Westborough – Selectmen will ask the Green Technology Committee to take another look at a proposal to install a solar power generation facility on town-owned land near Hocomonco Pond, a plan rejected by voters at Town Meeting in March.
In voting to revive the proposal at its May 27 meeting, the board expressed optimism that a new article could be brought forward to the October Town Meeting to lease part of the former EPA Superfund cleanup site at the corner of Smith Valve Parkway and Otis Street for solar power generation.
In March, voters expressed concern about what many considered a lack of public input into the process that led to the proposal, especially around how the project would affect other potential uses for the site, including long-planned walking and bicycle trails.
“The feedback was heard that there needs to be a more public project,” said Selectman Chair George Barrette.
Gary Wells, chair of the Finance Committee, said he felt moving forward with the proposal, which would see the town receive both tax payments and renewable energy credits, makes fiscal sense for the town and can be done without disrupting the planned recreational uses of the parcel.
“We don’t need to blow a good opportunity,” he said.
Barrette noted that the town had done extensive work on the proposal that remains viable.
“I still believe the idea is a sound one,” Selectman Tim Dodd said.
Don Burns, who raised questions about the proposal at Town Meeting, said he is not against the idea of solar on the site, but said he wants to ensure it won’t cost the town the opportunity to realize other visions for the property in the future.
Town Manager Jim Malloy said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is scheduled to provide another five-year update on the cleanup progress early next year that could result in the entire parcel being released for public access and recreational uses. The EPA has already signed off on the solar plan, which would install panels atop a capped landfill on the property.