WVN Newsletter #194: Another turf obstacle
- Dear Wayland Voter,
Two groups of Wayland residents are now challenging plans to
install artificial turf at the high school, but they say they have no
objection to synthetic turf in itself. One group wants to protect the
town water supply. The other believes it is illegal to use
preservation funds. Michael Short reports.
Also: Two town center matters and a FinCom appointment that
APPEAL VOIDS CONCOM TURF OK
When the Wayland Conservation Commission provisionally
approved replacing grass with artificial turf at the high school
football field, one requirement was favorable action from the
state Department of Environmental Protection before the project
could start. Now a group of Wayland residents has appealed
and thus voided the ConCom action. The DEP must hear
technical arguments from all sides, and work can't proceed until
it issues a new order of conditions.
Tom Sciacca, a former conservation commissioner and the
group's representative before the DEP, said the purpose isn't to
stop the project but to require additional protections for the
town's water supply. As planned, the project would allow
potentially hazardous materials to leach into the nearby Happy
Hollow wells, which supply about 40 percent of the town's water.
"The Conservation Commission, contrary to what most people
seem to think, did not actually approve this project as proposed,"
Sciacca said in a news release, "but established a number of
significant conditions to be met." The appeal seeks additional
The appeal is an administrative process, not a lawsuit.
The 11 residents who filed the appeal live in various parts of
town, Sciacca said, and share a concern for the water supply. In
addition to dealing with runoff from the field, the group seeks
controls over salt and petroleum from cars and buses parked
near the wells.
The group maintains that Gale Associates, the turf consultant
hired by the Wayland Boosters, performed inadequate and
unrealistic tests for toxic leachates.
"Even under those conditions, Gale's tests showed chromium
and other potentially toxic heavy metals," Sciacca said. One
member of the ConCom had also criticized Gale's performance.
The ConCom's provisional approval forbids the use of 40,000
ground-up truck tires unless the DEP finds it a beneficial use of
solid waste, or else rules that the use is exempt from regulation.
The appeal group says virgin rubber would be a safer alternative.
Sciacca, an MIT-trained engineer, writes on school matters for
WVN. He is also one of the plaintiffs in the Superior Court suit
challenging the use of preservation funds for the project.
TURF SUIT DRAWS ATTENTION
The lawsuit challenging Wayland's decision to use Community
Preservation Act funds for artificial turf at the high school football
field is attracting wider notice.
The MetroWest Daily News, which serves 30 suburban
communities, predicts that the suit will be "closely watched."
"...since no state body rules on local actions, it's no surprise
some CPA controversies are finding their way into the courts,"
the Daily News said in a Nov. 29 editorial that went on to oppose
this use of CPA funds.
"Providing high school football teams with fields worthy of the
NFL has become a big business, and most suburban boosters
want to outfit their team with nothing but the best," the editorial
said. "That's fine, but they shouldn't raid the CPA for it.
"Voters agreed to raise their taxes, and the state Legislature to
match those funds, on the understanding that it would be used
for historic preservation, affordable housing, open space
protection and the acquisition and development of new
recreation facilities. Spending CPA money on school sports
violates that understanding and shortchanges the purposes for
which this law was intended.
"We think (the plaintiffs) have a case...When the CPA is used as
a backdoor means of funding projects outside its mission, it
becomes just another pot of money subject to raids by whatever
local interests can pack Town Meeting." (The Town Meeting vote
Jerry Heller, chairman of the Wayland Community Preservation
Committee, responded to the editorial with a letter arguing that,
because the present field surface is being destroyed by overuse,
CPA funds can legally be used. "About 19 towns have expended
funds for preservation of their athletic fields..." he wrote. (Two
members of the committee voted against using CPA funds,
citing a legal opinion from the state.)
The suit contends that no new recreational land is being
acquired or preserved but merely resurfaced.
The News' sister newspaper, the Wayland Town Crier, has
published several letters disparaging Wayland residents who
expressed reservations about the project on either legal or
environmental grounds. Letters in the Nov. 30 Crier called some
residents "absurdly self-aggrandizing" and accused them of
"continuing mean-spiritedness." The writers described the
complaint as "the most frivolous of lawsuits" and criticized the
plaintiffs for forcing the town to defend itself against the action.
Wayland voters have become familiar with personal attacks
upon the losing side in recent local political decisions. The
selectmen responded to the suit by accusing the plaintiffs of
thwarting "the will of the citizens of Wayland."
Thirteen Wayland taxpayers filed the suit a few days after the
Nov. 9 special Town Meeting voted to use up to $300,000 in CPA
funds to augment an anticipated $700,000 in private donations.
SELECTMEN QUIETLY REPLACE FINCOM MEMBER
The Finance Committee is one of the most prominent of
Wayland's appointed bodies, wielding great influence by
overseeing the budget, holding Town Meeting warrant hearings
and recommending positions to voters. Traditionally it has been
considered, along with other boards and committees, a source
of expertise and independent judgment.
You might think that when a FinCom vacancy occurs the
selectmen would publicize it widely and screen candidates and
their qualifications thoroughly. Recall that when a number of
town appointments were available earlier this year, WVN, the
local newspapers and other news sources publicized the
vacancies as requested by the town government. Many citizens
responded. That's not the way it happened this week.
The vacancy, created by the resignation of Charlie D'Ambrosio,
was posted at the Town Building as required but wasn't
generally known. Unless WVN missed something, there was
nothing about it from the selectmen or town administrator, and
no notice in any news source.
The sole candidate, Steve Correia of Glezen Lane, said he had
expressed interest last year and was recently approached by
FinCom member Chris Riley about the D'Ambrosio vacancy. In
his resume he described himself as "a senior manager with
broad-based experience in cross-functional teaming, solution
selling, information systems implementation, risk management
and accounting, including 15 years of fast-paced involvement
with multiple Global 500 multinational high technology
corporations." He has degrees in business from the University of
Southern New Hampshire and Suffolk University. The selectmen
interviewed Correia briefly on Dec. 4 and then appointed him.
Correia appears qualified for the post. But many experienced
managers would consider the way the selectmen handled this
personnel matter unacceptable in almost any private corporation
-- Michael Short
TOWN CENTER TRAFFIC MEETING
Wednesday Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m., Large Hearing Room, Town
Building. The selectmen, road commissioners and Planning
Board will meet with the town center developers, Twenty
Wayland, to discuss dealing with traffic created by the proposed
PUBLIC COMMENT ON TOWN CENTER IMPACT
Residents have until Jan. 5 to submit written comments on
developers' proposals to the state for dealing with the
environmental impact of the planned $100-million town center
project on Route 20.
The just-issued Wayland Town Center Draft Environmental
Impact Report (DEIR) is a voluminous document from Twenty
Wayland LLC responding to state environmental requirements.
An environmental agency hearing in Wayland last summer
gathered information and comment about the 57-acre site near
town wells, wetlands and the Sudbury River.
After the public comment period, a final environmental impact
report will be issued and the state will then decide whether the
plan meets Massachusetts environmental standards.
Copies of the report are available from Corinne Snowdon,
Epsilon Associates, (978)-897-7100. A copy is at the Wayland
Library and it is available online at
Comments should be sent to: Secretary of Environmental Affairs,
MEPA Office, Attn: Holly Johnson, 100 Cambridge Street, Suite
900, Boston, MA 02114.
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor