Abington’s Annual Town Meeting is underway. We’ll try to publish regular updates as this goes along.
RECOGNIZING CHARLOTTE HERNANDEZ
Town Meeting recognized Charlotte Hernandez, Abington’s representative to Project 351, a non-profit that aims to develop the next generation of community-based service leaders. Earlier this month, Hernandez organized a drive that collected 20 bags of clothing to Cradles to Crayons. She also led Town Meeting in the Pledge of Allegiance.
SPECIAL TOWN MEETING BREEZES THROUGH
The body breezed through the 7 article Special Town Meeting warrant in about 7 minutes. All articles were approved unanimously and there were no questions or debate.
CONGRESSMAN STEPHEN LYNCH SPEAKS
Abington’s representative in Congress, Stephen Lynch, briefly addressed Town Meeting, going over some of the stimulus bills that have passed over the past year, and their impact for the town. Rep. Lynch also gave a nod to the august body gathered before him. “This is really the most meaningful work we do in government today,” Rep. Lynch said.
TOWN MANAGER SCOTT LAMBIASE UPDATE
Fresh off from marking his first full year as Town Manager, Scott Lambiase gave a brief state of the town address where he thanked everyone who helped the town get through the pandemic, and highlight that the town’s proposed budget is balanced without dipping in to the stabilization fund. For the coming year, Lambiase pledged to improve transparency and inclusion coming from Town Hall, and said the new Capital Plannign Committee will be working with the Collins Center to devise a capital funding strategy and the affordable housing trust will work towards addressing the town’s afforda le housing needs.
TREASURER/COLLECTOR SONIA HODGE GIVES DEBT UPDATE
Ahead of the debate on a new fire station, Treasurer/Collector Sonia Hodge gave an update on the town’s debt situation, and the project’s anticipated impact on tax bills. A $30 million fire station is expected to add about $275 for a $300,000 home annually, $450 for a $500,000 home, and $625 for a $700,000 home. Fire Chief John Nuttall took the opportunity to ask Congreeman Lynch to bring more tax dollars home for local projects like these.
With just a couple brief questions, Town Meeting adopted a $59.7 million budget unanimously. The capital budget passed moments later with no questions and no objections.
BUNDLED ARTICLES PASS
Upon a motion of the Finance Committee, articles 3-10 were bundled into a “consent agenda” and passed unanimously.
COMMUNITY PRESERVATION ITEMS PASS
Town Meeting approved by a majority vote the $303,000 in Community Preservation projects, which includes a new well at Griffin’s Dairy, additional upgrades to Plymouth Street field, and money to raze the wooden Beaver Brook playground. Michael Franey asked whether the well would be available to the public. Water Works Superintendent Joe LaPointe said the well coudn’t be used by the public unless the town secures a drinking water permit from the state DEP. Franey also asked about past CPA allocations around algae in Island Grove and replacing the Island Grove bridge. CPC Chairman Bruce Hughes said both studies are complete; it’s a matter of the town figuring out next steps.
FIRE STATION ENGINEERING MONEY PASSES
After significant discussion, Town Meeting agreed to fund engineering plans for a possible new fire station off Gliniewicz Way. The $3.5 million article passed bye a 119-16 vote – way more than the 2/3 vote needed for approval. Fire Station Building Committee Chairman Derek Haimadi fielded questions and comments for more than 45 minutes, aided by Fire Chief John Nuttall.
Town Meeting attendees questioned the project’s cost compared to other towns, the choice of Gliniewicz Way versus the former North School, the lack of direct access to Route 18, and the proximity to the condos off Thayer Street.
“What happens if there’s an emergency when kids are coming out of school or going in to school?” Walnut Street resident Robert Pratt asked.
Committee members said they looked at the North School site but that essentially, once the station is built, the site would be fully built out with no room to expand if needed in the future. Haimadi said the intersections around the North School site are also some of the most accident prone in town.
The money for the engineering studies is needed to provide firm answers to some of the questions attendees asked Haimadi said, such as whether its feasible to build an emergency exit way that connects to Thayer Street, can the Gliniewicz Way site be fully built on, and what the final costs will be. He also said that depending on studies, the North School site for now is not being ruled out; that some data could show its actually the optimal site.
“The way to prove or disprove either of these sites is to get to the next step,” Haimadi said.
Just under $1 million of the money will be used to create all needed engineering and design work with nearly another million needed to prepare bid documents and qualify possible builders.
Town voters may be asked next spring to give final approval for the project.
FIRE STATION LAND PURCHASE APPROVED
Town Meeting quickly approved $130,000 to buy a 6-acre land-locked parcel of land off Gliniewicz Way. The land will likely become home to a new Abington fire station. One resident spoke out against, saying he supports a new fire station but not at this location, due to its wooded undisturbed nature.
TOWN MEETING REJECTS CHESTNUT STREET ZONING CHANGE
By a comfortable margin, Town Meeting rejected Article 28, which would have reduced the minimum lot size in the MUPPD zoning district from 10 acres to 3 acres.
THAT’S ALL FOLKS
The remaining agenda followed the printed recommendations with little to no discussion. Town Meeting adorned at 9:47 p.m.