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WVN Newsletter #184: Fall TM environmental focus

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  • waylandvoters1
    Dear 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
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 26, 2006
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      Dear 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.


      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.


      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.


      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


      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.


      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


      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
      administration building.
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      Wayland Voters Network
      Michael Short, Editor
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