[Ed note: My Southborough accepts signed letters to the editor submitted by Southborough residents. Letters may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
To the Editor:
FIVE REASONS TO VOTE “NO” ON ARTICLE 12 (ST MARKS LAND SWAP / ROAD CLOSURE) AND “NO” ON ARTICLE 13 (PARK).
LET’S KEEP OUR HISTORIC RD OPEN. ST MARKS CAN BUILD THEIR OWN PARKING LOT, ON THEIR LAND, WITHOUT TOWN FUNDS.
VOTE TO REJECT WASTEFUL SPENDING. “NO” TO UNECESSARY PROJECTS SERVING INTERESTS OF WEALTHY PRIVATE SCHOOL.
1. THE LACK OF A LEGITIMATE PUBLIC PURPOSE. The Town Is being asked to abandon a perfectly good, functioning road, called St Marks Rd. It is the oldest historic road in town, built over an Authentic Indian trail. Plus the Town is being asked to replace the abandoned road by PAYING FOR an expensive new road, 300 feet south — simply to create extra space for a new, PRIVATE parking lot for wealthy St Marks School. This is NOT a legitimate PUBLIC purpose, for which we should be spending our hard-earned tax dollars. St Marks School owns plenty of vacant land in the immediate vicinity, on which they can build their parking lot. It is called the TRIANGLE. In fact, before this project began, the vacant triangle had been continuously used by the School for parking, on grass, for decades. The triangle can continue to be used for parking, and converted from grass to gravel, at NO COST to the Town. Why don’t we just let St Marks do the work themselves, just as they have always done?
2. JUST BECAUSE THE TOWN VOTES TO REJECT THIS PROJECT — DOES NOT MEAN THAT ST MARKS DESERVES ANY COMPENSATION — IN FACT, THE OPPOSITE IS TRUE — There are two reasons for this. (A) Because St Marks has been fully aware, from day one, that the chances of success were bad, and also (B) because St Marks will benefit enormously, even if the Project is not completed, because of the expensive work which the Town has already completed in Phase ONE. Here is more detail on A and B.
2. A. ST MARKS HAS KNOWN THAT THE MATHEMATICAL ODDS OF APPROVAL ARE POOR. From the start, in 2020, St Marks has been fully aware that the Project is subject to a vote at Town Meeting, and that the mathematical odds of St Marks winning that vote are very bad indeed, simply because the Project needs a 2/3 rds vote. ST MARKS HAS KNOWN ABOUT THIS PROBABLY OUTCOME, AND IS PREPARED.
2. B. ST MARKS WILL BENEFIT SUBSTANTIALLY, EVEN IF THE PROJECT IS VOTED DOWN. This is because two significant gifts have been already been given to St Marks, because they were included in Phase ONE … specifically these gifts are:
2. B. (i)._THE TOWN GIFT OF NEW GRAVEL FOR PARKING LOT. The tons of gravel which the Town paid for and delivered to the site, originally intended for the new road, can instead be used for St Marks parking lot.
2. B. (ii). THE TOWN GIFT OF NEW PIPED DRAINAGE — WHICH RELIEVES FLOODING AT THE ROAD INTERSECTION, AND IN ST MARKS TRIANGLE. St Marks CAUSED the flooding (see para 4 C below), but the Town paid to FIX the flooding — by DPW installing 12 inch drainage pipes under Rt 85. St Marks will be able to use these pipes to drain their future parking lot, because the pipes happen to be ideally located (by sheer luck) within the St Marks Triangle (see the map).
3. THE SCANDALS OF MANY CONFLICTS OF INTEREST BY AT LEAST THREE TOWN OFFICIALS. See the handout titled: “Five Offenses by Officials on the St Marks Rd Project.”
4. THE CORRUPTION OF UNJUSTIFED GIFTS TO ST MARKS SCHOOL. The former DPW Sup’t, (who resigned in 2022), was in charge of the Project. She was supervised by the Town Administrator, who mis-spent $290,000 of State grant funds on the Project (See para 6 below). The DPW Sup had a conflict of interest because she is an alumnus of St Marks School. She failed to recuse herself, and it now appears that she made several “gifts” to the direct benefit of St Marks. There are at least four such instances that have come to light:
4 A . THE GIFT OF USING AN ILLEGAL “LICENSE”, WHEN AN “EASEMENT” SHOULD HAVE BEEN USED INSTEAD, TO ENSURE TRANSPARENCY. The DPW Sup’t working with the Town Admin arranged for St Marks to be granted a LICENSE, when St Marks wanted to build a rock wall within the right-of-way of St Marks Road. The LICENSE WAS AN ILLEGAL WAY OF AVOIDING AN EASEMENT, which is the normal, legal method used, and is preferred because it ensures transparent votes at Town Meeting. (Note also, that the License contained several conditions, including one that required the wall to be MODIFIED IF THE WALL INTERFERED WITH THE FUNCTIONING OF THE ROAD. INDEED THIS SITUATION DID ARISE, WHEN FLOODING OCCURRED. but DPW FAILED TO ENFORCE THE CONDITION, with the result that St Marks did NOT have to FIX the road at their own expense, but instead were able to watch as the Town DPW paid for the fix . (Detail under item 4C below).
SO THE FREE GIFT HERE is the increased privacy and secrecy a License provides, to obscure the hidden gifts.
4 B. THE GIFT OF LAND THAT APPEARS TO BE OWNED BY ST MARKS. St Marks built the stone wall for the purpose of:
(1) Dressing up the front entrance to the School, and
(2) Making it appear that St Marks actually OWNS the land behind the wall. This would normally be the case, because it is a general rule that a wall forms a property boundary — You usually own all the land BEHIND the wall. Therefore, DPW SHOULD have required St Marks to actually PURCHASE THE LAND BEHIND THE WALL. But, instead, this argument was avoided, leaving most people to believe that St Marks owns all the land behind the wall. Only DPW and the TOWN ADMIN knew the TRUTH, until recently … that the land was really owned by the Town.
SO THE FREE GIFT HERE is the apparently “free” land behind the stone wall.
4 C. THE GIFT OF A FREE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM OF FLOODING — WHICH ST MARKS CAUSED BUT FAILED TO FIX. The new rock wall, situated at the highest point of land, was installed by St Marks and blocked the natural flow of rainwater, northwards, toward the small lakes on St Marks property west of 85….. St Marks should have been ORDERED BY DPW TO STOP THE FLOODING, which THEY HAD CREATED, for instance, by making holes at the bottom of the wall, so as to allow water to flow through the drain. But instead of making St Marks fix the problem which they had created, DPW spent about $100,000 of TOWN TAX MONEY, to install new drain-pipes under Rt 85, from Main St all the way up to the stone wall, which is at the intersection. These pipes have fixed the flooding, but only at high EXPENSE TO THE TOWN, not at the expense of the actual offender — which is St Marks.
SO THE FREE GIFT HERE is the zero % cost to St Marks, which should be paying 100 % of the cost of any fix to flooding.
4 D. THE MAIN AIM OF THE DPW SCHEME IS TO PROVIDE ST MARKS WITH A NEW, FREE PARKING LOT — TO BE BUILT OVER TOP OF AN EXISTING TOWN ROAD. The main aim of the Project is to place a new parking lot for St Marks over the existing roadway and intersection, requiring the existing road and intersection to be abandoned and then completely rebuilt, 300 feet to the south, AT A HUGE AND UN-NECESSARY COST TO THE TOWN. This Project is not necessary, for the obvious reason that the existing road and intersection work just fine the way they are. They do not need replacing. Only a coat of asphalt is needed to fix the potholes caused by the DELIBERATE LACK OF MAINTENANCE BY TOWN DPW — TO MAKE IT APPEAR WORSE THAT IT REALLY IS.
As noted above in para 4 C, the flooding at the intersection has been fixed by the new pipes under Rt 85. Note that the LIDS over the manholes are flat plate (which do not let water through), so they need to be replaced with proper CATCH-BASIN LIDS, which let water through.)
SO THE FREE GIFT HERE is the free parking lot for St Marks School, built at a huge cost to the Town, of over $1 million!
5. VOTERS SHOULD ASK — GIVEN ALL THE CHAOS — HOW DID PHASE ONE START ? AND WHERE DID THE FUNDING COME FROM ? Phase One started because tjhere was no oversight from Town Meeting, which did NOT approve the funds. Instead, the funds came from a State DOT grant of $290,000 which was specifically intended for a PARK AND SIDEWALK. But DPW and the Town Admin DID NOT USE THE $290K TO BUILD A PARK AND A SIDEWALK, as they were legally required to do. Instead, they broke the law by spending all $290k ILLEGALLY, ON PRIVATE LAND, AND THEY USED IT FOR THE PROPOSED ROAD AND PARKING LOT, which WERE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR FUNDING AND WERE (AND STILL ARE) NOT NEEDED BY THE TOWN. The State Inspector General (IG) as well as investigators from State DOT are still looking into this matter, which has not yet been resolved.
AT TOWN MEETING , MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT.
VOTE TO REJECT WASTEFUL SPENDING. SAY “NO” TO UNECESSARY PROJECTS WHICH SERVE MOSTLY PRIVATE INTERESTS.
Vote NO on Article 12: “NO” to Land Swap and Road Dis-continuance. (KEEP USING EXISTING St Marks Rd, repair the potholes and move on.)
Vote NO on Article 13: “NO” to a Park here. (Nobody asked for a park located in an UNSAFE location, near a busy highway. Build it elsewhere.)
Vote YES on LAST TWO ARTICLES which will be moved forward – IF – Articles 12 and 3 fail.
YES to CEASE ALL WORK ON THE PROJECT.
YES to FORENSIC INVESTIGATION BY THE STATE INSPECTOR GENERAL (IG)
We need to identify the cause of mis-management, who was responsible, and how it can be avoided in future.
22 Main Street