SHIRLEY -- Town Administrator Patrice Garvin shared some good news in her report to selectmen Aug. 11: The Legislature overturned the governor's veto of the Department of Corrections budget, with annual "mitigation" allotments to communities that host state prisons.
That means the elusive MCI mitigation money Shirley was counting on but didn't get this year will be coming after all, she said.
Garvin also told selectmen she'd attended the War Memorial Building Trustees meeting earlier that evening and had discussed "sticking points" the trustees raised when selectmen signed a rental lease with American Legion Post 183, the building tenant.
Specifically, Chairwoman Theresa Richards said the trustees sought to clarify two "confusing" terms in the lease: "Care and Custody," which is the trustees' charge and the selectmen's "Control" of the town-owned building. She called for clear definitions that spell out the difference. They also wanted Town Meeting to decide if the building is a war memorial or not, Garvin said.
To that end, the trustees asked to have an article inserted on the fall Town Meeting warrant. But Garvin said she feared that might cause confusion rather than clear it up.
Rather than field an open-ended question on Town Meeting floor, Garvin wants to find another way to work through the issue with the War Memorial board, she said.
The point was timely as selectmen opened the warrant that night for the fall Town Meeting, set for Nov. 10. Those with potential articles they want selectmen to place on the warrant may now submit them, they said.
The trustees, preempting the process, gave selectmen a heads-up at a previous meeting but haven't forwarded an article yet. Garvin is hoping that won't happen, she said.
Apparently on hold for now, the War Memorial Board warrant article initiative will likely resurface if selectmen and the trustees can't hammer out a compromise on the lease language issue, which in the trustees' view is key to defining their role.
Selectmen as sole gatekeepers of the Town Meeting warrant can decline to put an article on it, but if they do, proponents have the option of doing so themselves via citizens' petition. Garvin acknowledged the trustees' right to do so in this case but said she's still aiming for another resolution.
In other business, selectmen held two public hearings during Monday night's meeting that took less than 15 minutes, total.
The first was for a utility pole National Grid plans to erect on Benjamin Road. Company representative Iris Price explained that a contractor building a house at a designated spot and planning to install underground utilities needs a pole "on his side of the road." Selectmen unanimously approved the request.
Next came a hearing for tree removal at two separate locations but nobody came to talk about either one so the selectmen simply read the paperwork aloud and voted unanimously to go ahead on both.
The first request was from a property owner on Horse Pond Road who asked permission to remove three pine trees from the town buffer zone at his boundary to make way for a new building.
The second request came from DPW foreman and Tree Warden Paul Farrar, who asked to remove a decayed and dying tree in front of the Lura A. White School on Lancaster Road. The tree is a hazard, according to Chairman David Swain, who said the dying tree often drops big branches on the ground below.
Selectmen unanimously approved both requests.
School Committee Chairwoman Joyce Reischutz, who had come to introduce new ASRSD Superintendent Dr. Mary Malone to the board, wanted to know if tree removal might impede school traffic if it occurs after school starts on Sept. 2. She also asked if the school had been notified that the tree was slated to come down.
A sign has been posted on the tree, she was told, with removal in the next two weeks.