WVN # 116- UPCOMING TOWN MEETING, ETHICS COMPLAINT
- Dear Wayland Voter,
Though Wayland officials are planning for an overflow Special
Town Meeting beginning Nov. 1, we've been hearing talk around
town that the issue of the proposed Town Center project is so
clear that the vote is a foregone conclusion. That assumption
could be a mistake.
On one hand, proponents sometimes say something like, "Why
would anybody vote against this, the only chance we're likely to
get for many years to bring things we'd like to that land? A small
minority is trying to thwart the majority."
On the other hand, opponents are saying something like, "This
project as presented is dead. Two important boards are against
it. Why would anybody vote for a rushed, flawed scheme with so
many unknowns and loopholes?"
We mention this neighborhood chatter as a reminder that it is
important to attend Special Town Meeting Nov. 1 and 2. The
zoning bylaw changes that would allow the project to proceed
require a two-thirds vote, and will be taken up after the cell tower
articles. Plan to come early. Doors open at 6 p.m. Car pooling is
encouraged. Satellite parking and bus service are available from
the Middle School, Sandy Burr and St. Ann's Church. Additional
seating is available at Little Theater and Cafeteria if the High
School Field House reaches capacity.
The week in summary:
SELECTMAN ACCUSED OF TOWN CENTER CONFLICT OF
Selectman Bill Whitney is named in a complaint filed with the
Commission involving his negotiating with the developers of the
Town Center project while his company was involved with one of
the project's developers on a New Hampshire deal. Whitney
denies any conflict of interest but acknowledges that he failed to
file a disclosure form as other Wayland officials have on other
matters. See story below by Michael Short.
FINANCE COMMITTEE LOOKS FOR DETAILS ON PROJECT:
NET GAIN OR LOSS?
Finance Committee and Planning Board meetings highlighted
the many financial unknowns about the proposed
450,000-square-foot commercial/residential development at the
former Raytheon property on Route 20, partly because the
developers haven't provided enough specifics. What happens to
Wayland tax revenues before the project is completed years from
now? Will the town net $445,000 annually by 2012 or will added
town expenses or project-related expenses eat up the surplus?
And the Waste Water Commission slams the development
agreement signed by the selectmen. Story below by Molly Upton.
SCHOOL COMMITTEE BUDGET FORUM, MEETINGS NOW
The School Committee held a budget hearing to kick off its FY07
budget process (this will be covered in next week's WVN
newsletter) and a subsequent meeting which is reported below.
Waycam recorded both and will broadcast the meeting tonight
and Sunday (10/21 and 10/23) and next Friday and Sunday
(10/28 and 10/30). The hearing will be broadcast on 10/26 and
11/2. Reports at the meeting indicated a continued drop in the
school population and an interestingly large response to the
high school survey. Report below by Tom Sciacca.
FINANCE COMMITTEE REPORT
CELL TOWERS. The FinCom heard public comments regarding
the location of cell phone towers outside the overlay district, a
controversial article on the Special Town Meeting warrant.
Comments focused largely on potential additional litigation as
well as reduced assessments in the area. FinCom noted that
reduced assessments in one area would not impact the town's
revenues. The implication was that other areas would make up
for the reduced revenues that might occur in the Reeves Hill
area. One attendee asserted that placing a cell tower outside of
the district would crack open the bylaw and leave the town facing
more requests for cell towers outside of the district.
TOWN CENTER. Blair Davies of the Waste Water Management
District Commission, who told selectmen earlier, "We do not
support the development agreement," had a lengthy dialogue
with FinCom regarding costs, benefits, and risks of a new,
expanded treatment plant vs. a new plant of the same capacity at
the 57-acre site. Developer Frank Dougherty said he has quotes
of less than $3 million for an expanded plant. Davies pointed out
those quotes would be for the existing method of discharge. He
said the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
could require the effluent to be piped to a leaching field in
another part of town, which would escalate costs beyond the $3
million cap offered by the developer. The enabling legislation for
the plant was to protect drinking water, he said. The site is a
recharging area for town wells.
He also noted that the WWDMC is responsible for decisions at
the plant, whereas the development agreement seems to
confuse the issue. Dougherty agreed his group needs a
separate agreement with WWDMC. An expanded plant could
enable more growth in that area, Davies added. A 40B housing
project is planned for adjacent land in addition to the 120 units
planned by Dougherty's group.
Bob Lentz of FinCom termed the wastewater issue "noise" that
won't impact the town's bottom line because it is managed by an
enterprise fund. Davies noted this is true, unless the WWMDC
reverts to the Board of Health. In addition, the existing users,
which include the town, would be forced to pay large fees for an
expanded plant, he noted. Dougherty explained the developer
can build the proposed project with the existing plant capacity,
but is willing to pay up to $3 million for a new expanded plant that
would enable more restaurants, which yield larger revenue. The
developers would pay 60 percent of costs above $3 million.
FinCom indicated that it has been receiving comments from
town departments regarding the fiscal impact of the proposed
redevelopment of the Wayland Business Center, but shared no
A resident told the FinCom that to fairly estimate the real net tax
revenue from the project, one should take that number
($445,774) and subtract from it the recent net tax revenues. This
would leave a net gain of considerably less, he said.
Another attendee wondered why the town would go through this
"headache" and effort when the revenue at stake is less than 1
percent of the town's budget.
A person endorsing the project said she assumed the
developers would provide a "New England" atmosphere and that
she has friends who are not moving to Wayland because it lacks
a town center.
The developer passed out a flyer touting "Wayland Town Center
Project Financial Benefits" totaling $14.15 million. The
developers' website (www.towncenteryes.com)
and a newspaper ad tout this as "developer-funded extras for the
town." However, even the $3.03 million "lump sum contribution"
(referred to as a "gift" in the developer agreement) to the town
will likely be consumed by project-related costs such as
constructing sidewalks to the property from the existing town
center, periodic traffic monitoring, and any improvements
needed on neighborhood streets.
The flyer also lists a $3 million value for the municipal building
pad. (When an acre sells for $500,000, how can a
20,000-square-foot parcel be worth $3 million?) There's more.
To see the full analysis, go to
This writer thinks the town's general fund will be lucky to see
anything beyond the $250,000 allocation for a bike path.
PLANNING BOARD. At the board meeting, FinCom member Karl
Geiger said he may ask fiscal consultant Judi Barrett -- the
source of the $445,000 estimate of annual tax revenue -- if she
needs to revise her figures, and whether she used fully loaded
school costs/pupil. He said her assumptions were that the
affordable housing units would yield .6 children per unit and the
market rate units .32 children per unit. Planning Board members
also wondered whether her estimates had considered what the
triggers are for a new school.
Geiger said it's almost impossible to figure the tax revenues
from the property because there is no timetable and the
sequencing of building is unknown.
Chairman Larry Stabile reiterated that the Planning Board does
not support passage of the zoning bylaw, adding the developer
agreement and bylaw were not developed in tandem, and there
are many things missing in the developer agreement that open
the town to risk. In addition, the board doesn't have confidence
the special permit aspects would "allow us to reject or improve
whatever we wanted." (The elephant in this room was the
prospect of legal action arising from non-specifics in the
Geiger asked the Planning Board if it had in mind what
percentage of housing, retail, and office space it would like to
see if it were starting from scratch.
He also asked how the project compares to the town's master
plan adopted last year, what are the options if the bylaw fails,
and if the planners foresee the need to add employees to handle
the additional workload imposed by the development.
AD HOC BUDGET COMMITTEE. The ad hoc committee solicited
public comments for cutting town expenses. Suggestions
included reducing costs and raising revenues at the landfill;
avoiding litigation with town employees through better
communication between boards and employees; examining the
cost effectiveness of town counsel; asking FinCom to review
legal expenses; urging the School Committee to adhere to the 8
percent budget reduction request; ensuring that the Children's
Way day care center at the Town Building is paying its full share;
investigate a new phone system; suggestion box for employees
(done) and reward (under consideration).
The FinCom indicated plans for a Department of Public Works
are on a fast track. The idea of a DPW has been percolating for
some time. It would consolidate the activities at the highway
garage (highway and park and rec) as well as those at the
School Superintendent Gary Burton said the schools have turned
down their thermostats to 68 degrees and some buildings have
motion detectors for lights within buildings and he'll look at
similar cost cutting for outside lighting. Chairman Chris Riley
said one possibility is to turn off some streetlights or investigate
bulb replacement. Currently the town spends $125,000 annually
on streetlights. He said the Police Department daily advises
officers of gas stations offering the lowest prices.
The FinCom is looking for any and every suggestion to cut costs.
Email the FinCom through Town Administrator Fred Turkington
A complaint has been filed with the Massachusetts Ethics
Commission accusing Selectman Bill Whitney of a conflict of
interest when he negotiated an agreement with the developers
of the proposed Town Center retail/residential development.
The three-page complaint is accompanied by copies of real
estate dealings totaling 26 pages.
According to the complaint, at the time Whitney was the
selectmen's negotiator, Whitney's boss was dealing with one or
more of the Wayland developers on commercial property in
Whitney is a vice president of The Druker Company, a major
Boston-based real estate developer. One of the companies
involved in the Wayland proposal is KGI Properties.
"It has come to my attention that while Mr. Whitney was
participating in this town matter involving KGI interests, Druker
corporate entities were engaged in business transactions with
KGI corporate entities," says the complaint, which was filed by
Wayland resident Gerald E. McGonagle on Oct.17.
The Ethics Commission doesn't necessarily investigate every
complaint received. Investigations often take considerable time
and can result in penalties including fines.
According to the Wayland town clerk's office, Whitney never filed
a notice disclosing transactions between Druker entities and
KGI entities. Public officials routinely file such declarations to
avoid being accused later of hiding a possible conflict of interest.
Wayland Select Chairman Michael Tichnor and Planning Board
member Lynne Dunbrack, for example, recently filed such
declarations on other matters.
Whitney told the Wayland Town Crier that he had made the New
Hampshire land deal known in May and had been assured by
Town Counsel Mark Lanza that there was no appearance of
conflict of interest. Whitney said he was not involved in the New
No evidence has been produced so far that Whitney disclosed
the Druker-KGI business. Whitney said he was unaware that the
law requires him to file written notice of a possible conflict.
The connection alleged between Druker and KGI involves other
corporate entities, such as TDC Holding Çorporation and
Druker Management Corporation, all with the same Boston
address. The Druker Company and other entities are controlled
by Ronald M. Druker.
Supporting real estate records include the names of two
developers of the Wayland project, Dean Stratouly and Charles
Irving, as well as Irving's signature.
Irving and Stratouly signed the development agreement that
Wayland Selectmen agreed to earlier this month.
The ethics complaint doesn't accuse Whitney of being involved in
the New Hampshire transactions, but asserts that he might hold
a position in a corporate entity other than the Druker Company
and that as vice president of a corporation with relatively few
employees he was likely to know what other Druker corporate
entities were doing.
Tichnor issued a statement attacking the complaint as
"mean-spirited" and defending Whitney, but offering no
McGonagle wouldn't discuss his complaint further.
SCHOOL COMMITTEE OCTOBER 17
This regular meeting of the School Committee was held after the
public budget hearing, but the Waycam tape will be broadcast
first this and next Friday and Sunday nights (10/21, 10/23, 10/28
& 10/30) at 7pm. The budget hearing will be broadcast on 10/26
& 11/2 at 7pm, and will be the subject of the next WVN
STUDENT ACTIVITY FEES- High School Principal Charlie Ruopp
objects in general to student activity fees, which help offset the
stipends for advisors to after-school and optional activities. But
when the School Committee imposed those $50 fees they failed
to make an exception for community service clubs, and students
strongly objected to having to pay to do good things for other
people. Ruopp asked the Committee at least to fix that problem,
and the Committee admitted its gaffe by unanimously voting to
exempt such clubs at all levels.
BUDGET BOOK LAYOUT- Business Manager Joy Buhler
reported that the layout of the budget book, mailed to all
households before Annual Town Meeting, has been the same
for 35 years. She said she would like to send out something
less cumbersome and put details on the website rather than
spend money printing a mass of details that most people
probably never read. She has examples of alternative formats
from other towns. Chair Jeff Dieffenbach and member Barbara
Fletcher agreed to serve on a subcommittee to work with Buhler
and come up with a new format.
ENROLLMENT- Total system enrollment this year is 2916, eight
fewer than last year and 11 fewer than projections. The high
school has 912 students, 15 more than last year, which brings it
to the same student count as in 1983-84. There are 132 Metco
students, including (for the first time) one kindergarten child. The
population next year is projected to drop by another 45, based on
declining birth rates. The high school population next year is now
projected to be 922. Previous estimates used to justify the failed
proposal for a new high school were that the population would
grow to over 1000 by 2007.
The complete enrollment report is posted on the School
Committee website, at
Member Louis Jurist suggested that, based on the new
enrollment data, some classes could be combined next year
without any classes becoming excessively large. Superintendent
Gary Burton agreed.
SUPERINTENDENT'S GOALS- Burton presented the final
version of his goals statement for this school year to the
committee. Burton commented "I'll be held accountable for
them." It is posted at
Member Heather Pineault responded "thank you for making it
more concrete and measurable" as she had requested
HIGH SCHOOL SURVEY- Dieffenbach reported that about 2000
responses had been received to the survey sent out to explore
the reasons for the failure of the new high school proposal, and
that another month or two would be needed to compile the
When High School Building Committee chair Lea Anderson and
member Dianne Bladon met with the committee earlier in the
year they voiced an expectation of far fewer responses (400 to, at
most, 800), based on general experience with response rates
for surveys. (See WVN #95) There were no control mechanisms
in place to prevent multiple responses or organized efforts by
particular groups to respond in unusually high numbers.
WVN HARD-COPY NEWSLETTER DELIVERIES- We are
astonished and gratified at the success of our program to enlist
our email readers to network with their offline neighbors by
printing and delivering copies of our newsletters. Some people
are using US mail to send fellow townsfolk their copies, while
many more are hand-carrying them. As a result, hundreds of
mostly older technology-challenged folks are now reading these
reports. But there are still a few pockets of WVN-deprived
Waylanders, and we would like to highlight three: Sycamore
Road, Main Street near King Street, and the Morrill Drive/Maguire
Road area. If any email readers live in or regularly pass those
neighborhoods and would like to reach out to their fellow voters
with the gift of information, please contact us by replying to this
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Margo Melnicove and Michael Short, Editors