HARVARD -- Selectmen at their meeting last Friday morning reviewed the latest draft of the annual Town Meeting warrant with an eye to determining which of the 55 articles would make the final cut.
Town Administrator Tim Bragan provided details on several highlighted items, including the last two on the list, forwarded by the Hildreth House Improvement Committee and the Council on Aging, and requesting a total of $170,000.
The HHIC article calls for $158,000 for "detail design" of the proposed building project and the COA asked for $12,000 to repair the parking lot.
HHIC member Connie Larrabee urged the selectmen to put the articles on the warrant. The committee hopes to get "some amount" of development money to further analyze and "stage" the proposed project, she said, with safety-related items first on the to-do list.
Explaining the HHIC request, Larrabee said the money is needed to get site plan opinions from the engineering firm, GPR, and perhaps some input from the architects. She added that the committee aims to have a finalized plan and a firm figure to present at the April 1 ATM, although they don't have that information now.
The current renovation/addition plan calls for a $4 million makeover of the stately old manse on the hill behind Town Hall. Formerly the summer home of the Hildreth Family, it has been for some time a town-owned building whose rooms provide meeting venues but whose main purpose is to house COA headquarters and serve as a Senior Center.
The Finance Committee inserted a $15,000 article to pay for seasonal mowing. FinCom recommends funding seasonal mowing "outside the budget' because it's a one-time expense," Bragan explained.
DPW Director Richard Nota has said that hiring a part-time, seasonal worker to finish up a town-wide drive to cut roadside brush and weeds would free up his crew for other projects.
FinCom made no recommendation on an article seeking to amend the Capital Planning and Investment bylaw under which the CPIC operates, changing its projected viewshed from three to five years and upping the project benchmark from $10,000 to $20,000. The new guidelines would allow more flexibility in its long-term planning, Bragan said.
Some of the proposed money articles Bragan highlighted for review are being forwarded as debt-exclusion items, which require follow-up ballot questions and call for two-thirds votes by selectmen to pass, including $115,000 to replace concrete stoops and walkways at Town Hall; $160,000 to purchase a front-end loader for the DPW; and $3,700 to fund ongoing work on the Hildreth House renovation and addition plan. This was the "original article" submitted to the CPIC, Bragan said, while the two other HH articles came in after the review deadline.
Bragan also told the board that the roster of zoning amendment articles in the draft would likely be short by one in the final version. Submitted by the Economic Development Committee, the article in question seeks "re-zoning for a grocery store" in the Ayer Road commercial district. The problem is "there's no language" for the article, Bragan explained, and since nobody seems to be working on it, the article won't be on the warrant selectmen see Monday night.
Monday night's meeting would be dedicated to approving the warrant, Bragan said, and selectmen will decide then whether or not to include the two Hildreth House articles.