TOWN MEETING LIVE: We’re underway…

Moderator Shawn Reilly announced at 7:05 that 150 registered Abington voters have checked-in, a quorum has been reached, and Town Meeting will begin shortly.

More updates to come…

Jack Bailey led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegience. Selectmen Chairman Alex Bezanson announced that he 2022 Annual Town Report was dedicated to Bailey for his efforts with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Selectmen Chairman Alex Bezanson with St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee Chairman Jack Bailey

Town Meeting held a moment of silence for a number of town residents who died in 2022, including Richard “Chip” Muncey, Russell Wheatley, and Katelyn McCarthy.

Congressman Stephen Lynch gave an update for the town. He said the town received $2.6 million from the CARES Act and $1.4 million in ARPA funds. Some of the projects the funding has been used for includes upgrades to town parks, a new generator at the Senior Center, and upcoming upgrades at traffic intersections. He said he is also looking at grant funding for Memorial Bridge repairs. “It’s very high on my priority list,” Rep. Lynch said. He called Abington a s”hining example of what’s best about America.”

You can tell a lot about a town by how it treats its veterans, seniors, and kids,” he said.

Kevin Donovan has been named Deputy Moderator. Donovan will step in for any article where Moderator Reilly feels he has an ethical conflict, such as zoning articles. Reilly is an attorney in town who frequently appears before the town’s planning and zoning boards.

Articles 1-3 approved unanimously without debate.

The town’s $65.6 million town budget was overwhelmingly approved with just a few dissenting no’s. A resident had a number of questions about various parts of the budget. A more detailed recap to come shortly.

During his introductory remarks, Scott Lambiase said that the town was looking for funding to buy a new ambulance, but joked it wouldn’t be a Ford. This was a reference to an ongoing problem the Fire Department has had getting Ford to honor a warranty to replace a failed Ford 550 diesel engine. Fire Chief John Nuttall clarified that the town may have to go with a Ford as there’s only a handful of companies that manufacture an ambulance chassis.

One member of the Finance Committee balked at the cost requested for a new ambulance — $485,000. The last ambulance purchased in 2019 was bought for about $348,000.

Nuttall said the department is “squeezing a lot of life out of the existing ambulances….we put serious mileage on these ambulances. We have to have a robust vehicle.” He said in 2022 the department made 1,884 transports to local hospitals, generating $1.4 million transport charges. Over its 10-year lifespan, the ambulance will generate more than $7 million in revenue.

Article 10 — Town Meeting voted to allow the owner of 199 Central Street, who is not a resident of Abington, to speak. He said he is an immigrant and has a new plan to build a couple low-income housing units on the land. He said he was “hurt” this was being considered and asked Town Meeting to vote no. Town Meeting overwhelmingly voted yes.

By far the most time was spent on Article 15, which would allow the Board of Selectmen to designate traffic safety zones lowering the speed limit to 25 miles per hour on non-state roads. The article was eventually approved by a majority vote. More detailed coverage to come.

All other articles were adopted with no debate. Town Meeting was adjourned at 8:33 p.m.

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