WVN #523: Administrator search/Town Meeting articles
Dear Wayland Voter,
The decibel level remains high at Board of Selectmen meetings. But the selectmen and other officials have taken the first steps toward hiring a new town administrator.
Also in this newsletter:
-- Other town boards and committees approach the Sept. 19 deadline to submit warrant articles.
-- Calendar of events and meetings,
SELECTMEN PREPARE SEARCH FOR NEW ADMINISTRATOR
The crowd was much smaller on Sept. 16 than at last week’s meeting, which packed the Large Hearing Room, but a number of citizens still wanted to criticize the Aug. 26 decision of three selectmen to terminate the contract of Town Administrator Fred Turkington. Some speakers were familiar supporters of establishment candidates. And there was a cheering section to back them up with occasional applause, in violation of meeting rules.
The comments added no new information for the public to consider.
When the Board got down to business after public comment, some residents stayed, occasionally breaking decorum with snickering and loud hostile comments. This was reminiscent of supporters of the Town Center project years ago who heckled those who disagreed with them.
Later, Selectman Joe Nolan called on his colleagues to discuss the financial, operational and legal aspects of the contract termination. He and Steve Correia asked Selectmen Doug Leard, Tony Boschetto and Ed Collins to estimate what the decision would cost the town. The conversation was acrimonious.
Correia said the termination could cost the town $250,000. Boschetto countered that there were ramifications to any method of replacing Turkington. No alternative scenario was laid out in detail, but Turkington’s contract would have allowed him to resign in March if his contract was not renewed and then receive an additional six months of salary and benefits. The termination without cause gives Turkington a full year of compensation. Turkington isn’t here for the transition; there are varying opinions about the value of an employee who may have little incentive to do anything except look for another job.
Finally, the selectmen agreed 5-0 to pay Acting Town Administrator John Senchyshyn a salary equivalent to Turkington’s as long as he is in that role. Since Senchyshyn’s permanent job is Assistant Town Administrator/Human Resources director, and he acknowledged that the additional role is a juggling act, the selectmen agreed to look into hiring an interim employee to ease the burden. The current interim principal at the high school is an example of that.
The selectmen invited the Personnel Board and department heads to share ideas on the search for a town administrator. Veterans on the Personnel Board recalled procedures that worked well when Turkington was hired in 2005. In the near future a search committee will be formed, probably containing representatives of town departments and boards and a few citizens at large. A consultant may be hired.
Police Chief Bob Irving attended and encouraged the board to work together and strive for consensus on the new town administrator choice. He appreciated that the board is reaching out to senior staff. He explained what it meant to him back in 2001 to see a board, which also had its differences, choose him unanimously over another finalist. Fire Chief Vinnie Smith and Director of Assessing Ellen Brideau submitted written comments to the selectmen’s office.
The loudest voice of the evening was that of Kim Reichelt, who has mounted a wide-ranging campaign to publicize her Open Meeting Law complaint against the three who voted to terminate Turkington’s contract. She promoted her Monday meeting with the selectmen on her website, Wayland eNews, and has published arguments and opinions in the Wayland Town Crier and Wayland Patch. She even arranged for live streaming on her site of her appearance in case WayCAM was unable to broadcast live. WayCAM’s recording was posted the next day: http://waycamtv.pegcentral.com/player.php?video=201f05a27eaa4ca1e36f0f8b015301bf
Reichelt is a longtime supporter of establishment candidates, sometimes seen at Town Meetings sitting with other supporters and taking an active part. Before Wayland eNews, she and Chris Reynolds were officers of a ballot question committee in a failed January 2005 quest to fund designing a new high school during the state’s school building funding moratorium. WVN interviewed the Massachusetts School Building Authority director and reported on that winter’s 53% voter turnout at the polls: http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/waylandvotersnetwork/conversations/topics/65http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/waylandvotersnetwork/conversations/topics/69
As Wayland newcomers may not be aware, Wayland eNews is among other things an aggregator of news, offering links to town matters appearing in the Boston Globe as well as local media. The one notable exception is WVN, which in the past nine years has covered more government meetings than Patch and the Crier. As far as WVN staff can determine, eNews has not linked to any of the 522 WVN newsletters, totaling something on the order of a million words.
Open Meeting Law complaint procedure calls for the complainant to file first with the public officials being accused; the governmental body must respond to the complaint in 14 days. As Reichelt opened her discussion, Chairman Doug Leard informed her that the attorney general had granted the selectmen an extension until Sept. 27, and therefore the board’s response to the complaint would take place on Sept. 23.
Still, Reichelt gave her presentation. Since she received virtually no response from the three, she resembled a strident prosecutor delivering an opening argument. The offenses she alleges -- insufficient detail in the agenda item that led to the termination and discussing matters not in the agenda -- were “egregious,” She accused the selectmen of “hiding” in an executive session with special counsel.
Correia and Nolan offered agreement with some of Reichelt’s remarks.
Reichelt demanded that the three acknowledge that the agenda was intentionally vague, pay the maximum fine and undergo OML training. The maximum is $1,000, the amount originally assessed against four Wayland selectmen in June 2011. Correia split the negotiated cost ($500) with three other selectmen who are no longer on the board. In that case, OML 2011-26, they had been televised meeting illegally on July 8, 2010 discussing who would be appointed and removed from office.
If Reichelt remains unsatisfied with the selectmen’s Sept. 23 response, she can take the matter to the attorney general’s office, which has already begun interviewing Leard, Boschetto and Collins on its own initiative.
Potential Warrant Articles
Late in the meeting the selectmen agreed to submit a placeholder (incomplete) article for the Nov. 20 Special Town Meeting on building a new Department of Public Works facility on River Road. The language drafted by Town Counsel will be very close to the article that failed by 10 votes in the spring, but will include new wording on road access. The permitting process for that access roadway continues at the Conservation Commission on Sept. 26.
Earlier in the evening, Finance Committee Chairman Tom Greenaway told the selectmen that his committee voted to submit a fall town meeting article to apply excess free cash to the already approved FY14 budget, similar to the petitioners’ initiative at the fall 2011 town meeting. This time the FinCom prefers to take the lead. They have yet to decide how much, but they attributed some of the surplus to the accounting efforts of new Finance Director Brian Keveny.
There was a brief discussion of what constitutes free cash. Until free cash is certified by the state, the numbers are not finalized. Keveny expects that to be known before the warrant goes to the printer. On pages 5 and 13 in the April 2013 annual town meeting warrant, the Finance Committee described its free cash guideline as 5-10% of budget, with the FY14 free cash target as 6.5% to 7%. The FinCom expects to put finishing touches on its FY15 budget guidelines at its next meeting, Sept. 23. That same evening the FinCom is tentatively scheduled to hold its hearing for the warrant articles submitted for the special town meeting.
Article on Town Center But Not Housing
The Planning Board met on Tuesday evening, Sept. 17, to consider a Sept. 13 request from Town Center developer Twenty Wayland to submit a town meeting warrant article to again amend the proportion of office and retail spaces in the town’s mixed use zoning bylaw (section 2308.2.1). They voted to submit an article providing greater flexibility by allowing up to 52,000 square feet of office space instead of the current 22,000 square feet in the bylaw. All other totals in that paragraph would remain the same.
Considering the developer’s wastewater disputes (notably a suit that could cost the Town $1.2 million plus the cost of performance), the Planning Board’s article appears to be a placeholder. There is another month to go for final decisions to be made by the selectmen before the warrant goes to the printer. The Planning Board’s public hearing for the proposed zoning bylaw amendment is scheduled for Oct. 10.
The Economic Development Committee also met on Sept. 17 and decided not to submit a warrant article for the River’s Edge housing project, preferring to wait until the spring. A proposal for a large apartment complex on the Route 20 site of the decommissioned septage treatment plant lost narrowly last spring.
Another article not quite ready, protecting specimen trees (in the wake of NStar’s activities in June 2012), should continue to be studied by a special temporary committee, according to the Town Planner. The Planning Board had recommended the petitioners’ article submitted for the Oct. 3, 2012 special Town Meeting be referred to committee. Draft language appeared again in last April’s Town Meeting warrant, but voters approved a motion to have the study committee continue its work.
To avoid legal challenges about obstructing the work of utilities, and mindful of impacts to property owners, the committee is still working on trying to provide tree protection in a separate 193a permit under the Conservation Commission. .
Town Moderator Dennis Berry recently requested that the selectmen announce dates for the spring 2014 annual town meeting as soon as possible to enable all parties to plan more effectively.
-- WVN Staff
Thursday, Sept. 19, 7 p.m., Open Meeting Law training seminar, Large Hearing Room, recommended for volunteers serving in town government
Saturday, Sept. 21 Recreation Department’s ever popular Touch a Truck event at the Middle School. See page 3: http://www.wayland.ma.us/Pages/WaylandMA_Recreation/2013%20Fall%20Brochure.pdf
Saturday, Sept. 21 Wayland 375 Tour of Wayland homes representing each century. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. $25 tickets are on sale at Russell’s Garden Ctr. and Donelan’s Market in Wayland and online:
Sunday, Sept. 22, Dudley Pond Association fun run for adults and kids.
Sunday, Sept. 22, see 375 program below
Tuesday, Sept. 24:
Scenic and Shade Trees public hearings. Trees under consideration for removal in different parts of Wayland are posted on the DPW website, as follows:
Scenic Tree hearing at 7:30 p.m. for the 18 trees listed here:
Shade Tree hearing at 8:40 p.m. for the 28 trees listed here:
Anyone who questions or objects to the removal of any listed tree must do so in writing either in advance or at the public hearing. Contact either the Board of Public Works (Tree Warden) at 358 3672 or the Planning Board at 358 3615 or 358 3778 for further information.
Zoning Board of Appeals, 8:20 p.m. Cases include a new public hearing for 150 Main Street, formerly Finnerty’s property.
Wednesday, Sept. 25, 9:30 a.m. at the Council on Aging Senior Center in Wayland Town Building Wayland’s GIS coordinator Brendan Decker will walk you through the geographic information system capabilities available on the town’s web site in a talk titled “Wayland’s GIS: Learn What It Is, and How to Use It.” A manual is available at:
Wayland’s 375 Features Indian Predecessors
Mark your calendars for two presentations that focus on the Native American presence in the history of the land we know as Wayland:
The Spirit of Wayland: A Talk on King Philip’s War
Sunday, Sept. 22, 2:15-3:30 p.m.Wayland Public Library, 5 Concord Road Wayland, MA 01778
Doug Harris, assistant director of historic preservation for the Narragansett Indian Tribe, will present a talk on King Philip’s War.
Many indigenous people believe a place is imbued and alive with its own ever evolving character and spirit. 400 years ago this part of our Mother the Earth, now lovingly known as Wayland, was embraced by another people as their place of ceremony, their place of fond memories, their home.
We know this to be so because it was partially here that a coalition of indigenous people joined together against newcomers in what is now referred to as the Great Sudbury Fight.
That conflict was their fervent attempt to recapture their sense of a beloved place. We are told that the Nipmuck and Massachuseuk with their allies left that battle as victors, knowing full well that this place would in the future be “home” only in spirit.
The very soil of Wayland comprises the remnants of its pre-Colonial and post-Colonial past — its times of joy and well being and its times of conflict and tragedy.
If the spirit of a place is, indeed, alive and evolving, then what role can its people play in its spiritual nurturing and healing? As we interact today, how can we make peace and keep peace, foster balance and harmony? How shall we address the still resonating imbalances of Wayland’s conflicted past?
Is this 375th anniversary of Wayland’s founding the opportune time to energize reconciliation (past and present) as an active force within the spirit of Wayland’s evolving future? Is this the time to commit to renewed nurturance and stewardship of Wayland’s spirit?
Wayland Uncovered: Archaeological Evidence of Our First Residents
Saturday Oct. 19, 2-3:30 p.m. Large Hearing Room, Wayland Town Building
Tonya Largy, M.A., archaeologist and coordinator of the Wayland Archaeology Group, will present a talk about archaeological excavations of Native American sites that took place in Wayland.
Native Americans came into what is now Wayland sometime after the glacier receded approximately 12,000 years ago.
Since 1978, five excavations of pre-contact sites have been carried out in Wayland. These excavations gathered more than thirty radiocarbon dates. The oldest actual date on record is 6680+170 years “Before Present”. However, artifacts recovered from these sites represent periods going back to 8000 years ago.
One site was excavated under a state permit over a twenty-eight year period and the dates obtained from that work indicate that Native people continued to live here for thousands of years until the arrival of Europeans.
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor