WVN #501: What to do next about DPW garage?
- Dear Wayland Voter,
Officials have been pondering what to do next after Town Meeting voters rejected proposals for a public works garage on River Road and a large apartment complex on Route 20. The DPW garage is considered essential, and there is some optimism that a fresh proposal could be ready for a Town Meeting in the fall.
Also in this newsletter:
-- The Economic Development Committee is considering ways of keeping the River's Edge housing project alive.
-- The latest development proposal for a CVS at the former Finnerty's restaurant site on Main Street.
-- Voters offer ideas in the wake of the recent Town Meeting.
-- A local architect suggests relatively simple and inexpensive ways of improving the ambience of Wayland.
REMINDER: Special primary election for U.S. Senate, Tuesday, April 30. Polls open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
TOWN MEETING AFTERMATH
"We failed to communicate" was often heard in town hall as boards examined what happened at Town Meeting and how to go forward with plans for a new DPW garage and the River's Edge housing project.
One of the things apparently not communicated was a believable idea of the cost of creating a road to the DPW River Road location, a subject of Town Meeting contention. Now WVN has been told that the $11.4 million projected cost for the DPW garage included $956,461 for a new road and related mitigation. Tom Abdella, a member of the Permanent Municipal Building Committee and of the Board of Public Works, said there was adequate contingency funding for all elements of the road, based on the time schedule proposed.
Abdella cited a handout available on the last night of Town Meeting identifying costs of the road and mitigation.
However, the road has not been designed nor passed through the Conservation Commission hearing process. The existing roadway into the transfer station constitutes the most serious wetlands violation in the history of Wayland. There are fundamental conflicts to be resolved between, for example, restoring conditions to the pre-1978 base and conserving the newly developed habitat for threatened species that the road created.
In addition to the ConCom, there are federal stakeholders and various state agencies which might have differing priorities among the several wetlands values which were compromised when the road was built on a "temporary" basis in 1978. This is a unique situation never before faced by the Wayland ConCom and possibly never by any ConCom. Only the completed ConCom hearing process under the state Wetlands Protection Act and the local wetlands bylaw, together with the appeal process to DEP which might be required to resolve thorny conflicts, can finally settle the design and cost of the road.
Selectmen Host Multi-Board Discussion
Four boards (but not the Conservation Commission) were invited to meet with selectmen on April 22 to consider next steps for the DPW project and how to fund them, with a possible special town meeting in October.
Facilities Director John Moynihan expressed disappointment that voters did not give more credence to the work and qualifications of the building committee, noting that the oft-cited cost overruns on other municipal building projects occurred before he became a Wayland employee in 2007.
Moynihan reported that funding and new bids will be needed in order to proceed. Evaluating the possibility of using the Route 20 property previously intended for River's Edge for siting a new DPW facility would require another six to eight months, he said. He estimated demolition costs of the decommissioned septage plant at $300,000.
Moynihan said that if fall Town Meeting voters approve a project, he could have a bid package ready in late fall and construction could begin in the spring of 2014.
Permanent Municipal Building Committee Chairman Matt Kaufmann made it clear that no matter what gets built where, the DPW project will cost more than previously estimated. Member Eric Sheffels explained how the Article 10 proposal had included contingencies, and he questioned how much would be spent to get certainty about the Route 20 property. Sudbury's interest, role and responsibilities regarding the jointly-owned septage facility were not mentioned.
Moynihan explained that in late January the project team decided to change the permit application before the Conservation Commission to address only the proposed DPW building at the River Road property, leaving other site issues including the long access roadway for a later second phase. He had told the ConCom on Jan. 24 that the building committee did not have enough money to design the roadway. Moynihan has had informal meetings and site walks with the ConCom chairman towards developing a scope of work for the second phase. But an application for the second phase has not been submitted yet.
Selectmen Chairman Doug Leard asked for an update about the wireless overlay district, one element in Town Meeting arguments against the River's Edge proposal. Economic Development Committee Chair Rebecca Stanizzi reported that Town Planner Sarkis Sarkisian is working on a map to show how the wireless district would be affected by the proposed housing overlay district, which would cover three parcels already in the wireless district. It is not known what zoning changes the Attorney General's Office would approve under these circumstances.
