Westborough – The Board of Selectmen approved the majority of a 24-article warrant at its April 12 meeting; it will next go to the voters at the Annual Town Meeting (ATM) Saturday, May 14.
One article the board withheld approval on concerned a request for $250,000 to replace pipes and ceiling tiles that contain asbestos at the Hastings School. Town Manager Jim Malloy explained to the selectmen that, according to school officials, pipes in one part of the school had started leaking due to some faulty duct work. In order to repair the area, certain ceiling tiles and pipes, which contained asbestos, first needed to be removed.
School officials had already received an estimate for the work that needed to be done, Malloy said. The officials, he added, wanted to repair this situation over the summer when school would not be in session. That was the reason they had submitted the request for the funding now so that it could, they hoped, be approved at the ATM.
The selectmen agreed that the company that had installed the faulty duct work should be held somewhat responsible for the issue. The board asked Malloy to invite the school officials to the selectmen's April 26 meeting to further discuss the situation.
Three additional articles on the warrant address needed repairs to town infrastructure. $330,000 is requested to replace the Forbes Municipal Building roof.
$251,500 had been requested to replace the HVAC system at the Public Library. Malloy said that he, along with other town officials, had instead decided to ask for $15,000 to have a professional specification and estimate done by an architectural engineering firm first. Once that is done, an article for the actual cost of the replacement system will then be placed on the fall Town Meeting warrant.
Another building, the Wastewater Treatment Plant, must have a cover replaced on one of the clarifiers that was damaged during a snowstorm. That cost, which will be covered by insurance, may be anywhere between $500,000 to $1 million, Malloy said. However, Massachusetts General Law requires that Town Meeting approval is required first before the town can use any insurance proceeds that exceed $20,000.
Article 18 will ask voters to approve a measure to allow commercial or industrial enterprises to have either one ground sign and one roof sign or two wall signs. Currently businesses are allowed one ground sign and either one roof or one wall sign.
Approval of Article 21 would result in a change in how the town does site plan reviews. The current bylaw requires the selectmen to hold a public hearing within 65 days of receiving a site plan application. Too many times, Selectmen Chair Rod Jané said, that application is not complete, resulting in the applicant requesting extensions. This leads to frustration for all parties, he said. The amendment to this bylaw would mean that the actual 65-day timeframe would not start until the applicant submitted a complete application that met all criteria established by the Zoning Bylaws and also had paid all required fees. Jané also said that he felt each member of the Board of Selectmen should get a copy of that completed application as well, at that time.
In other news, Selectman Tim Dodd noted that the town of Westborough has now offi- cially entered the world of social media. Residents are invited to “friend” the town on Facebook by “liking” the town of Westborough page. Malloy also has a blog on the town's website, www.town.westborough.ma.us, where residents may submit questions to him.