s another bad iteration of a bad idea on a bad location and unfavorable business deal.
A “yes” vote actually rewards St. Marks and the inventors of this screwball deal and runs roughshod over taxpayers who OBJECT and want real meaningful accountability. What’s to stop this from happening tomorrow?
I completely disagree with your opinion on the BOS. They knew what they knew when they knew it. See their Minutes. Follow the timeline and see the tape played at last Spring town meeting. Here’s the tape. https://vimeo.com/705491639
On this tape, Kathy Cook (current BOS chair), while on Advisory, speaks to the town road budget as DEPLETED. The taxpayers were not alerted by, before, or at town meeting in November 2021. Let’s not forget the Purple Kool-Aid served up to the State. This entire debacle got barely a mention as public airplay and awareness after TAXPAYERS caught on and starting doing PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS. The residents are owed all a world of thanks for public EXPOSURE of this mess.
This BOS has given the few taxpayers who caught on THREE MINUTES to state their case and then ignore them, running roughshod over them, full steam ahead, in terrible ignorance of the full picture and costs.
For meaningful accountability, I urge you, fellow taxpayers, to VOTE NO to any article proposing a purchase of St. Mark’s triangle land as a “swap” for an EXISTING ROAD that has already been engineered, adjusted, and paid for by the TAXPAYERS.
We agree on more than we disagree on. This is the “Park Nobody Wanted” (except perhaps St. Marks). The “License” agreement was a slap in Town Meetings face. The deal was never in the towns best interest. The SB was poorly advised (at best) by town employees and town counsel but the SB bears ultimate responsibility for this fiasco. The whole business has an unpleasant odor.
For me, the question is how do we put this behind us and move forward. My only goal is to find the option that costs the least. Right now, I believe that is the SB proposal as follows:
1. The sidewalk that will run from the Library to the intersection of the road (wherever it is) is already planned and funded as part of the Main Street Project.
2. The SB Plan involves $250k for the park and a yet to be determined amount for completion of the road. I believe the road bed is already in place. I believe the decommissioning of the old road is the responsibility of St. Marks.
3. The “give the $290k back and walk away” plan will cost $290k + whatever it takes to clean up the mess (as my mom used to say, “you made the mess you clean it up”). I don’t think this is a matter picking up the piles and throwing down some grass seed. I believe that some trees will have to be planted and the partially finished roadbed will have to be removed as well as possibly rebuilding a stone wall.
My Kentucky windage estimate is that #3 is more expensive that #2. That is the sole basis for my supporting #2. If someone has a well thought out plan that costs less I would support it.
As for accountability, I agree that it is necessary. It starts with those ultimately responsible, the Select Board. I choose to take a charitable view of the motives of the members of the SB but that does not diminish the need for them to be held accountable. That accountability starts at the Ballot Box.
In answer to Mr Hamilton. The “STOP all work by the Town’ option costs what ? — Exactly ZERO.
Anything else needed can be funded in future years, after St Marks gets their act together, and cleans up the ugly site in the normal course of doing what SHOULD have been done all aling — build their own parking lot ON THEIR OWN LAND.
St Marks can’t cry poverty. Or complain about the mess. Instead, they can take full advantage of everything which the Town has already installed … hundreds of tons of gravel, and an underground drainage system -‘ which St Marks can now use, for free. That is is a huge gift from the Town. We owe nothing. In fact we couldcargue that we should be paid back for all the work the Town has done already, to benefit St Marks.
John. You are correct in so many ways.
As an elderly gentleman complained angrily to me yesterday, while he was loading salt into his bucket, at the Transfer Station …
” Why the (blank) did they start this stupid Project in the first place ? WHO was in charge? ”
Good question. The answer is the Town Administrator. Mark Purple. He supervised the DPW’s Karen Galligan, who dreamed up the complicated give-away to St Marks School , her Alma Mater. Yes indeed. You heard that correctly. She is an alumnus. AND St Marks actually asked for the ” free ” parking lot. That is a FACT, relayed to me by the consulting engineers VHB who was present at the early meetings in 2019 and 2020.
John, on ONE issue only do I disagree — You hint at possibly swapping a different parcel than the valuable existing road parcel — which almost everyone agrees should NOT be given away , but instead should CONTINUE FOREVER as a public road.
But the bigger point is, there is no need to swap ANY parcels , because St Marks has PLENTY of land already, for a parking lot — on their large, vacant triangle of grass ( which was previously used for parking — on grass — for decades.) They can build their own parking lot, on THEIR OWN LAND WITHOUT ANY HELP from the Town.
St Marks has already benefitted enormously from the “free” gravel which the Town has spread on St Marks land. As well as benefitting from the underground drainage pipes which the Town paid for and St Marks can use.
The Town nust simply STOP. Let St Marks do their own thing, at their own expense.
This project should never have started. It has no legitimate public purpose. It is a private give- away.
Southborough’s GIS map (https://www.mapsonline.net/southboroughma/index.html#x=-7963069.577448,5207064.209751,-7962496.299736,5207346.967039) and Assessor’s map https://www.southboroughtown.com/sites/g/files/vyhlif7351/f/uploads/map_54_5.pdf) apparently show:
I say apparently because the maps could be out of date. Does anyone know?
I walked the area today, and it appeared to me that David Parry is correct that the previous drainage was to the north, probably into St. Mark’s driveway to its soccer and field hockey field.
Kelly, correct wall is not on St. Mark’s property, but St. Mark’s got permission to put in the wall from the SB. See pages 31-39 of packet below for more info.
Thank you, Andrew. I had heard that the GIS and Assessor’s maps are correct, but it’s good to see this confirmed in print. I had also heard that St. Marks asked for a received permission, and the agenda packet you’ve linked to shows the license agreement that the Select Board used to bless this result.
This was not a transfer of interest in a property since it’s technically revocable, but the town property behind St. Marks’ lovely stone wall certainly <i>looks</i> like it now belongs to St. Marks. And we the town have already solved the drainage problem at our expense, even if it might have been solved by removing all or part of the new wall.
A few thoughts:
A SELECT BOARD IN DENIAL — OF MANY LIES.
I am going to give you a glaring, recent example of a recent, deliberate lie on this project.
But first, here is a serious question: Have you ever heard the Select Board correct any of the lies ? There are two reasons why they don’t bother:
(1) They don’t correct the lies, because they are so GULLIBLE and naive, that they actually believe the lies must be true. They do not think it is possible that a Town Official, like Galligan, would actually lie.
(2) They don’t correct the lies, because the lies are HELPFUL to their pet project, by helping to “justify” it. For instance, by claiming the PURPOSE IS TO SOLVE A ROAD FLOODING PROBLEM, when, in fact THE OPPOSITE IS TRUE. Let’s look at this “flooding” issue in more detail:
(a) The lies about flooding start with a simple fact — THE ROAD FLOODING WAS ORIGINALLY CAUSED BY ST MARKS SCHOOL, when they built their wall, within the roadway. This was allowed by Karen Galligan, the former DPW Superintendent, who is a St Marks alumnus, no less. Galligan kept the project hidden from public review, by obtaining an ILLEGAL “LICENSE” for St Marks. (Licenses are controlled by the Select Board, and have been used in the past in Southborough to intentionally avoid town Meeting review and approval. Normally, an easement is required, but that needs Town Meeting approval). This was all achieved thanks to two town officials — the St Marks School ALUMNUS Karen Galligan, former DPW Superintendent, (who quit last year, because she had brought such chaos and shame on the town), and her boss, the Town Administrator, Mark Purple.
