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March 6, 2007
Regular Session 7:35 pm
Mr. Edmundson, Ms. Tully, Mr. Riley
Voted - to accept the minutes of February 27, 2007.
Parking - 3 Otis Street
Mr. Edmundson explained that there have been concerns expressed about the parking down at the harbor in the area of 3 Otis Street. Mr. Bond, a potential purchaser of the property, met with Mr. Edmundson to explain his concerns relative to the parking and the use of the property. Mr. Edmundson said that he had convened an informal working group to discuss what could be done to mitigate any issues. He said that in the average layman's mind this might be comparable to the deal made with Mr. Hastings where the Town received certain benefits in return for bestowing certain rights on the property holder. Mr. Bonn said he is very open to providing space for a harbormaster's office and bathrooms in exchange for mitigation of the onsite parking problem. Mr. Bonn said this is a business deal that has to work for everyone to be able to do it.
Three other things were discussed as a part of any agreement: (1) offer of first refusal on future sale, (2) restriction of the use of property to marine use, and (3) confirming rights for pedestrian access under the existing state permit and access to Whitney Wharf. Mr. Bourbeau said that there is no reason to believe there will be a disagreement about the public rights to that access. The restriction to marine use may need more discussion since there are existing uses that are not marine such as the art gallery. Mr. Bonn is open to discussion on these issues but would try to limit things that would significantly limit the value of the property. Ms. Tully questioned how does right of first refusal would affect value of property. Mr. Bourbeau suggested an offer to the Town prior to marketing it might be a better arrangement - perhaps it should be called a right of first offer. Mr. Riley asked how many parking spaces Mr. Bonn was seeking. He replied that he was looking for enough to make sure the business is in compliance.
Mr. Bonn explained a medium to long-term lease would be necessary to make this deal work and suggested five years as a minimum. Mr. Riley asked if he would accept a year-to-year basis. Mr. Bonn said that knowing that at the end of the year the value could go down considerably would not support the deal. Mr. Riley countered that it might not be in the best interest of the Town to lock in for a number of years and interfere with the vision of what should be done at the harbor. Mr. Edmundson said there are two ways to deal with this proposal - one, to give the right to Board of Selectmen to negotiate a leasing agreement or, the other, to have the whole agreement in hand before town meeting.
Mr. McGrath was unable to attend the meeting but did provide some recommendation as to mitigation for the town proportionate to the value created for the property owner in this situation.. Mr. Amdur commented that marina operation is integral to the town. This marina has been an access point for boaters for many years. He noted that the slips have allowed increased boater access and it has been a positive operation. Parking is a frustrating situation since there are 130 spaces in the immediate area that take care of the parking needs with the exception of two or three weekends a year when the Station Street lot and/or the Bathing Beach lot take the overflow. The new owner of the building would fund the capital improvements to the building for the Harbormaster's Office and restrooms. Spaces should continue to be available to everyone, not exclusive use. There has been a discussion on whether there should be an additional fee for parking. Mr. McGrath's analysis said there should be a fee of $67,500 annually based on half the anticipated annual revenue from the slips. Mr. Amdur said this works out to about $45 per boater visit and that does not meet a reasonability test. Additional revenue based on $10/visit would be $14-15,000; the donated space for office and restrooms would represent about $10,000 per year in foregone rent. Mr. Amdur said some small payment might be reasonable but Mr. McGrath's proposed fees are excessive and would drive away buyers.
Mr. Reardon said some years ago there was a similar type negotiation and what carried the day was the transparency in the negotiations. Currently there are slips in place but there does appear to be parking that is responsive. There are three players: the buyer, the seller and the town. What is needed is something fair to all three players. The seller is entitled to a developer's profit for what he has done; the purchaser is entitled to a reasonable purchase price; and the Town is entitled to a reasonable price for what it is exchanging. A clear sense of what the trade-offs are and what is fair to all concerned is necessary. It was noted that the kinds of amenities talked about here are a great benefit to the Town.
Mr. Reeves suggested that it is premature to consider this. Mr. Riley pointed out that the plan presented by Mr. McGrath would have the Harbormaster's Office and bathrooms paid out of the suggested $67,000. Ms. Tully said a lot of progress has been made and she would like to see negotiations continue. The Town wants an active and vibrant waterfront. She also noted that there is a need for a non-exclusive use for parking and that Mr. Reardon made great points on the need for transparency. The buyer would be gaining by getting the necessary parking but the Town would be gaining too - a harbormaster office, bathrooms and an active waterfront.
Mr. Riley said the people in Hingham wanted the Board of Selectmen to be more proactive in getting things back for the Town in return for development rights. The harbor has potential to be a great revenue source for the Town and Mr. Riley does not want to be locked into an agreement that would tie the Selectmen's hands for future development. A meeting will be arranged with Mr. Toomey, Mr. Bonn, Mr. Bourbeau and Mr. Edmundson. Mr. Edmundson will report back as soon as possible and try to get as specific a proposal as possible for town meeting.
Voted - to advise the Harbormaster to not issue new 10A float permits for additional slips until such time as the parking issues have been resolved.
Voted - to extend the date for Notice of Award for conveyance or lease and the development of affordable housing on the property located off Beal Street until April 30, 2007.
Ms. Talmage reviewed the Community Preservation projects to date. One of the projects proposed for this year, the Baker property, needs more discussion and the Committee will come back with a recommendation at a future date.
One proposal is for the masonry repair to the Queen Anne's Corner fountain that is being relocated. A second historic preservation project is the restoration of the iron horse. There is a problem with the foundation that will require placing scaffolding around the horse, lifting it up and shoring things up underneath. It is also proposed that various historic bronze plaques around town be restored. It is extimated that the fountain repairs will cost $50,000 and the horseman and plaques, $64,500.
