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WVN #53: Selectmen OK HSBC Insert in Town Meeting Warrant

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  • waylandvoters2
    Wayland Voters Network December 20, 2004 Dear Wayland Voter, SELECTMEN OK HIGH SCHOOL BUILDING COMMITTEE INSERT IN TOWN MEETING WARRANT At their December 13
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 20, 2004
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      Wayland Voters Network
      December 20, 2004

      Dear Wayland Voter,

      SELECTMEN OK HIGH SCHOOL BUILDING COMMITTEE INSERT IN TOWN MEETING
      WARRANT

      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
      will follow.

      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
      compiled...."

      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
      officials...."

      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
      out.

      "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
      collapse."

      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
      idea.

      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
      of abutters."

      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.

      Thank you for reading this WVN newsletter. Please forward it to your
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      Wayland Voters Network
      Margo Melnicove, Chair
      Michael Short, Treasurer
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