Of course, DPW Sup Galligan (being in charge of roads) SHOULD HAVE ORDERED ST MARKS – – AT THEIR EXPENSE — TO CORRECT THE FLOODING, WHICH THEY HAD CAUSED. But no good alumnus would do such a thing. Instead, she got approval from the Town Administrator, Mark Purple, to spend our hard-earned tax dollars to correct the flooding, which Marks had caused — by installing a new 12 inch drain pipe, under Rt 85 to the intersection. SO THE END RESULT IS THAT ALL OF THE REST OF US. THE TAX-PAYERS, ARE NOW PAYING FOR THE CONSTRUCTION ERRORS COMMITTED BY ST MARKS, INSTALLING A PRIVATE WALL IN A PUBLIC ROADWAY.
(Unfortunately, that isn’t the end of the graft and gift giving, because we still have the “free parking lot” to come.)
(b) The second lie about “flooding”, is that Galligan could use it to “disguise” the real purpose of the Project – – which is perfectly obvious to anyone paying attention — IT IS TO GIVE ST MARKS SCHOOL A FREE GIFT OF A PARKING LOT, PAID FOR BY THE TOWN.
The problem is that, SO MANY LIES WERE SPREAD by Galligan, that some have stuck and been accepted as the truth. This has happened to our Select Board and others, who are in “denial”. They simply cannot believe that a Town Official would lie !
ONE NOTORIOUS AND MUCH-REPEATED EXAMPLE occurred just this week, on Monday March 6. This was at a meeting of the “St Marks Park Working Group”, You can watch it on YouTube if you wish. (Please will MySouthborough provide the link ?). Go to the very end of the recorded meeting. You will see me (David Parry) questioning the Chairperson of the Committee, asking for EVIDENCE TO BACK UP A STATEMENT the chairperson had just made. This claim, (which is FALSE), is that the project has ALREADY stopped flooding at the Library.
The questioning led to a remarkable scene. The Chair replied to me: “You have a right to ASK for evidence. But I have a right NOT to answer you”. And, of course, that is true. And it demonstrates clearly that there is NO TRUTH BEHIND THE CLAIM,
I repeated (to this chairperson, on recorded TV), what she had actually told me, when I had met with her on the site, outside the Library in January 2023. At that meeting, she told me that Galligan told her this (to paraphrase):
” Recently, when the contractor for the St Marks Rd Project was excavating, in preparation for laying drain pipes in the Library parking lot, the contractor dug down and saw water running over bedrock. It was a small, underground “stream”. The contractor fed this stream into a large pipe, and fed that pipe under Rt 85 (Marlborough Rd).”
I then asked the Chairperson, at the meeting of March 6 : “What evidence do you have, that Galligan was telling you the truth?”
The reply was: ” It was confirmed by the Library Director”.
So, to check that statement, the next day I spoke to the Library Director. Here is what the Director said (once again, paraphrasing):
“There is a mis-understanding here. I was present in about 2017 (7 years ago) when the contractor for the MAIN STREET RE-CONSTRUCTION PROJECT (not the St Marks Rd Project in 2022) was installing drains and catch basins in the Library parking lot, as part of the Main St project. When the contractor was excavating in the driveway, close to the Library side door, he found running water, and he fed that water into a new drain pipe, and connected that pipe to a drain under 85. But all of that was MANY YEARS BEFORE the St Marks Rd Project. It was done under the MAIN STREET PROJECT.”
So there you have it. The Main Street Re-Construction Project solved the flooding at the Library, seven years ago, at the cost of many millions of dollars. That project paid for all the catch basins in the Library parking lot, and also along Rt 85 outside the parking lot. For confirmation, you can speak to John Parent, the Town Facilities Manager. He told me the flooding was entirely solved by the Main Street Project, and it is not related in any way to the St Marks Rd Project. They are entirely separate projects.
SO THE FACTS ARE THESE — — THE ST MARKS ROAD PROJECT HAS NOT SOVED ANY FLOODING AT THE LIBRARY, AND IT WILL NOT DO SO IN FUTURE.