Voted - to support the warrant article that will include both the restoration of the Queen Anne Fountain and the repair of the iron horse and bronze plaques.
The Harbor Development Committee has requested the Community Preservation Committee to fund the design and permitting of a harbor walk which would begin at Otis Street. Mr. Amdur explained that the Harbor Master Plan will recommend a walkway all around the harbor. The engineering, permitting and design will be a logical first step.
He said the Committee had shared the plans with conservation, public safety and others. The results and comments have been very supportive. The Trustees of the Bathing Beach have expressed reservations about the construction of a walk along the bathing beach but Harbor Development is optimistic about working out those differences. Mr. Mazzarelli explained the proposed walkway is to be universally accessible, attractive and durable with amenities such as lighting, trash receptacles, and shade pavilions. He estimated a cost of $1.1 million for the section of walkway from Otis Street to Whitney Wharf. The remaining section from Whitney Wharf to Barnes Wharf will be additional money. The harbor master plan is 80% complete and will be available for town meeting. The next steps from an architectural point of view include getting some hard estimates, construction documents, investigating the feasibility of the bridge and the submerged sea wall that will hold the walkway in place along the beach. The pavilions will need to be
designed by a registered architect and permitting will be required from both the Conservation Commission and the State.
Mr. Edmundson expressed concern whether the proposal is ripe. There is no master plan yet therefore there has been no chance to react. A project would be more saleable if more time were spent talking about it and some private funds were raised to offset some of the cost. Mr. Riley said his problem with this is that it is piecemeal - the master plan is not available and there is no information about beyond Whitney Wharf. Mr. Riley said that although a comprehensive overall plan for the harbor that may include a walkway but he does not think the Committee is there yet. Ms. Tully agreed that this proposal is premature noting that the it presumes an acceptance of a master plan that hasn't been seen. There should have been some presentation to the Selectmen if there were public properties being considered for this. There should be a public airing of the master plan before going forward. Ms. Talmage said the rest of the Community Preservation Committee is fully in support of going forward right now. This is not a new idea - the 1978 open space plan called for a harbor walk. Ms. Talmage encouraged the Board to support this rather than let a whole year go without the design work being done.
Voted - not to recommend the amount of $118,000 for design and permitting of the harbor walk.
Bare Cove Park
The Bare Cove Park Committee has submitted a proposal for phase two of the funding for the demolition of buildings and foundations in the park. This proposal, if approved, will not remove every derelict structure in the park but it will take out the more prominent structures and foundations in the park. Approximately 18 months ago the Bare Cove Park Committee approached the CPC for an appropriation of over $700,000 for the removal of 11 buildings. Things turned out to be more complicated than anticipated. The engineering company produced a set of plans for bidding but felt that there might not be enough money to do seven buildings, it might be more like 5 buildings. In hopes that there would be a phase two of this project the engineering firm was asked to include other buildings in order to have one comprehensive plan. Some structures will be demolished in place, the concrete crushed and then covered over. This demolition will be useful in restoring the wildlife habitat to what it once was. The Community Preservation Committee was quite specific that the costs are for demolition and remediation so the Town won't be in the situation that happened last fall. A professional engineer has looked at the whole project and determined that asbestos roof shingles contaminated 9 of the 14 sites identified for work. There were two sites where the contractor who demolished the buildings removed the structural steel and left the contaminated mess.
Voted - in support of the expenditure of Community Preservation Funds in the amount of $577,000 for the Bare Cove Park Phase II project.
The Scotland Street house, which was funded at last year's Annual Town Meeting for acquisition by the Housing Authority, did not pass the Title V test. The existing system can be used for up to two years until it is replaced. The Community Preservation Committee recommends funding the project this year.
Voted - to support the amount of $33,000 for replacement of the septic system at Scotland Street for housing.
The Community Preservation Act allows up to 5% each year for administrative costs such as staff, evaluations, etc. Ms. Talmage said that the Committee has transferred money for this purpose every second year instead of every year. This year the Committee is including sufficient funds to allow for some hours for a part time administrator.
Voted - to support $60,000 in administrative costs set aside.
Ms. Tully suggested the Committee consider putting sunset clauses in some of these articles so that after a two-year process unspent funds would revert to the Community Preservation Fund.
Wireless Communication Article
Mr. Cristello explained that the proposed warrant article would limit the DAS system to major roadways that way there would be some limitations. This by-law would prevent the construction of new towers if there were capacity on an existing tower or DAS system. He pointed out there will likely be more tinkering with the language before the next meeting and, hopefully, this will get the Town to the point where we want to be - an alternative to towers.
An easement is necessary to complete the deal with Mr. Hastings. The field house on the Beal Street Fields is going to tie into the sewer line, which is private. The cost sharing will be based on water usage.
Voted - to sign a Sewer Easement and Cost-Sharing Agreement with the Trustees of Beal's Cove Village Condominium Trust and the Back River Land LLC.
Voted - to grant a temporary liquor license to Paul Hart for a fundraiser to be held at the South Shore Country Club on March 10, 2007.
Selectmen/Town Administrator's Reports
Ms. Tully advised she had taken a tour of the fire station and great progress is being made. The tracking is down for where the walls are going to be. She is also continuing to meet with HDIC regarding the tunnel cap. Ms. Tully noted that the Beal, West and North Street intersection is quite a mess in the morning Mr. Edmundson noted that the governor has filed his budget that includes higher school aid for Hingham which is apparently due to increasing enrollment. Mr. Cristello reported that the benchmarking meeting is scheduled for tomorrow morning in Lexington. The Fourth of July Parade Committee has been distributing "Save the Date" pens..
Meeting adjourned 9:55 p.m.
Betty Foley, Clerk