ATM debates and approves completing St. Mark’s Street and Park

Above: After Select Board members presented the controversial history of the park project and plans for moving forward, Southborough voters queued up to support, oppose, or ask questions about Article 12. (images edited from Town video)

As I noted in my middle-of-the-night post over the weekend, Saturday’s Annual Town Meeting was a long one. There were way too many highlights for me to cover them all.

Fortunately, I can point to the Community Advocate’s coverage for some of the discussion points. One of their stories was on the vote to move ahead with the St. Mark’s Park project. While they captured broad strokes, there are additional details worth adding.

Planning Board Chair Meme Luttrell explained to the hall that her board’s not-support vote wasn’t in opposition to the overall project but to the specific Article including the discontinuance of a section of the road and unclear details on conveyance of Town land. (You can read more about the concerns laid out in their report here.)

Select Board Chair Kathy Cook assured that her board would work through the issues with Planning if the Article passed. 

The Article 12 vote was split by Moderator Paul Cimino into three motions. The first two related to the land swap with St. Mark’s School. 

Karen Shimkus was one of the voters who opposed both the project and the Article. Among her objections was the legality of swapping land without appraising the values. Upon request, Town Counsel Jay Talerman explained that it would be legally handled as two transactions, rather than a swap. He stated that the Inspector General’s office was satisfied with Town’s planned procedure. Shimkus rebutted that without knowing the values, the Town still risked leaving money on the table.

As the CA notes, there were more comments in support than against, and the swap motions passed.

Next, Planning Board member Jesse Stein moved to strike the third motion, discontinuance of the road. He argued that the Town should resolve details and bring back to a future meeting. Talerman argued that the legal requirements had been met.

Cook objected to the amendment, cautioning that would result in a year delay on finishing the project. Planning’s amendment failed and the third motion passed.

Read more debate highlights from the CA’s coverage here.

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