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March 8, 2005
Regular Session 7:45 PM
Ms. Tully, Mr. Edmundson, Mr. MacIver
Ms. Tully noted that the Board had taken public input on the issues of the ice rink, nursery school easement and the housing partnership article.
Ms. Tully thanked the Ice Rink Committee for the hard work to date and pointed out that the Committee was not a building committee and had no funds to explore site issues in detail. She said it is her opinion that it would be premature to vote on an ice rink without more funds committed to site investigation and permitting for South Shore Country Club and Bare Cove Park. The amount should be left to the Advisory Committee to recommend. Mr. MacIver noted there are more detailed numbers that express a level of confidence that wasn’t here last year and agreed that it is time to invest additional funds to show our commitment to the sports program. Mr. Edmundson said that an ice rink would bring wonderful positive things to our town and he is very committed to seeing it succeed. He is enthusiastic about the proposed site and feels this is very much a financially viable project.
Voted - to recommend that the Advisory Committee (1) appropriate a sum of money from surplus funds for site analysis of both Bare Cove Park and Country Club locations and (2) appoint a building committee consisting of three members appointed by the Board of Selectmen and two members appointed by the Moderator.
Hingham Community Nursery School Easement.
The Nursery School representatives have discussed in detail the accommodations between the nursery school and the Middle School. The School Committee and Police Department have worked collaboratively with the nursery school to arrive at safety terms. Ms. Tully reviewed the terms of the agreement and Mr. MacIver noted that this satisfied his need to see more focus on the walkers.
Voted - to recommend the warrant article to grant an easement to the Hingham Nursery School subject to the conditions of the School and Police Departments.
Community Preservation Committee
Ms. Talmage gave an overview of the proposals for funding from Community Preservation this year. During the past three years the town has received a 100% state match of local funds. The Fund carried over $600,000 from previous years, this year’s surcharge was $480,000 plus the state match equals $1.571 million in fund. There was a proposal for and open space acquisition for Weir River Estuary Park. This project will not being going forward due to an inability to make agreement with the owner. The Bare Cove Park athletic fields have been proposed for up to $100,000 for permitting of fields. It was felt that the committee could get a more accurate estimate with completed construction drawings and there would be a better sense of how many fields could be built. There may be a revised number here. The Conservation Fund under the jurisdiction of the Conservation Commission has been a longstanding fund. It is depleted to about $20,000 in light of the citizens’ interest in preserving land that’s left. The addition of some money to this fund would allow the Town to act more immediately. This money would not be for acquisition, but pre-acquisition for deposits, etc. This would allow the Conservation Committee to put a deposit down prior to town meeting approval. The existing Conservation Fund can be used for maintenance; the Community Preservation Fund deposit would be restricted to pre-acquisition activities.
The historic preservation projects include the Torrent firehouse sign preservation project, an architectural conservation study of Old Ship Church and a restoration project on GAR Hall. The original Torrent sign, including the figure on the top, was built in 1860. In 1976 money was appropriated for the sign repainting. The intent is to duplicate the sign with weatherproof materials, keep the old sign for future restoration and conserve the “man” to put on display. The reproduction of the sign and figure, installation and restoration of the original is projected to cost $36,050. Mr. MacIver noted that the craft and ornamentation is emblematic of the pride that followed firefighters and their stations. It is wonderful to see this preserved. Old Ship Church dates to 17th century and is a building that is very important in American architectural history. This article would fund a professional study of Hingham’s premier building. A legal analysis of the separation of church and state issues indicated that public funds might be used on the exterior of property purely to protect the architectural and historical aspects of the property. The landmarks are only the exterior of the property, not the interior. GAR Hall is largely done but needs an additional $30,000 to fund additional rehabilitation and restoration of the interior space. The Administrative Fund has been largely depleted. The Committee continues to need funds for legal fees, deed restrictions, appraisals and consulting fees. The Community Preservation Act allows up to 5% of reserves for an administration fund. The Committee is requesting $50,000 for administrative funds which can be used for engineering, architectural fees, etc.
Voted - to adopt the recommendations for the 2005 town meeting articles submitted by the Community Preservation Committee.
Mr. MacIver explained that it was the sense of the Housing Partnership Committee to keep the maximum local preference with no order or ranking.
Voted - to recommend the Housing article submitted by the Housing Partnership Committee. Local preference will be given to the maximum allowed.
