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Select Board Recommends Adoption of Articles Related to Capital Purchases, DPW

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The Select Board met yesterday with all members present to consider Special Town Meeting articles that were tabled pending a firm tally of the town’s free cash. Town Manager Richard Montuori also notified the board of some changes to articles, including open space.

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The free cash summary is as follows:

Special Town Meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. at Tewksbury Memorial High School. More detail is available in the Special Town Meeting supplemental handout and in the warrant.

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Article 2 authorizes capital purchases, including $176,942 to supplement previously allocated funds to buy 97 lockers for the police station at a total cost of $265,000. The price of the lockers has been a matter of discussion on social media and at the recent Finance Committee meeting. Montuori explained that TPD officers are using the original lockers from 1996 and that the replacement units being considered are widely used in other local departments. 

“They’re not just out of date,” said Montuori at FinCom of the current units. “They’re not the type of locker that police departments need to store various items that they have, from body armor to duty belts, uniforms, jackets, boots and firearms.”

The Select Board unanimously recommended adoption of Article 2.

Article 3 allocates an additional $3.3 million for the new DPW/school maintenance facility approved by voters in May.

“The base bid for the project came in within budget,” said Montuori. There were several alternate/add-on bids, including one that would enable 11 staff members to be housed together in the newer building rather than some remaining in the existing space, which is not slated for updates and lacks a fire sprinkler system. This expenditure would fund that addition. The current office space would be used to create a large, secure storage area for use by all town departments.

“With this option, all divisions — administration, engineering, fleet, forestry, highway, water and sewer — will be under one roof,” said Montuori. “We anticipate that implementing Alternate 1 would also result in savings for heating and electricity because the existing office space has outdated HVAC equipment, which is much less efficient than what would be installed in the new building.”

The Select Board voted unanimously to recommend approval of Article 3.

The board also unanimously supported Articles 4, 5 and 6.

In other changes, Montuori explained that some of the parcels that were slated to come under conservation control are being pulled, for now.

“There are three lots that the deeds are not clear, whether the town has clear title on them,” said Montuori. “We want to do more research before we bring them forward.”

The chairman of the Open Space and Recreation Commission has agreed to hold off on transferring lots on Melrose Ave. and Cynthia Rd. until the town has more clarity. The same issue applies to one lot in Article 17. The Select Board unanimously voted to support these changes.

Article 20, which would make significant revisions to the Conservation Commission Wetlands Protection bylaw, has also been pulled from the warrant pending more public outreach.

Finally, member Jayne Wellman asked about Terramor Drive. 

“I’ve spoken to a resident and wondered if we’ve heard more from the residents of the HOA that they understand what this article is about?” said Wellman.

She was referring to Article 22, a citizen petition in which the subdivision developer, Matt Ginsburg, will ask voters to accept Terramor Drive as a public way, meaning the town will take on responsibility for most maintenance and upkeep.

“The subdivision is a little bit unique in that the drainage is going to be owned by a homeowner’s association, and the homeowner’s association is also going to own the open space for the subdivision,” Assistant Town Manager Steve Sadwick explained at a previous meeting. “The town accepts the road, yet the stormwater from the road becomes the responsibility of the homeowners.”

Montuori stated he would meet with the residents to hear their concerns with drainage, as some have had water in their homes, and offer clarification on what town’s responsibilities are versus the HOA. 

The Select Board will meet next on Oct. 3.

Lorna is a U.S. Army veteran and 25-year resident of Tewksbury who has written for organizations ranging from the DIA to InformationWeek to a free weekly in New London that sent her to interview the pastry chef at Foxwoods.

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