Know the Issues: Town Meeting this Saturday
Weston Town Meeting will most likely be held this Saturday, May 15–while rain seemed imminent earlier this week, chances are now good that the town can move forward with the original date. By now, all registered voters of Weston should have received and read their Warrant Book, and be familiar with the issues. Saturday will also mark the official changing of the guard for some town positions, as the newly elected volunteers take over from those stepping down.
Because Town Meeting will be held outdoors at Proctor Field, there will be no visual presentations on that day. This means that residents are responsibl for educating themselves before heading out to the 50-yard line. Yes, Weston, you have homework. Lucky for you, both the Town and Weston Media have made it easy for you. And the Owl is going to make it easier still–both of these sources are much more objective than the Owl. See the town website here. The following is a summary of the Warrant Book and Town Meeting, through the very sharp and unblinking eyes of the Owl.
First up is the Budget Book. While tempting to skip the first 38 pages of the Warrant Book due to the complexity of the numbers and the “he said/she said” nature of Finance Committee vs School Committee, it’s at the crux of all things Weston. To summarize, Fin Com, the self-described “watchdog” of Weston shows again that School budget is more than 60% of the town budget, and 80% of town costs are personnel costs. You can see Lisa Reitano explain the written report here on Weston Media. Then Select Board goes through all the stuff we have, and should have, in the Town. And starting from page 28, the School Committee defends the expense of running our excellent school system. Let’s say it as it is, Weston, that no one moves to Weston because of the vibrant downtown. John Henry gives an overview of the operating budget here on Weston Media.
Next up in the Warrant Book is the report of the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) including their recommendations for funding. Only one item was not unanimously recommended which is the Ash Street sidewalk, which got through CPC on a majority vote. You can learn more about the CPC report here on Weston Media.
Now we’ve moved along to the Consent Agenda. This is the part when you begin to hope that Articles 3-21 will be voted on all at once and you can get home to watch the Premier League game, or at least your kid’s fifth soccer game of the weekend. But do not get too excited–there will be a vote on whether certain items will be pulled out to vote on separately. The Consent Agenda as a whole is presented by Select Board Member Chris Houston here, while Article 21 about Legacy trees is the only one with a separate video here. Anyone opposed to preserving these Case trees will have their Owl subscription revoked. Yes, the Owl covered the trees, too.
Article 22 covers the HS/MS Campus Master Plan study. While this has gained some notoriety as being the article where a field house and giant Olympic pool complex is proposed for Weston, this is not in fact accurate. Mostly this is about renovations, pedestrian safety improvements and maintaining what we’ve already got. Yes, there is feasibility included of making a bigger pool for the entire town, not just the schools. Don’t get crazy, Weston, these are not build fees. You can see Alex Cobb, a member of the Recreation Master Plan Steering Committee, explain it all here.
Article 23 is about the creation of two affordable housing units on Birch Lane. You can see that presentation here on Weston Media or read about it in a prior Owl. Article 24 is the Ash Street sidewalk which apparently has some controversy involved as Fin Com is unanimously opposed to it. Ah well, watch the video with Jay Doyle, Chair of the Traffic & Sidewalk Committee here. The incredibly relevant Weston Owl also covered it back in February. Article 25 is requesting funding to fix up Burchard Park playing fields and bulldoze out the 5000 dog poop bags that have been left there. Only the first part is true. There is no video explanation for this (actually it’s in the CPA presentation above) but not voting for baseball would be unAmerican. Yes, the Owl is getting punchy at this point. You can read more here.
Article 26 is about design fees for the much-loved and very cold Memorial Pool. That is also explained in the CPA video and in the Owl. Next up is Article 27 which is for the much-loved parcels of Case Estates that are learning to have boundaries, and we are voting on them. The Owl is seriously pained by the thought of eventually selling the Case Barn into private hands and will recuse herself from making all the editorial comments she would like to make here. You can see former Selectman Michael Harrity and current Select Board member Laurie Bent explain it here, along with Article 28 and 29 which are “conveyance” articles–more pieces of Case Estates finding new homes.
Articles 30-33 are a beast. This is the so-called “Riverside” development that was covered in the Owl earlier this year, but a lot has changed since that post was written. To clarify, Riverside, in spite of not being on the river but on two major highways may be better known as the former Liberty Mutual property. Included in these Articles are a zoning by-law change for height adjustments of buildings, a trade of land from front to back, a change of usage (to laboratories from insurance, I suppose) and even some possible allowance of residential units at the back of the property. The Owl visited the site with the Planning Board and abutters last week — there is more to be said and explained which is beyond this article’s purview. Riverside will be in the Owl tomorrow.
Article 34 is a Citizen’s Petition to ban the sale of fur products in the town of Weston. You can find out more about it in this video on Weston Media.
Article 100 is a vote on the offiical flavor of ice cream for Weston. It’s down to javaberry vs creamsicle, folks. Things could get ugly. No, not true. I will now get more coffee.
Plan your vote and vote your plan. And bring your cleats–all tie votes will be decided by a massive townwide ultimate frisbee game. See you Saturday, Weston! – Team Creamsicle.