160WVN Newsletter #154: Important hearings, HS building plan
- Mar 27, 2006Dear Wayland voter,
This is a busy week, with several public hearings of interest to
citizens as well as committee meetings on the mixed-use zoning
and development agreement necessary for a Route 20
On Monday, March 27 the Board of Selectmen meets at 7 p.m. to
work on "final elements" of the agreement with developers to
build the mixed-use 373,000-square-foot
housing/commercial/municipal development on Route 20.
Tuesday March 28 at 7 p.m. the Finance Committee will hold a
public hearing at the senior center on articles at special Town
Meeting on May 3.
Also on Tuesday, the road commissioners will hold a public
hearing at 7:30 p.m. in the large hearing room about potential
changes to the intersection of West Plain/Rte 126 and other
mitigation efforts to counter the expected increased traffic from
the Danforth housing development in Framingham.
Commissioners welcome public participation.
On items for the special Town Meeting, the Planning Board has
posted meetings for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (if
needed) to finalize the bylaw for the mixed use development on
the former Raytheon site, review the developer agreement, and
work on the proposed scenic roads overlay district bylaw. Details
At 8 p.m. Tuesday, the selectmen meet again to approve the final
Meanwhile, the High School Building Committee is discussing
an ambitious plan for renovation or replacement. See below.
BACKGROUND ON ZONING TALKS
At yet another Sunday morning meeting, three members of the
Planning Board met with developers to discuss sign sizes for
the three largest commercial buildings in the proposed mixed
use overlay district.
Using pictures from other "lifestyle centers" and a local
supermarket, the board reached consensus with the developer
on sizes, and is expected to vote on the language to be included
in the zoning bylaw. The assumption is that these will be
separate buildings from the rest of the commercial space.
The board has scheduled meetings three nights this week to
meet the deadline for sending the Town Meeting warrant to the
printer, and it still needs to review and approve the final
document. Also on the docket is review of the developer
agreement, as well as changes to another article, a proposed
scenic road overlay district.
The plan is for the town to see one version of the bylaw in the
warrant. The selectmen submitted a "placeholder" article, fearing
that the Planning Board version wouldn't be acceptable to the
developers. Essentially, the text of the article will be that of the
Planning Board but the vehicle will be the placeholder article
inserted by the selectmen because town counsel has said that
any mention of signage dimension would be beyond the scope
of the the Planning Board version. The last-minute meetings
were necessitated by the developer's refusal to leave signage to
later discussions with the Planning Board.
BUILDING COMMITTEE HOPES FOR QUICK ACTION
The High School Building Committee has an aggressive plan for
renovating or rebuilding the aging buildings, beginning with
asking voters this fall for several hundred thousand dollars in
The plan is designed to take advantage of the state's new
reimbursement system which is slowly getting under way.
At a meeting on March 23, members talked about becoming the
"poster child" for the Massachusetts School Building Authority
(MSBA). When the state begins accepting applications for
funding on July 1, 2007, the committee wants to have its
documents in place. If Wayland survives the first cut and is
promptly invited to apply in Phase 2, voters could be asked as
early as the fall of 2007 to authorize borrowing millions for the
The timing depends partly on many unknowns involving the
In January 2005 Wayland resoundingly rejected the committee's
$57-million plan to replace most of the buildings. Prospects for
state reimbursement were hazy at best.
What's new is that the state made a decided break with the
former reimbursement system which ran up an $11-billion
liability and was suspended. Under the new system
administered by the state treasurer, the plan is for the state to
oversee school projects from the beginning and pay its share
as building goes on.
When voters are asked to approve town borrowing, they will
know that the state has guaranteed prompt reimbursement of a
specific amount, as much as 40 percent. Towns will have to
borrow only their share of the total cost.
Part of the state sales tax will be devoted to reimbursement,
which is scheduled to start at $500 million annually, enough for
only a few large projects every year. There are about 1800
schools in Massachusetts, many of them in need of repair or
The MSBA has already made a rough survey of the condition of
all schools. Wayland High School is listed at condition 3 on a
descending scale of 4, except for a 2 rating for the field house,
which puzzled the committee and school officials.
Superintendent Gary Burton said he would ask for another
inspection, since many observers believe the field house is in
worse shape than the rest of the campus.
In any case, before approving a project the MSBA will inspect
conditions again and also compare its own enrollment
projections with the town's.
The MSBA defines a 3 rating as "approaching poor condition and
some building systems may need attention." Committee
members who met with MSBA officials said they were assured
that a 3 rating is enough to warrant applying for a major project.
Burton said he would try to find out how many schools were
rated 4 ("may be in poor condition and a possible candidate for
replacement") and therefore needier candidates.
The MSBA is a new agency learning new things. How long it will
take to get things rolling remains to be seen. But the system
itself is designed to give voters a new degree of assurance.
What is not likely to be new in the immediate future is Wayland's
process. The School Committee wants to add four new
members to the 11 it originally appointed to the building
committee. If special Town Meeting voters approve on May 3, the
selectmen, Finance Committee and School Committee will
choos the new faces. No matter who they are, they will be a
small minority and would face an uphill battle to shift the HSBC's
Also unchanged are the architect (HMFH) and the construction
management firm (Turner). Representatives from both attended
the meeting last week.
It is too early to tell what the committee's design might look like.
But member Cindy Lombardo said it was likely to be a
scaled-down version of the failed 2005 plan.
That doesn't mean it would be cheap. Construction costs are
volatile, and estimators sometimes use inflation factors of 8
percent or more annually.
The School Committee has talked about giving the building
committee more flexibility than in the past to seek a "middle
concept" rather than a best-choice process. Under the new
reimbursement law a municipality can ask for approval of
projects in stages. Committee Chairwoman Lea Anderson noted
the hypothetical possibility of asking voters to fund academic
buildings and leaving a gymnasium and large auditorium to
private funding. The MSBA offers partial matching funds for
After July 1 the committee will be free of restrictions imposed by
special Town Meeting voters in January 2005 and can spend the
remaining $17,500 from the $355,000 allocated earlier for
planning and preliminary design.
The $50,000 article you'll find in the warrant for the May 3 special
Town Meeting is for short-term high school repairs.
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor