Voters at Westborough Town Meeting to decide fate of 39 articles

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By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor

Warrant includes requests for new town vehicles, demolition of Fales School, BWALT Trail changes and more

Westborough – The Annual Westborough Town Meeting, held each spring soon after the annual town election, always has a busy slate of articles on the warrant, and this year’s ATM, to be held Saturday, March 16, is no different. Thirty-nine articles on the warrant, covering a vast array of town “housekeeping,” capital budget requests, bylaw changes and clarifications, and a Citizens’ Petition.

Voters will be asked to approve funds for a number of new town vehicles, including $1.4 million for a new Fire Department ladder truck; $265,000 for a police cruiser; and $80,000 for a F450 truck with plow and $74,000 for a F350 utility truck for the Department of Public Works. The Police Department is also requesting $103,564 to replace its mobile radios.

Town administrators are seeking $100,000 for the purpose of undertaking a staffing study for all non-public safety departments. According to Kristi Williams, Acting Town Manager, a similar study was done for the Police and Fire Departments two years ago.

The Board of Selectmen are requesting that $56,994 of matching funds for the construction of the Boston Worcester Air Line Trail (BWALT), be used instead for a comprehensive feasibility and design plan. This change, Williams said, was after meetings with the Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Open Space Committee, Planning Board, Conservation Committee and town staff.

Voters will be asked to approve funds to demolish and replace the Annie E. Fales Elementary School. The current building, located at 50 Eli Whitney St., would be torn down and replaced with a 70,242 square foot building. The town would request grant monies from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). If approved for a grant, the town will be reimbursed at the rate of 48.32 percent for all eligible costs, according to MSBA documents.

The Board of Selectmen are also requesting an update to the current Animal Control bylaw to make it consistent with state laws and update rules related to the restraint of dogs. If approved, the bylaw would require owners to leash their dogs and have their dogs under the control of a functioning electronic collar.

Article 38 would request that the voters approve a measure to allow the Board of Selectmen to sell the former Regal Cinema, located at 231 Turnpike Rd. Voters had previously approved the town taking the property by eminent domain last year after the previous owners of the property could not be located.

A Citizens’ Petition is requesting that the town adopt a Polystyrene Reduction bylaw, which if approved, would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020. The bylaw would pertain to food establishments that dispense food in disposable containers made from expanded polystyrene.

The ATM will be held Saturday, March 16, starting at 1 p.m. at the Westborough High School Auditorium, 90 West Main St. The full warrant can be found on the town’s website, https://www.town.westborough.ma.us/sites/westboroughma/files/news/atmwarrant2019.pdf