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WVN Newsletter #194: Another turf obstacle

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  • waylandvoters1
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 8, 2006
      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
      raises quesitons.


      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.


      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
      was 308-128.)

      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.

      ANALYSIS ;

      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
      or municipality.

      -- Michael Short


      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
      housing/shopping/office development.


      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
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