5 Things You Missed at Last Night's Selectmen's Meeting
United Way to open a new food pantry, Framingham History Center plans 150th anniversary of the Civil War events and Selectmen approve 40 warrant article for Town Meeting.
1. United Way of Tri-County Plans to Open a Food Pantry
Vice President of Community Resources for the United Way of Tri-County Jen Maseda presented a new resource for Framingham residents to Selectmen meeting: a food pantry.
Maseda introduced the idea of a United Way of Tri-County food pantry, which is scheduled to open in June 2011, after surveying the area and finding, “an increasing need for access to food for families,” she said.
“Many people have a misconception about food pantries,” Maseda added. “People think its skid-row. What you see is rows of minivans not homeless with grocery carts.”
The new food pantry will be located on Pearl Street in the old registry building, according to Maseda. The United Way of Tri-County is leasing the building.
Maseda described people the food pantry would serve as the blue-collar worker or a tradesperson looking for his next job, the food service worker whose restaurant has closed or had her hours cut, and the laid-off office worker who can now go out and focus on getting a new job.
Maseda also said the United Way of Tri-County has studied other food pantry models and “providing food with dignity guides and drives us.”
2. Town Manager Julian Suso told Selectmen employee health insurance for the town is more than 16 percent of the town’s general spending.
He predicts that the percentage could go up to 17 percent by fiscal year 2012.
“About 69 percent of the entire town’s new revenue growth in fiscal year 2012 will go to municipal healthcare insurance,” Suso said. “This is gobbling town revenue which could go towards hiring new teachers, police officers, and firefighters.”
“The quality of our schools and public safety is being compromised,” he added.
Suso suggested the town go to a collective bargaining format with union colleagues, which is currently prohibit under Massachusetts state laws.
Suso also informed the Selectmen about a meeting at the State House he attended on municipal healthcare insurance reform.
“The time for real substantive reform has arrived,” Suso read from the speech he read to legislators.
3. Framingham Remembers: Commemorating the Civil War 150 Years Later
The plans for “Framingham Remembers: Commemorating the Civil War 150 Years Later,” are taking shape, said Framingham History Center’s Executive Director Annie Murphy.
“Framingham has terrific Civil War history,” Murphy said.
Several programs are already in the works starting with a “Memory and Meaning Series,” which begins on March 27.
The four-part series involves exploring the historical, scientific, psychological, and artistic meanings of memory, according to Murphy.
A few additional events planned for the 150th year of the Civil War are:
April 12: Illumination Night on the Centre Commons
June 10-12: A weekend of programming including a lecture on General George Gordon, a Framingham resident who was a soldier in the war and letters transcribed from soldiers to then Selectman C.C. Esty, a relative of now Selectman Ginger Esty.
Sept. 17: Walking tour of General George Gordon’s life around the Common.
The three events above are sponsored by the non-profit Framingham History Center.
Garden in the Woods communications officer Steven Ziglar said his organization will be focusing on medicinal plants, that were used during the Civil War and how the plants are used today.
4. Birch Road Wells Project Update
Framingham Public Works employees informed Selectmen about the process of the Birch Road Wells project. Selectman Chair Dennis Giombetti said the project has stalled.
Public Works Department Executive Director Peter Sellers said Framingham has been “rich in water resources because of the Sudbury River for the past 160 years.”
For those 160 years, Boston “has gained significant economic benefits at the expense of 2.5 square miles of taxable land in Framingham,” he added.
The town currently purchases water for its residents from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority and with increasing water rates; this project could save money for the town.
Sellers said Framingham is fourth from the bottom in terms of MWRA water rates for the surrounding 13 towns, and it will remain at a low level.
The $43.4 million appropriated project would pay off the plant construction by the early 2030’s, according to Framingham Department of Public Works’ Director of Planning and Design, Engineering and Transportation Division, Eric Johnson.
Johnson estimated that 3.4 million gallons of water a day could be used by the plant, which he said is a conservative estimate.
About $6.1 million has already been spent since 2005 on receiving permits, the design, and construction of the project, Johnson said.
The town has also hired a U.S. Geological Survey team to work on groundwater testing and modeling for the project, said Johnson. “The team is creating data and finding out the impact of the project on surrounding areas of the Sudbury River."
5. 2011 Annual Town Meeting Warrant - 40 articles.
After much discussion about the warrant for the 2011 Annual Town Meeting, Selectmen voted to approve of 40 warrant articles.
The selectmen had hesitation on some articles, but all articles were included; and a 40th article was added about the town’s sex offender bylaw.
Selectmen requested that the final printout of the warrant be on their desks for review at the March 22 meeting.
They voted to move the March 29 meeting to March 22 to have time to prepare the warrant, before it goes to print and to Town Meeting members on March 25.