WVN #383: Varied opinion about future of Loker area
- Dear Wayland Voter,
Citizens brought few new ideas but a variety of comments to a forum on the future of the Loker conservation and recreation area.
Also in this newsletter:
-- A trial run at allowing Saturday Sudbury and Wayland transfer station customers to share the Wayland site was a flop.
-- Wastewater commissioners want to disband and hand over their tasks to the Department of Public Works.
-- The Zoning and Planning Boards will meet Tuesday evening to discuss zoning bylaw revisions for the spring 2011 annual town meeting.
FEW NEW IDEAS ABOUT LOKER AREA
A forum on possibilities for the Loker conservation and recreation area yielded few new suggestions on its use other than those outlined by the RecreationCommission. However, attendees had some interesting comments.
Private indoor skating facility and community space
Community center and outdoor fields
The forum on Dec. 7 was led by the Board of Selectmen although the land is under the purview of the Recreation Commission. By leading the forum, posted on the town website more than a month ago by the Recreation Commission, the selectmen created the suggestion that they should be in charge. If this town-owned land is to be developed through a commercial or private partnership, it has to be transferred, by a Town Meeting vote, from the Recreation Commission to the Board of Selectmen. Some selectmen have been active in investigating development.
The elephant in the room was the spring Town Meeting proposal withdrawn by a citizens' group called 30 Rec seeking to pursue private development of an indoor field and skating facility on the Route 30 site. Resident Lawrie Glick asked if 30 Rec still exists. Selectman Joe Nolan said he spoke with one of the principals and did not know if the proposal would appear again. Selectman Chairman Steve Correia said the concept is on the table and "they" may be trying to hear what the forum has to say. Correia, who has played a role in the evolution of the idea for an indoor skating facility, moderated the forum.
Not until the end of the meeting did anyone identify himself as a 30 Rec proponent. Paul Nicholas termed conceptual the prior proposal that included at least oneindoor ice rink (described last spring as seating 400+ spectators) and an indoor field.
The Recreation Commission's study of demand for fields showed softball fields as a high priority. The study by Gale Associates examined field use and demand, but did not look at indoor facilities. Commissioners decided during their post-forum meeting to further evaluate the report and the public's input at their next meeting on Jan. 10.
One of the major issues facing the town is funding. Jerry Levin of Wayland said the Eastern Mass senior softball league has more than 350 members. The group is a 501(c)3 organization and would be willing to be involved with financing for some fields at Loker, he said.
A Natick resident, Chris Carr, said he would be very interested in building a gymnastics and baseball academy on the site. He has no affiliation with the 30 Rec group.
Andy Irwin, chairman of the Conservation Commission, outlined the wetlands issues and suggested people informally discuss proposed changes with the commission so their plans could reflect the environmental factors.
There is a resurgent boom in the number of youth basketball participants (around 450), and the teams are squeezed for court space, Peter Kelman of Waylandsaid. In contrast, the number of hockey participants was estimated as "dozens --maybe 100" by Stu Cartwright, who cited the dollars draining out of Wayland when parents transported children to other facilities. Dawn Dominico said about 200 skaters from Wayland use the Valley Sports facility in Concord.
The history of Loker, and the suitability of the land was also discussed. The general consensus was that it might not be wise to displace a lot of soil on the site.The Board of Selectmen commissioned a review of prior data by Camp Dresser McKee dated May 10, 2010 that addressed putting a building on the site. Dave Trounson of Wayland, who coaches soccer and basketball, said he had reviewed the documents of the contamination and cleanup of the former Dow Chemical site and noted the need for further assessment regarding the potential for construction to change the risk assessment. "While the probability may be small, the impact could be huge," he said. Documents from the 1993-2000 cleanup of hazardous waste used to be available at the library. Post-flooding, the files were placed in dry storage in town hall.
While the hockey proponents said that if a facility is built, it will draw residents to Wayland, a Willow Brook neighbor, Joan Cohen, said she had moved from Newton to Wayland, with its higher taxes, because there was open space across the street.
Traffic on Route 30 is another issue that needs to be considered, many said.
The forum was recorded for rebroadcast by WayCAM volunteers from the high school.
-- Molly Upton
TRANSFER STATION SATURDAY EXPERIMENT ABORTED
On Saturday Dec. 11 the Wayland DPW and the Boards of Selectmen of two towns conducted an experiment closing the Sudbury transfer station/landfill on a Saturday to have residents in both towns use only Wayland's facility. The congestion was so bad and complaints so numerous that by 12:30 p.m. the Sudbury facility was re-opened for business.
At times the wait was up to 25 minutes for motorists to inch their way from the Route 20 entrance along the winding access road to dispose of their trash. Some frustrated customers were giving up and doing risky U-turns to get back out onto Route 20. Employees were on the receiving end of frustration and complaints all day that ranged from polite to irate. The good news was that Mother Nature slowly relented on the sub-freezing temperatures.
Wayland and Sudbury customers began sharing facilities recently as part of a search for economies to both towns.
The selectmen's idea was to determine if two towns operating one facility would be feasible. The two Saturdays before Christmas were announced as the trial dates. Wayland's Board of Public Works, which under the new DPW structure is supposed to have responsibility for policy, was not involved in the decision or the planning.
A press announcement appeared on the town's website and in news media outlets at the beginning of the week. A sign at the Wayland facility entrance warned customers to expect delays on 12/11 and 12/18. Some customers who usually show up on Saturdays probably decided to stay away to avoid the extra hassle. Given the busy holiday season, others who usually show up on Saturdays may have stayed away because of other commitments.
At the close of the day, Superintendent George Russell had not been told whether the experiment would repeat next Saturday. Russell reports to DPW Director Don Ouellette, who left for vacation on Saturday.
Ouellette reports to both Town Administrator Fred Turkington and to the Board of Public Works. When the town administrator position was established, it was explained that Wayland government would henceforth operate as a matrix management structure. Such an arrangement, common in high tech companies, has line managers like Ouellette reporting to more than one senior manager, but with different responsibilities.
In this case, it was explained that the town administrator would have only administrative responsibility over line managers, while the Board would have responsibility for technical and policy issues.
Turkington, however, has often acted like a town manager, making policy and operational decisions. The town explicitly rejected the possibility of hiring a town manager when Wayland government was restructured. Voters at the May 2004 Annual Town Meeting created the Town Administrator position, adding Chapter 60 to the Town Code, accessible on the town's website homepage.
For matters not under the jurisdiction of the selectmen, the town administrator job description in Chapter 60.2.2(a) includes the following:
"With respect to Town policies and programs that impact multiple areas of Town government, working with all elected and appointed boards and committees and Town department heads, be accountable for ensuring there is appropriate administration and coordination both (i) in the implementation and on-going adherence to Town policies; and (ii) in the development and execution of programs;"
At a Nov. 29 Board of Public Works meeting, members were surprised to learn of the upcoming Saturday experiment at the transfer station. One member expressed his displeasure to Ouellette. See "Turf Issues" in:
Residents with concerns about the transfer station can comment to town officials:
DPW Director Don Ouellette: DOuellette@...
Wayland Town Administrator Fred Turkington: FTurkington@...
Selectman Chair Steven Correia: stevencorreia@...
Board of Public Works chair Eric Knapp: eric.knapp@...
Sudbury Town Manager Maureen Valente: townmanager@...
WASTEWATER COMMISSIONERS WANT OUT
On Monday night, Dec. 13 at 7:45 p.m., Wayland's wastewater commissioners are expected to propose to the Board of Selectmen that the Wastewater Management District Commission (WWMDC) be dissolved and its functions be transferred to the Department of Public Works.
Since the summer, the public attending WWMDC meetings has observed commissioners expressing frustration that others were doing their job: they were not copied on documents, were asked to pay Foley Hoag legal expenses for an attorney they had not met, were not aware of decisions being made that affected commission business, so they saw no point in continuing to serve.
The longest serving commissioner gave up the chairmanship at the September meeting when his signature was required on a document to the Department of Environmental Protection that he felt not informed enough to sign.
With Fred Knight as chairman and Facilities Director John Moynihan more active at meetings, the commission appears focused on a parallel path towards dissolution and getting the plant built.
The Request for Proposals for constructing the town's new plant was issued and a contract was awarded to Waterline. Given the land swap and engineering details had not been finalized, the contract agreement was to last for 60 days. At last week's commission meeting, it was announced that another 30-day time extension had been granted by Waterline. That moves the deadline for finalizing the construction contract with Waterline to just before Christmas.
The plant's largest customer, Town Center developer Twenty Wayland, has been seeking a sewer connection permit from the DEP. There has been a disagreement between what the developer wants and what the state will allow for plant capacity allocation. A long and difficult negotiation process has occurred behind the scenes, with the DEP unwilling to relax its regulations, saying that they have to treat everyone by the same standards. DEP has instructed the commission to issue water conservation regulations and to not oversubscribe allocation.
A clock is ticking to get the new plant built to meet the timing and the environmental requirements of the commission's 2008 federal permit. Town Meeting voters appropriated $5.6 million to build a new plant, nearly twice the original estimate. The financing cost will be passed on to plant customers, who thought that Twenty Wayland would be paying a 70 percent share. Twenty Wayland claims its share of plant cost is 58 percent. Any shortfall would have to be carried by the other customers. Customers include the Town, several residences in the Historic District, and commercial establishments along Route 20.
The RFP did not include the cost of running new pipes across the former Raytheon property to discharge into a new outfall location along the Sudbury River, near the new Route 20 bridge. Wastewater commissioners have not established new fees yet; increases will be significant. One residential customer opted out because he was able to build a new septic system. Most other customers are not so lucky. According to Moynihan, the town intends to borrow the money next month.
Meanwhile, the legal and financial ramifications of dissolving the commission have not been publicly discussed. If the Selectmen agree to submit a warrant article for the spring Town Meeting to do so, and if voters agree, an act of the state Legislature would be required, which can take time.
JOINT MEETING ON TOWN BYLAW REVISIONS
The Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Board will meet jointly on Tuesday, Dec. 14 to discuss Zoning ByLaw revisions for the spring 2011 annual Town Meeting.
Voters passed over a proposed revision article at the November special Town Meeting.
The two-board discussion is scheduled for around 8:40 p.m. (exact time depends on other scheduled hearings earlier in the evening).
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor