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WVN #263: Town Center pollution, traffic complications

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  • waylandvoters1
    Dear Wayland Voter, This newsletter brings you up to date on several aspects of the complicated process of building the Town Center commercial-residential
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 2008
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      Dear Wayland Voter,

      This newsletter brings you up to date on several aspects of the complicated process of building the Town Center commercial-residential development on Route 20.

      Stop & Shop plans to build the anchor store, a 45,000-square-foot supermarket. The developer envisions an upscale shopping center for a "wealthy market." The targeted opening date is now likely to be in 2010 rather than
      2009.

      One of the selling points when voters were asked to approve the $140-million project was land for a municipal building. New developments complicate that prospect.

      Traffic problems associated with the Town Center continue to generate controversy. And pollution concerns are now under scrutiny.

      Also in this newsletter: Is full-day kindergarten in Wayland's future?

      GOOD NEWS DEPARTMENT

      Salt Prices

      Salt to spread on winter roads will cost many communities $70 to $90 a ton next winter, but Wayland paid only  $53.

      With a new salt shed that holds 3,500 tons, Wayland Highway Director Stephen Kadlik bought a large supply last spring and summer. 

      The MetroWest Daily News reported that high fuel prices have helped to drive up the current price of salt by 30 percent or more. Marlborough, for example, hopes to make deals for $70 to $80 per ton. 

      Assessment Tool

      The Board of Assessors has posted a new online resource for gathering assessment information. The Assessor Atlas Map Key is available at:

      http://www.wayland.ma.us/surveying/Website/Assessor%20Key.html

      WayCAM OPEN HOUSE

      Oct. 2. WayCAM, Wayland's local public access television station, will hold its annual meeting and Open House at its studio at the High School. Meeting: 6:30-7 p.m, followed by open house until 9, concurrent with   Back to
      School Night.  There will be an opportunity to try your hand at using studio cameras and to be interviewed live at the High school Commons.  Light refreshments. Details: Betsy Moyer 358-2939.

      CANDIDATES NIGHT

      State Rep. Tom Conroy (D-Wayland) and his Republican challenger, former Rep. Susan Pope, will appear at the League of Women Voters Candidate Night at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday Oct. 7 at the Town Building. The format  calls for
      questions from the audience and discussion between Pope and Conroy. At 9 p.m. the focus will shift to  ballot questions on  marijuana possession, dog racing and, most important, Question 1, which would eliminate the state
      income tax.

      TOWN CENTER ANCHOR

      Stop & Shop plans a 45,000-square-foot supermarket as the largest business in the Town Center project. It's billed as a "new fresh design...to cater to today's consumer." About 30 percent smaller than many Stop & Shop
      markets, it represents a trend toward  "leaner, more convenient" locations, says  a spokesman for Twenty Wayland, the Town Center developer.

      Stop & Shop will construct  its own building. The remainder of the retail/housing development on Route 20 will be built by Twenty Wayland, which says it will create a pedestrian-friendly small-town atmosphere.

      Developer's projections call for the the remaining commercial space -- more than 100,000 square feet -- to be be devoted to offices, specialty shops. restaurants and services. Twenty Wayland has talked about a pharmacy,  a
      bank branch, a  day spa/salon, an ice cream shop, a shoe store and an antiques store.

      Twenty Wayland marketing representatives provided additional details at a recent meeting of the Wayland Business Association, talking about a "boutique atmosphere" for  a "wealthy market."  

      They boasted of being close to deals for half of the space but didn't name potential retailers. A glossy brochure lists Wayand's average annual household income as $170,000.

      The representatives  said leases will be less expensive than at the Natick Collection, which developers  consider  complementary rather than competition. Interested retailers typically have one or two stores in the local area and
      four or five throughout New England, they said. 

      The presentation came as the U.S. Congress worked on a solution to the largest credit crisis in nearly 80 years and  Neiman-Marcus (which has a store in Natick) issued a gloomy prediction for its holiday shopping season.

      Twenty Wayland had projected opening in the fall of 2009, but representatives now say spring 2010 is more likely. 

      POLLUTION FINALLY CONSIDERED IN TOWN CENTER REVIEW

      When independent consultant Judi Barrett was asked to  estimate the fiscal impact of the proposed Town Center before the first Town Meeting vote to rezone the  property to allow mixed-use redevelopment, she was not told
      that  the site had significant soil and groundwater pollution.

      Barrett also was not told that the owner, Congress Group, had  won a sizeable tax abatement from the State Appellate Tax Board in September 2005 claiming the property's distance from a major  highway and a Raytheon
      environmental cleanup made it harder to find new tenants.

      Thus, by not including the cleanup by  the former tenant, and its  consequences, the consultant's estimates of costs and benefits  of the project were compromised.

      Since then, most reviews of the Town Center project by town committees have remained silent on the Raytheon pollution cleanup. Now, at last, in a Sept. 19 RFP (Request for Proposal/Peer Review)  the Wayland Conservation
      Commission asks for a study of theTown Center proposal which will consider results of the  Raytheon cleanup.

      Raytheon has been cleaning the site since the mid 1990s, taking soil  and groundwater samples, placing wells to monitor the constituents in groundwater, removing contaminated soils, removing two acres of wetland  near the
      Sudbury River and replanting vegetation, and injecting chemicals in several locations to clean the groundwater. Raytheon's data are public and there have been informative public  meetings held twice a year where Raytheon has
      explained and answered  questions.

      Since 2002, Wayland has employed its own consultant from CMG  Environmental, Inc., to represent the town's interest in the cleanup. Licensed Site Professional Ben Gould monitors the data and written  reports from Raytheon's
      consultants and submits written comments on the town's behalf. Raytheon responds to all comments, so  Wayland has remained informed about progress.

      In 2006, Wayland hired CMG to provide consulting  services to the boards during the permitting process for redeveloping  the property.

      What is missing is any coordination of information about the cleanup  with information about the plans for the Town Center.

      Raytheon's  Activity and Use Limitation (AUL) on the property prevents any construction unless the AUL is lifted.   The AUL could be lifted for the whole property, for part of the   property, or for certain activities on the property.
      This requires   negotiation between Raytheon and the Town Center developers, Twenty    Wayland. The town is not involved in this negotiation.

      Communications between Twenty Wayland/Congress Group and Raytheon   are private. The public is not aware of any plans the proponent may have presented to Raytheon for consideration.

      In the new request to hire a consultant the   Conservation Commission (ConCom) has asked that, in addition to the usual study of stormwater management and encroachment upon wetland   resources,  the consultant address
       concerns about "the interaction of stormwater infiltration with   existing groundwater contamination and its potential for negative   impacts on the drinking water supply."

      To do this, ConCom has required that the responding consultant study   not only the plans submitted by Twenty Wayland but also several documents relating to Raytheon's  environmental remediation.


      Aggressive schedule requires at least 3 months

      A thorough review of this large and complicated   project is likely to require at least three months even though the ConCom indicated it was willing to devote entire meetings to the matter. This could affect Twenty Wayland's
      projection of a fall 2009 opening.

      The RFP time outline suggests first a kickoff meeting with Wayland    conservation administrator Brian Monahan for an overview, then a review of the relevant materials including the Notices of Intent   (NOIs) from the developer,
      DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) documents, the Final Environmental Impact Report to the   state (a Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act document), written comments on these reports, and Raytheon
      remediation reports.

      The consultant then is requested to provide a letter identifying   deficiencies in the NOIs. It is estimated that once the consultant is hired, it would   take five weeks to get this far. At this point, the conservation   administrator,
      the consultant and a Twenty Wayland representative would meet to clarify issues of concern.

      This stage is anticipated   to take another four weeks.

      The consultant would then appear before ConCom with preliminary   findings and discuss next steps. Next, the consultant would prepare a draft final report for the Commission and discuss the draft at a   second ConCom
      meeting. One week after this second meeting, the final report would be delivered.

      This last stage, involving two ConCom   meetings, would take at least another month.

      MUNICIPAL PLOT NOT INCLUDED

      In the RFP it is noted that Twenty Wayland had indicated (to date   only orally) that land where the town could erect a municipal building at its own expense will be removed from the  current NOI. As of Sept. 18 no formal
      documentation of this had been received by ConCom.

      Since several questions about incursions into the 200-foot  protected riverfront area and the 30-foot undisturbed wetlands buffer concerned only this land, removal of it from the plans makes final   approval of the Town Center
      development by ConCom easier fo Twenty Wayland.

      If  removed from the current NOI, the municipal pad could later be considered separately. The   Development Agreement  signed by the Wayland Board of  Selectmen, Wayland town counsel and Twenty Wayland in March 2006
      allows for either ownership ("convey in fee simple") or a 99-year, one-dollar   ground lease.

      If the town owned the land,  satisfying state requirements for building in the riverfront area would become more problematical. This is because  permission to build depends on what percentage of the riverfront area
      intersecting the parcel is built upon. If the entire   Town Center is the parcel, the percentage is smaller. If only the   municipal pad is the parcel, the percentage is larger. Only up to  ten percent of the riverfront area within a
      parcel may be built upon.

      In addition, if the municipal pad is considered later in a separate   NOI, after the commercial and residential parts of the Town Center development have been approved and constructed,  there will be no way to change the
      location of the municipal building .

      (An exchange with some of the "town green" land to move   the building farther from the riverfront was discussed in an earlier ConCom meeting at which Frank Dougherty of Twenty Wayland participated.)

      Removing the municipal pad from the NOI could be bad news for the town. Wayland might have to pay  its own expenses in seeking building permits. And in this environmentally sensitive area it might not be possible to get a
       permit for the  70,000-square-foot  plot.

      -- Betty Salzberg

      HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMISSION ASSERTS JURISDICTION

      Though residents'  opinions varied about the Town Center   commercial/residential development, everybody agreed that traffic   would be a crucial concern.

      Residents of the Glezen Lane area sued the town and agreed to a   settlement promising  traffic mitigation. Residents of Bow Road   decided not to sue and are still are still pleading with the Board   of Selectmen to fulfill what
      they regard as a promise to protect   their neighborhood from traffic.

      Current plans call for wider streets slicing into historic areas   near the center of town.

      Now  town officials are challenging the jurisdiction of the   Wayland Historic District Commission (WHDC) over changes.

      In a  Sept. 18 letter to the Board of Selectmen the Commission   states its  authority under local ordinances and the Massachusetts   Historic District Act.

      "The WHDC is certain that changes to the roadway including   relocation of historic markers, the addition of traffic signalization and changes to curbing must receive a Certificate   (Appropriateness, Hardship or Non-
      Applicability) from the WHDC and   only after a public hearing that is duly noticed has been held,"   the letter asserts, referring to procedures followed in the past.

      "The WHDC is concerned about the future of the local historic   districts," the letter continues, "and particularly about how   present owners, who have chosen to invest in the town'’s heritage   believing that the historic district
      provides a level of   protection to their investments, will be encouraged to maintain   properties if the jurisdiction of the WHDC does not apply to the   town, the state, and to those needing traffic changes to enhance a   private
      development.  The Wayland Center Historic District is the   gateway to our town as well as to the anticipated development; its   fabric, its health, its integrity should be essential to all."

      Town Counsel Mark Lanza says that the selectmen, acting as traffic  commissioners, have the power to approve changes in the historic   district for safety reasons, relegating the Commission to an  advisory role.

      The Commission responds: "The WHDC is not aware that a duly  authorized public officer has determined that alterations in  either (local historic district) are necessary for public safety  because of an unsafe or dangerous
      condition.  The unsafe and  dangerous condition has not been identified or explained to the  WHDC; if such a condition exists has MassHighway been notified  that their recent reconstruction has caused an unsafe and
       dangerous condition?...What are the unsafe conditions that have  led members of your board to say that the WHDC has only advisory  review, as stated at your meeting on Sept. 15, 2008?"

      Members of the Commission appeared at the Sept. 22 Board of  Selectmen meeting and received no answer to those questions. The  selectmen next meet on Oct. 6.

      -- Michael Short

      FULL-DAY KINDERGARTEN CONSIDERED

      A school parent kicked off the Sept. 22 School Committee meeting by reading a long list of surrounding towns with full-day kindergartens, which Wayland lacks. She said that Wayland third and fourth grade MCAS scores have
      gone down to near the statewide average and suggested a relationship with the lack of a full-day kindergarten. A few minutes later the Committee took on the topic as a scheduled agenda item.

      Assistant Superintendent Brad Crozier had written a memo to the kindergarten staff summarizing his initial investigations into the issue, which included studying the Concord and Weston proposals.  Transition grants are
      available from the state. New costs are estimated at $357,000 not including additional employee benefits, materials, equipment, transportation, or grants administration. The grant might offset $135,000 of the cost.

      Crozier said that about half of towns offering new full-day programs are charging tuition, but Wayland administrators felt that charging would violate the principle of universal access that they consider a core value, in spite of
      the current reality that 110 out of 178 kindergarten parents are paying voluntarily for the Before and After School (BASE) extended day program. If the program were fee-based, tuition would be on a sliding scale by state
      mandate.

      Chairman   Louis Jurist questioned whether the town could afford the cost. He had earlier rejected a public comment suggestion that lower priority items, like frisbee and golf at the high school, be sacrificed to pay for it, saying
      such a move would not provide enough money.

      Member Heather Pineault said that full-day kindergarten would be state-mandated at some point, and it might be better to start now while grants are available. There has been increasing pressure on the state and federal level
      to beef up early childhood education because of its foundational effect for later learning. (It was even mentioned by Sen. Barack  Obama in the first Presidential debate.)

      Several members questioned whether kindergarten was the highest priority use for new spending of this magnitude.

      The Committee consensus was to move forward by recruiting a committee of staff and community members to address open questions. Member Deb Cohen will be the School Committee representative. Superintendent Gary
      Burton commented that if the program is to be implemented next year it would have to be in the budget by November. Crozier has laid out a timeline for possible implementation next year if funded.

      ADVERTISING

      As fiscal pressures mount, some school districts have been turning to advertisers to generate additional non-tax revenue. Advertisers traditionally were restricted to such low-visibility areas as school yearbooks, but several
      years ago the School Committee considered and rejected a proposal to carry advertising on the sides of school buses, judging that the esthetic impact for students and townspeople was not worth the modest potential revenue.
      New proposals are popping up, however, including advertising on a potential commercially produced school website and advertising panels on a commercially supplied new scorers' table at sporting events. 

      Rather than address the philosophical question of whether the schools should be serving as a platform for advertisers, the Committee focused on the specifics of the proposals. Questions regarding potential revenue could not
      be answered beyond "probably modest". To the suggestion that potential revenue could support athletics Pineault commented that if they could generate money by advertising or other non-tax means there are areas other than
      athletics where she'd rather spend it. Cohen commented that they should be concerned about the effect of outdoor advertising on Wayland's "semi-rural character".

      Member Jeff Dieffenbach commented that they had already passed the philosophical line with yearbook advertising, so extending it further was just a matter of balancing potential revenue vs. the (non-financial) costs.

      The matter was tabled pending receipt of further information on specific proposals.

      CAMPAIGN LAW VIOLATIONS

      Burton announced that a training session was being held the following morning for school administrative staff regarding allowable campaign communications. The issue surfaced because of an illegal email memo sent to school
      parents by former Middle School Principal Charlie Schlegel before last April's override vote. The session was to be conducted by state officials.

      FIELD HOUSE PROJECT BEHIND SCHEDULE

      The renovation of the Field House using private donations, which was to be completed before Town Meeting, won't be. Town Meeting will be held in the Middle School gym, with the Middle School auditorium used for overflow.

      RECONFIGURATION PROBLEMS

      In response to parental concerns, the all-kindergarten Loker  School will be partially locked during BASE (afternoon) hours. There is more concern about Loker because, with the reconfiguration, only very young children are
      there, and there are fewer adults in the building in the afternoon after regular kindergarten hours.

      Burton reported that dropoffs and pickups are running much more smoothly with the 15-minute change in the elementary school schedules. However, at Happy Hollow buses are still arriving ten minutes after the three o'clock
      school ending time. They first have to complete the high and middle school run. A parent called that "not acceptable".

      That parent also commented that there is still no 3 p.m.  bus for BASE, the fee-based after-school program, for which she had paid. Business Administrator Joy Buhler, who is responsible for bus scheduling, said that a bus
      should be available by Oct. 1.

      In another public comment, a parent noted that there was a potential $400,000 saving available from restricting free busing to the state-mandated elementary school zone within two miles of school. That's the approximate
      cost of adopting full-day kindergarden.

      -- Tom Sciacca
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      Michael Short, Editor
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