195WVN Newsletter #184: Fall TM environmental focus
- Sep 26, 2006Dear Wayland Voter,
The Nov. 9 special Town meeting will deal with relatively small
amounts of money and may have no effect on the current budget,
but it will confront several environment issues. Here is a preview.
Also in this newsletter: WayCAM open house.
TM ARTICLES A WORK IN PROGRESS
The Finance Committee's Sept. 18 hearing demonstrated that
many of the 12 proposed articles weren't ready for prime time.
Though one purpose of such hearings is to ensure that articles
are properly worded and clear, some proposals were covered in
multiple articles, some officials seemed to lack significant
information, and it wasn't always clear who sponsored what. The
Board of Selectmen must make final decisions next week. By the
time you receive your copy of the warrant in October you should
see something coherent, containing perhaps as few as seven
Here are the major issues:
ARTIFICIAL TURF. The Community Preservation Committee
submitted an article to ask voter approval of 30 percent of the
cost (to a maximum of $300,000) of artificial turf at the high
school football field. Private donations would pay the remainder.
The committee recommended using Community Preservation
Act funds (no immediate effect on taxpayers) though some
members had questioned its legality and appropriateness. A
similar proposal in Newton is the subject of a legal dispute, and
in Wayland some said that using preservation funds for a new
athletic surface would violate the spirit of the Town Meeting
article adopted by voters a few years ago.
The School Committee submitted another version of the article,
and Town administrator Fred Turkington emailed officials a third
version the Friday before the hearing. On Sept. 25 the selectmen
approved a version of the article that omits conditions set down
by the CPC. Sponsoring boards must vote again on final
The Wayland Boosters' proposal earlier this year sparked
controversy. The chairman of the CPC later refused
reappointment, accusing some selectmen of applying improper
and undue pressure. The idea has also been questioned on
environmental grounds because of potential runoff of toxic
leachates, rubber and plastic particles into the town water
supply, nearby wetlands and the Sudbury River. Artificial turf
could greatly increase field usage, attracting more cars,thus
increasing runoff containing salt and vehicle fluids.
PROTECTING LARGE PONDS
More than 20 residents turned out and several joined in spirited
discussion of three articles to protect Dudley and Heard ponds
and the North Pond section of Lake Cochituate from invasive
weeds. The three might be reduced to one article.
The Surface Water Quality Committee wants to seek long-term
solutions with $75,000 in Community Preservation Act funds.
The hope is that pond quality, once restored using the best
appropriate technology, can be maintained at little or no cost.
But in the meantime, committee Chairman Jackson Madnick
asserted, short-term action is urgently needed. Without
continued attention, he said, Dudley Pond will die, and at Heard
Pond four years of weed harvesting will have been wasted. The
matter is urgent because of rapid weed growth this year
during an unusually wet and warm period, Madnick said. In four
years the amount of weeds removed annually from Heard
dropped from 1.2 million pounds to 26,000. Harvesting in 2007
might make the problem manageable at almost no cost after
that, proponents said.
A separate article asks voters for $51,000 in funds from the
operating budget for work next summer, the only time when
Eurasian milfoil at Dudley Pond and water chestnut at Heard can
be attacked effectively.
Discussion produced a worst-case scenario if voters reject
short-term action: Dudley Pond will deteriorate to the point
where most organisms die. Property values along the shore
(estimated to total more than $60 million) will plummet. Property
owners will suffer huge losses and, though they might pay lower
taxes, the rest of the town will pay more to keep the tax base
stable. If the pond dies, it can be revived only by dredging costing
millions of dollars.
Proponents say the money must be approved in November to
ensure that contractors can be hired before they are fully booked.
The demand for weed removal at the state's hundreds of lakes
and ponds outstrips the capacity of a handful of contractors.
The contractors wouldn't necessarily have to be paid until next
August, proponents say. The FinCom would take a dim view of
any article calling for a change in the current operating budget.
PELHAM ISLAND FLOODING
The road commissioners submitted two proposed articles, and
another came from a petitioner. (Any resident can submit a
special Town meeting article by gathering 100 certified
signatures. Unlike articles submitted by town boards, a
petitioner's article can't be withheld from the voters by the
selectmen.) The commissioners and the petitioner generally
agree on the need to commission a preliminary engineering
study on how to deal with the virtually annual spring flooding
near both ends of the road. One final article will probably emerge
from discussions and would face Finance Committee
The article from petitioner Gary Slep asks for $15,000 for the
feasibility study. He told the FinCom that this could prepare the
town for decisions as early as the 2007 annual Town Meeting.
Slep said the town has spent about $200,000 in the past decade
to deal with the flooding.
National Guard vehicles that for years ferried the 200 stranded
residents to the town center are no longer available. But it's not
simply a matter of the health, safety and convenience of the
residents, he said. He offered another worst-case scenario: The
scheduled replacement of the Pelham Island Road bridge has
been delayed for at least a year, possibly longer. At some point
the bridge could be condemned. This could come while work is
beginning on the town center project on Route 20. Pelham
Island Road would be unavailable for diverted traffic at a critical
NIKE SITE RESTRICTION
This is one reason the selectmen offered for a fall meeting
(another was the turf proposal enthusiastically backed by some).
It costs nothing and is relatively simple. The town wants to build
affordable housing totaling 37 bedrooms on a 13-acre parcel in
north Wayland once occupied by a military missile site. Officials
discovered that the increased nitrogen from septic systems
wouldn't be allowed under environmental restrictions unless
development is forbidden somewhere else. Therefore the article
asks voters to place a restrictive covenant on town-owned land
near the Campbell Road town well. The water commissioners,
who control the land, have endorsed the covenant. Because of
its location, the land probably couldn't be developed in any case.
One article would amend prior Town meeting action to allow
some flexibility in designing a handicapped-accessible trail near
the former Nike site.
Another would extend the date to complete deals to buy land on
Brackett Road and Nob Hill Road.
Another would allow members of adjudicatory boards to miss
one session of hearings. A member who missed one meeting
could catch up by watching or listening to a tape of the
proceedings. This could be specially useful to the zoning board
and to those whose hearings before the board are delayed
now because of an unexpected and unavoidable absence.
2007 ANNUAL TOWN MEETING
As recommended by a special study committee, Wayland will
experiment with annual Town meeting on Sunday.
Selectmen voted to hold the meeting from 1-6 p.m. on April 29,
The Town Meeting Study Committee created last year
recommended Sunday as a way of making it easier for parents
and seniors to attend. Some Massachusetts towns meet on
Saturday, but the committee felt (and the selectmen agreed) that
Sunday afternoon presents fewer religious obstacles and no
more conflicts that the alternative.
If business is unfinished on Sunday, the meeting will continue
on April 30, May 2 and other days after that as necessary.
The annual town election is scheduled for April 24.
-- Michael Short
TV OPEN HOUSE
WayCAM, Wayland's local cable channel, will hold a 21st
anniversary open house from 6:45-9:30 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 5.
The studio is in the High School administration building. The
open house will include live taping at the High School
Commons. Cake and ice cream will be served.
It's a chance for residents to operate cameras, microphones and
other equipment and see themselves on camera.
Volunteers at Wayland Community Access Media Corp, cable
channel 9, perform a valuable civic function by broadcasting
public meetings and local programming. WayCAM also serves
an educational function, training young people in TV technology.
Further information: Betsy Moyer, 508-358-2939 or email
The studio is handicap-accessible through the east door of the
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor