WVN #53: Selectmen OK HSBC Insert in Town Meeting Warrant
- View SourceWayland Voters Network
December 20, 2004
Dear Wayland Voter,
SELECTMEN OK HIGH SCHOOL BUILDING COMMITTEE INSERT IN TOWN MEETING
At their December 13 meeting, the Board of Selectmen decided the
order of articles for the January 27 special town meeting. They
agreed to put the School Committee's article seeking $4.232 million
to design the proposed new high school first, in accordance with the
School Committee's request. That will be followed by the
petitioners' article seeking a freeze on any further spending on the
high school project until more information is available regarding
state aid and the financial impact on the town. Four other articles
Provisions will be made to handle town meeting attendance that
exceeds the capacity of the Field House, such as using other areas
(e.g., high school commons) and connecting the areas electronically.
Selectman Brian O'Herlihy said the overflow crowd provisions will
cost the town $12,000 whether or not they turn out to be needed.
Selectmen spent considerable time debating whether or not to allow
the inclusion of a High School Building Committee document as an
appendix to the special town meeting warrant. This document is an
expanded version (12 pages vs. 8 pages) of the four-color mailer that
the HSBC sent to all town residents at taxpayer expense (approx.
$3,000). Executive Secretary Jeff Ritter said it would cost $450 in
extra printing costs to include the document in the warrant.
O'Herlihy argued against allowing the appendix to the warrant because
the document duplicates the HSBC's town-wide mailing and presents
facts in an advocacy manner. He described the document as "slanted"
and provided several examples of slanted presentations of the facts,
such as the use of lower average numbers for tax impacts rather than
the higher numbers homeowners could pay once the project is fully
financed. O'Herlihy suggested that, rather than print the document
in its entirety, the Finance Committee use it as source material for
their comments in the warrant.
Selectman Michael Tichnor disagreed, saying the document was a
factual,informational piece. He supported printing it at taxpayer
expense for inclusion in the warrant.
Prior to the meeting, three residents wrote to the selectmen to
express their views on the subject. One said "...it is both
reasonable and critical that the town fund the copying of materials
that lay out the facts summarized by the HSBC as they relate to the
vote to fund architectural plans...it is not an advocacy group; it is
a group we helped select and we need the information that they have
The other two residents disagreed. One said, "Any literature that is
mailed by the HSBC, the School Committee or other town organizations
with taxpayer funds, must be objective and contain undisputed facts;
anything else must be so noted as opinion or perspective...each
taxpayer deserves to receive unbiased information from our
Another person, who signed his letter "Resident & Overtaxed
Taxpayer," said he is against spending any town money on sending out
the HSBC's 12-page document. If unchecked spending continues, this
longtime resident (over 25 years) said he will be forced to move
"You are creating a spiral of death for the Town of Wayland," he
wrote to the selectmen. "As taxes rise higher and higher, more
people without children in school will be forced to move out. To
replace them, only people with several school age children would be
able to justify the taxes for living here...and it will become
necessary to raise taxes again to cover the increased school
costs...In the end, even many people with school age children will
not be able to afford to live here and the whole system will
Ultimately Selectmen Betsy Connolly, Michael Tichnor and Bill Whitney
voted to include the HSBC's document as an appendix to the warrant,
while Brian O'Herlihy voted against. Selectman Doug Leard abstained.
O'Herlihy also suggested that petitioners of the article to freeze
further spending on the high school project (until the new rules for
state aid are clear and the Finance Committee holds a public hearing
about the project's financial impacts) also ought to be allowed to
add an appendix to the warrant. He received little support for the
HIGH SCHOOL SITE ABUTTERS SUBMIT PETITION
The next day, the selectmen's office received a petition signed by 63
residents of the Charena Farms neighborhood asking for a formal role
in the high school design process to protect "the fundamental rights
The petition recommends a neighborhood advisory committee "to
collaborate with the HSBC, School Committee and Board of Selectmen."
"We have been good neighbors to Wayland High School," the petitioners
said, and went on to discuss concerns they brought to the HSBC on
Nov. 18: location and operation of a two-story sewage treatment plant
treating 10,000 gallons daily; a gated emergency road cutting through
the neighborhood which has been "temporarily deleted" from the
design; and a possible playing field near the neighborhood.
The Board of Selectmen meets tonight, December 20, at 7 p.m. in the
Town Building. It's not clear from the agenda whether the petition
letter from the Charena Farms neighbors will be discussed. The
Finance Committee also meets tonight at 7 p.m., and the School
Committee meets tonight at 7:30 p.m.
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Wayland Voters Network
Margo Melnicove, Chair
Michael Short, Treasurer