Selectmen discuss rotary decorations, signage, memorial, hazardous chemicals

By Seth Stutman

Community Reporter


Westborough – In a meeting Oct. 26, the Board of Selectmen discussed a bevy of motions, appeals and events from signage to Sept. 11 memorial planning, despite the absence of Selectman George Thompson.

    Resident Earl Storey kicked off the meeting by asking the board to move his handcrafted ribbon advocating breast cancer awareness from its current location to the rotary.  As of now, there are no signs allowed on the rotary and while the motion was shot down so as not to open Pandora's box, the issue will be discussed in the future.  Selectman Leigh Emery spoke for the whole board praising the ribbon.    

    “I think that the display you did was absolutely stunning,” Emery said.

    The board voted, 4-0, to allow National Grid to install a solar panel and pole on the north side of Milk Street. 

    Sotir Papalito of Westwood Associates previously made a request to waive sewer and water fees for three affordable housing units at Park Place. The waiver would save Park Place $35,000 and was met with opposition by Vice Chair Lydia Goldblatt. 

    “The town is going to be out $35,000 that we don't have right now,” she said.  Despite her objections, the board approved the motion.  

    Three women from the charity organization “In Your Shoes” received permission from the board to use the town lake for the annual Polar Plunge. The event raised more than $10,000 for charity last year and will take place Saturday, Dec. 11 from noon to 2 p.m. The group looks to improve on last year's donations and increase the number of polar plungers. 

    Manager of the Department of Public Works (DPW) John Walden implored the board for more parking at the Senior Center on Rogers Road.

    “There is inadequate parking at the Senior Center and it’s getting worse.” 

The tentative plan, approved by the Conservation Committee, would double the parking spaces. The estimate is $60,000, but could become as low as $20,000, depending on the amount of tree and earth removal that the DPW can do over the winter.  The board unanimously approved the site plan. 

    Francis Zarette of Westborough Village LLC gave the board an update on Westborough Village, a housing community whose construction has been battered by the economy. Zarette has been working on the project since 2004 and regretfully said that the plans must once again be scaled back. Once a 350-unit project, the new plans call for 276 units with smaller living space. To secure funding, Zarette has teamed up with Toll Brothers builders.

    “Right now, it’s next to impossible to find local funding,” he said. 

    While all of the promised town improvements will still be made, because of the lower costs that the units must be sold for Zarette is asking that the percentage of affordable housing be lowered from 20 to 10 percent, from 54 to 28 units.

    “It's an economic reality given the conditions,” he said. “But [Westborough Village] will create numerous jobs needed in the area and create affordable housing.”

    Emery did not find that the reduction in affordable housing onerous and understood the value in taxes and miscellaneous fees that Westborough Village will provide.  

    “It seems that the most important part is to get this project developed,” she said.

    Chair Rod Jane took exception to the influx and size of recent political signage.

    “I have no problem with political signs, but some of them this year look like billboards,” he said. “I think it's gotten ridiculous, the size of the signs.”

    The rules state that the signs can be only two by three feet and the board agreed to be more aggressive in policing the rules.   

    Next, the board discussed the CSX Rail Yard and Bridge Project that would bring a chemical transfer facility to Westborough. The site plan (approved by the Conservation Committee) would entail

a lot of construction. Jane is tentative about the project that transfers hazardous chemicals through the town and is open to hiring a consultant (paid by CSX) to study the potential impact of the project. Walden agreed

    “A third party would be helpful,” he said.

    Goldblatt asked the board to convene a committee to plan a memorial for the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. “

    We haven't really had anything in town since the first anniversary,” she said.

    Goldblatt will begin to seek volunteers and wants to involve the schools, police and fire departments, and the military.  She will also be seeking donations from residents. 

    Lastly, due to the upcoming holidays, Board of Selectmen meetings have been moved to Nov. 16 and 30 and Dec. 14. 



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