Westborough town meeting approved police electric vehicle purchase despite proposed amendment

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By Stuart Foster, Contributing Writer

A Westborough police officer speaks with a community member next to one of his department’s hybrid cruisers during an electric vehicle informational event co-hosted by the Rotary Club and Sustainable Westborough this past summer. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)
A Westborough police officer speaks with a community member next to one of his department’s hybrid cruisers during an electric vehicle informational event co-hosted by the Rotary Club and Sustainable Westborough this past summer. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

WESTBOROUGH – Westborough Town Meeting approved the purchase of an electric vehicle and the installation of an electric vehicle charging station for the Westborough Police Department (WPD) on Oct. 18

The article, which transferred $70,882 for the purchase, was passed after a proposed amendment to change the vehicle to a non-electric vehicle failed. 

Advisory Finance Committee (AFC) member Andrew Bradley proposed that amendment, mentioning that he and three other AFC members were standing separately from the AFC, which voted 4-3-1 to approve the article.

Bradley said that, procedurally, it would be better for Westborough to work with a group that would develop policies to make all of Westborough’s assets more sustainable as part of a more coordinated effort. 

“My concern about the going electric with this position is that we formed a recently-completed master plan that we were working on that includes the specifics with regards to sustainability and climate change,” Bradley said. “That group, I think, is responsible ultimately for determining a plan, so that we can eventually move to a much more sustainable community through a lot of different investments that we are going to be making.”

Westborough Police Chief Jeffrey Lourie, who had previously presented in favor of the article, said that the police had taken care to research every aspect of the electric vehicle before making their recommendation of a Mustang Mach-E. 

“You hired me as your police chief, I would like to think four years later you’d trust me that I do my homework,” Lourie said.

Lourie said that he would only come before Westborough town meeting for something that he believes will work. He said that the article represents the WPD’s efforts to do what is right for the environment and to embrace the town’s movement toward electric vehicles while being as cost-effective as possible. 

Planning Board Chair Mark Silverberg also spoke against the amendment, saying that the town of Westborough had definitively decided that it wants to go in the direction of electric vehicles moving forward. 

“This amendment wouldn’t save the town any money, the amendment doesn’t propose changing the amount at all,” Silverberg said. “It just proposes telling the town to buy a gas vehicle instead of buying an electric vehicle.”

“To just eliminate an electric vehicle altogether from the equation just doesn’t make any sense to me,” Silverberg added.

Sustainable Westborough Chair Peter Dunbeck also opposed the amendment. He said that Lourie had presented on the possibility of purchasing an electric vehicle to Sustainable Westborough and said that they had a detailed discussion about the topic. 

“It is very much in line with the goals of the Master Plan and the Climate Action Plan to move to a more carbon-free solution set,” Dunbeck said.

The amendment was then defeated in a vote by town meeting and the article was subsequently passed.

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