There was general consensus at the meeting to work on unfinished tasks for the DPW project, which include additional study and design work for ConCom permitting, answering questions about methane and the pipeline, determining the cost of the extended roadway, investigating historical artifacts and endangered species habitats, developing a pro/con list for the two different available locations, incorporating information about the wireless district, and including the Conservation Commission the next time everyone meets.
Once the project team has an estimate for interim costs, the selectmen can make a formal request of the Finance Committee for a reserve fund transfer. The FinCom has some portion of its original $250,000 remaining in its Fiscal 2013 reserve fund.
Health and safety concerns at the old garage will remain since the construction of a new facility would not be completed until 2015 or 2016. Moynihan reported having spent about $50,000 in the last 2-1/2 years on needed repairs to the building, which dates to the 1930s.
Selectmen Vice-chairman Tony Boschetto said that voters know Wayland needs a new facility but raised legitimate questions at Town Meeting. He expressed confidence that a proposal can be prepared with more certainty for the fall.
Selectman Ed Collins asked about funds to improve conditions at the 195 Main Street garage, regardless of Town Meeting votes. Town Administrator Fred Turkington explained that in the last two months of a fiscal year, state statute allows a portion of unspent funds to be used if needed. FY13 turnbacks are projected to be about $1.4 million.
Selectman Joe Nolan advocated for financial resources so the building committee can vet the issues. Selectman Steve Correia commented that the DPW has been patient, waiting for its turn to get a new facility, saying "we've been putting money aside every year..."
In 2005 Town Meeting voters authorized the road commissioners to hire a firm to develop a proposal for a new highway garage. The board's funding article seeking $11.5 million in the draft 2007 annual Town Meeting warrant was not supported by the Finance Committee and was removed from the warrant by the Board of Selectmen. The town had been waiting for the state to end its moratorium on funding school building projects. A new high school had been planned for some time.
One puzzle piece not mentioned at the selectmen's meeting was the $65,000 Facilities Study that Town Meeting funded a year ago, described as a "town-wide evaluation of all buildings and their systems to determine the highest and best long-term use." Moynihan told the FinCom in January that the study should be ready by the beginning of March. At the March 27 selectmen's warrant hearing, Moynihan said a draft would be available in 10 days. Another month has passed.
The April 22 Selectmen's multi-board meeting about the DPW project and employee concerns about working conditions is available on WayCAM:
For the April 22 Board of Public Works' meeting: http://waycamtv.pegcentral.com/player.php?video=59a71778fd10217225d36d3543c3f1b5
For the April 22 Finance Committee's follow-up to town meeting: http://waycamtv.pegcentral.com/player.php?video=9eb5155cf3110c00760aeabe8e6f207a
2013 Annual Town Meeting summary of votes:
-- WVN Staff
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE DISCUSSION
On April 25 the Economic Development Committee (EDC) met in town hall and had a quiet, productive meeting, a contrast to an earlier meeting at the Dudley Chateau restaurant.
Following the selectmen's directive to re-examine the use of both the former septage site on Route 20 and the River Road parcel, the EDC has offered to the Permanent Municipal Building Committee its studies on the septage site to assist in determining the feasibility of that location for the DPW garage. See documents at:
The EDC also discussed at length the issue that its warrant article at town meeting would have nullified the wireless overlay district. The committee is examining rewording its article to keep some of the wireless district and whether it is feasible for a carrier to locate in the few areas that would remain within the wireless district if River's Edge were built.
Size and the level of age restriction on the proposed project were also examined in depth, with members explaining that what they had in mind was a place that offered some meals, as well as programming and community facilities rather than simply a large number of apartments. There was also discussion on whether it makes sense to get an indication of interest from various developers and an idea of what they would propose. For example, the EDC could develop a weighting system to indicate that a high proportion of senior units could be as important as the price for the land.
The EDC actively engaged the audience, which included an attorney familiar with cell tower cases and two city/town planners. The committee asked attendees what they felt were mistakes in prior projects and how those could be avoided. One discussion revolved around the concern that future changes to the project should require a special permit instead of simply site plan approval. Town Meeting Article 17 called for the eventual sale of the property with pre-approved zoning for a housing project, with local land-use boards giving up their permitting roles.
After some discussion, Town Counsel Mark Lanza indicated housing on River Road is not prohibited in the deed. The town bought that parcel to protect itself from potential liability when the prior owner intended to construct housing on the site.
-- WVN Staff
COCHITUATE CVS -- AGAIN
At an April 23 public hearing before the Planning Board, the developers of the 150 Main Street (former Finnerty's) property presented a plan that they said requires no permits from the town. The "by right" proposal places a nearly 12,000-square-foot building on the west end of the lot, leaving a large expanse of parking lot extending to the corner of Main and West Plain. It does not involve any residential space, and all existing homes would remain on Hammond Street, with access through the parking lot.
The side of the building facing West Plain retained some of the window features from the prior plan. However, the rear looked quite different to accommodate a mezzanine.
The proposed building includes a drive-through.
The Design Review Board meets with the developers this week, and the project will be back before the Planning Board on Tuesday, May 7, at 7:35 p.m.
Andrew Reck, who sits on both the Planning and Design Review boards, suggested the developer could keep a portion of the Finnerty's building for various uses. However, he admitted this was premature as the DRB had not met yet with the developer.
The prior proposal for two buildings received site plan approval from the Planning Board but was withdrawn by the developer.
The April 23 Planning Board meeting is available on WayCAM's Video on Demand archive:
-- WVN Staff
ARCHITECT SUGGESTS VISUAL IMPROVEMENTS
Architect Bill Sterling laid out potential visual improvements that could be made to various retail areas to improve the overall ambiance of the town. Among the concepts: more green space adjacent to the road and use of awnings with a consistent appearance in a complex. Sterling is a member of the Design Review Board that helped improve the proposed buildings at the former Finnerty's site.
In a Wayland Historical Society talk on April 24 he cited "signage disease" -- sandwich signs placed around town. Except for political signs, such signs are supposed to be 10 feet away from the curb. In his view, Wayland's signage bylaws are fine, but compliance is not.
However, when the Planning Board has informally asked the Zoning Board in recent years what sections of the zoning bylaw warrant updating, revising Wayland's signage provisions is always mentioned as a priority. Written concerns about errant signage should be directed to the Building Commissioner: JAbelli@...
Sterling called for Wayland to emphasize its asset of the riverfront, and suggested the town might not want to put "the whole enchilada" in one 40B project at the gateway to town.
His talk also featured a glimpse of Wayland's past, and said the town could use local food stores such as the much beloved Collins market, which operated for years in a historic building at Wayland Center.
Sterling said the owner of the Donelan's market site is interested in expanding, and the new owner of the Whole Foods complex is contemplating improvements and has met with the town's design review board. Possible improvements are a bridge to the nearby CVS and placing the outdoor eating area closer to the front door.
To preserve some older homes that may be in the way of progress, Sterling said, the town should acquire in advance land on which it could move a historic, threatened home.
-- Molly Upton
Moderator Dennis Berry and the Town Meeting Procedures Subcommittee held a post-Town Meeting discussion on April 24 with residents who offered a wide range of observations, opinions, questions and recommendations.
The feedback from residents who attended included: town meeting scheduling, warrant article preparation, selectmen's responsibilities, ordering of articles in the warrant, problematic placeholder articles, moderator rules, moderator discretion, pros and cons of reconsideration, historical examples of reconsideration, reconsideration steps, town meeting debate, electronic voting benefits, ELVIS data, efficient use of town meeting time, town meeting attendance trends over the years, role of town counsel, seating arrangements, non-voters attempting to sway voters, importance of having American and state flags, town meeting decorum, infeasibility of off-site electronic voting, Sunday town meeting, encouraging more voter participation, what kinds of issues affect attendance, amendments.
The conversation, led by the moderator, went on for several hours. Berry reported receiving written comments that he will review. The electronic voting subcommittee's analysis of Town Meeting data was postponed until a meeting in May.
-- Linda Segal
MEETINGS: agendas are posted on town website:
TUESDAY, April 30
Design Review Board, 6:30 p.m.
Audit Committee, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, May 4 Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day, 9 a.m. to noon, 195 Main Street
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor