Shrewsbury holds Town Meeting, opts not to purchase Lake Street tract

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By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter

Town Meeting members speak in the Oak Middle School auditorium. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

SHREWSBURY – Shrewsbury Town Meeting members defeated an article that would have purchased a piece of property on Lake Street.

It was one of sixteen articles on the warrant for the Special Town Meeting on Oct. 18 at Oak Middle School.

This article concerned approximately one acre of a tract located at 439 Lake Street.

According to Board of Selectmen Chair John Samia, members approved allocating $99,000 to allow the selectmen to undertake a strategic planning process during the May Town Meeting.

The selectmen met over the summer to set their goals. One of those goals was to provide a safe community for all, Samia said.

“We had brought forward Article 16 as a proactive approach to address concerns from multiple residents regarding traffic, speed and roadway safety, generally,” Samia said.

During past meetings, town leaders said a corner in that area was sharp and not up to design standards. There have been 10 accidents there, including three this year, officials said.

Under this article, Town Meeting members would have given the town the authority to transfer $250,000 from free cash to acquire and make improvements on the property.

Samia said this article was brought forward “quickly” partly because the property recently became available.

“As we all know, real estate is at a premium, and Shrewsbury is no exception,” Samia said.

The selectmen initially recommended the article by a 4-1 margin with Theresa Flynn voting against it. She said she didn’t think it was a priority use of funds.

At Town Meeting, Samia said the selectmen heard concerns expressed by residents.

“We recognize that a piecemeal approach in achieving the town’s strategic goals is not the most effective option, even when the option that we seek to achieve may not be available in the near future,” Samia said.

He said the selectmen met again before Town Meeting. That time, they voted 5-0 to recommend the article be defeated.

Other approvals impact outdoor dining, Toblin Hill Drive and Nursery Drive

Outside of the Lake St. decision, Town Meeting members approved an article that will allow restaurants with outdoor dining to operate in more zoning districts.

School Committee members listen during Town Meeting. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

Town Meeting members also approved an article that will appropriate $2 million from the sale of Centech Park North to fund the replacement of the Toblin Hill Bridge and to make repairs to Nursery Drive.

Both Toblin Hill Drive and Nursery Drive lead to a subdivision of about 36 homes.

Town Manager Kevin Mizikar said that the bridge was deemed structurally unsound roughly five years ago. It was removed in 2018.

He estimated that the process of replacing the bridge will cost about $1.3 million. Nursery Drive repairs were estimated at $700,000.

“We are restoring the community roadway access as it was originally accepted,” Mizikar said.