By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Westborough – The need to ease the tax burden on homeowners, controlling the destiny of the Westborough State Hospital property and replacing the town's aging infrastructures were three of the main issues discussed by the three candidates running for the town's Board of Selectmen in a forum held Feb. 26. Approximately 60 residents attended the annual Candidates Forum, which was sponsored by the Westborough Democratic Town Committee, at the Willows. Kate Donaghue, the committee's chair, moderated the forum.
On Tuesday, March 6, Westborough voters will choose two of three candidates for selectmen – former selectmen George Barrette and Denzil Drewry, and political newcomer Andrew Reinach. The two elected will replace incumbents Lydia Goldblatt and George Thompson.
The candidates first gave opening remarks before answering questions that had been submitted by audience members, and then gave brief closing remarks. The session was cordial, with all three men agreeing on many of the issues facing the town.
Barrette noted that he is a member of the town's Municipal Building Committee. It was an “enormous project,” he said, to replace the Fire Station and to renovate both the Town Hall and Forbes Municipal Building.
“It can be done, though,” he said. “If so, it will take care of the town's needs for the next 50 years.”
“We do need better facilities for the Police, Fire and Recreation departments,” Drewry said. “But a lot will depend on federal and state financial aid. But I do support the concept of all those facilities. Our first responders must be well-equipped and well-trained.”
Reinach said that he agreed that not only were the buildings outdated, but they were also not in compliance with the American with Disabilities Act.
The three candidates also noted that it was critical that the town, and not the state, have control over the fate of the Westborough State Hospital property.
The property, 108 acres, most of which is in Westborough off of Lyman Street, was closed by the state in 2010. Since then, state and local officials have been in negotiations about how best to develop the site.
The candidates also expressed frustration regarding the town's legislative representation on Beacon Hill. All said they felt that the town should have one state representative who was committed to the town instead of the three – Matthew Beaton, R-Shrewsbury; George Peterson Jr., R-Grafton; and Carolyn Dykema, D-Holliston – who currently share that responsibility.
Candidates for two other boards also answered questions at the forum. Paul George is running unopposed for the Assabet Valley Regional Technical District School Committee and Karen Fay, James Holmes and Carolyn Spring are running for the three open spots on the Library Board of Trustees.
Donaghue said that Brian Bush, who is running unopposed for the Planning Board and Nicole D. Sullivan, who is running for the open spot on the School Committee, were unable to attend the forum because of family obligations.