Demolition Delay Article
Mr. Studley explained the Historical Commission proposed amending the By-law by changing the six-month demolition delay to a twelve-month delay in order to preserve worthy historic structures. This longer delay would allow more time to come up with something that would meet the needs but it would not prevent a homeowner from demolishing the structure. Mr. Edmundson said he would support this. Mr. MacIver remarked that it seemed appropriate with the changing development picture in town. Ms. Tully said she was concerned about imposing another onerous task on the homeowner. Ms. Young noted that last year there were 12 requests for demolition - 3 for the total house, 5 for barns and 4 partial demolitions. The Commission has a very small amount of time to determine whether there is something historically significant about a property. In 30 days the Historical Commission has to notify the Building Department and owner, during the next 60 days the applicant can have a public hearing and present their case. After that public hearing the Commission makes its final determination and the six-month clock starts ticking. The six-month delay starts when the Commission determines that a property should be preserved. An additional six months would give the Commission leverage and make people consider the possibilities. Ms. Tully restated her concern that this would be onerous on the homeowner. Mr. Edmundson said a longer delay could discourage the opportunistic developer who might want to buy a property and do a teardown. The Master Plan calls for preserving historic assets.
Voted – to support the demolition delay by-law article submitted for the warrant.
Ms. Tully opposed.
Conservation – Land adjacent to Foundry Pond
A fair amount of work has to be done to determine the name of the owner. It is possible that this landlocked parcel could belong to a local family that has been around a long time. There is a fair likelihood that this land could be acquired by gift once the owner is identified and contacted. The staff has a pretty good sense of who owned it a long time ago. No taxes have been billed on the property for many years. The idea is to protect as much around the pond as possible. The Board recommended a more comprehensive process and consideration of the article again next year.
Easement on Gardner Street
The abutters notified have been notified of the proposed easement. Three homeowners will be impacted and Mr. Stigliani has not spoken to all of them yet. This article would give the Board the authority to accept easements from the property owners but does not require that anything be done. Mr. MacIver noted that the article would allow eminent domain. Mr. Cristello said that the Board could move to acquire by donation, which would limit the authority to acquire. The Board will discuss this article at the next meeting.
Disposition of Town-owned Land
Mr. Perry explained that the idea behind his article was to get the possible uses of town- owned defined before the issuance of an RFP. This is would be done as a matter of course. If the proposed use changes the zoning, it would be subject to the usual process. The only scope in which this operates is the floor of town meeting. Mr. Edmundson said he is opposed to the article for two reasons: 1. It is unnecessary because town meeting can restrict things on a case-by-case basis and 2. It presents undue complications - think of the torture the town has been through with the police station. Ms. Tully said she feels this article brings confusion, not clarity. If the town meeting wants something done they can direct it; the mechanism is there. Town meeting has the opportunity to express its wishes.
Voted - not to adopt the motion on town owned land.
Mr. MacIver opposed.
Capital Outlay Committee recognized that there are three major projects in front of the town: construction of athletic fields at Bare Cove Park, the construction of the DPW Facility and the Fire Station. If the Town were to finance these projects in entirety all three projects would be fully issued by 2010 with 20year debt projections. Given the budget for debt service this would be a virtual impossibility. Using that as a starting point, the Mr. Alexiades said they began by allocating $.5 million of surplus revenue to the fire station and recommending bonding the balance. It is hoped to finance half of the field construction costs with $1.042 of Community Preservation Committee funds. Doing that, the number drops to half on the debt service cost. This is a debt structure that will need to brought before the Town. There is substantial debt capacity and communication should begin communication with the Advisory Committee. No revenue from the sale of town assets, building permits or new growth was considered when these projections were made.
Voted - to grant an Entertainment License to Salsa’s of Hingham, Inc. 211 Lincoln Street, David M. Littlefield, Manager. Entertainment will consist of a non-amplified 3 piece Mariachi Band for Friday and Saturday evening from 6:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M.
Selectmen/Town Administrator’s Report
The interfaith Seder is Sunday at 3:00. The Red Sox trophy will be at Town Hall this Saturday from 10 AM-12:30 PM. Mr. Cristello said that the Development and Industrial Commission and Katy Lacy met with Corinne Young of Congressman Delahunt’s office to show her the latest downtown plan. They asked about possible funding sources for a project like that. It seems that the sources would be economic development funds and transportation funding similar to the types of funds the Town is trying to get for the shipyard parking deck. Given the fact that we are already in the queue, seaport advisory funds that could link parking at Station Street might be an option. The Town will begin to work on state avenues as well.
Meeting adjourned 10:15 PM.
Betty Foley, Clerk