Owl Pellet: Which CPC Requests Are Heading to Town Meeting
On Monday night, March 21, the hard-working volunteers of our Community Preservation Committee (their charge can be seen here) met with other hard-working volunteers and employees in town to decide which CPC funding requests would move forward to Annual Town Meeting in May. Spoiler alert: Memorial Pool is not one. Two of the seven requests were deferred to await further information and community meetings, respectively. In addition (or really subtraction), two of the remaining five that will move forward are being placed on the consent agenda, which is a great relief to those of us who find Town Meeting about an hour too long (zzzzzzz, farmer’s daughter here).
The seven applicants for funding were asked by the CPC to present as they would present at Town Meeting, where they are given very limited time (5 minutes) to present their story. Folks, we are dead meat. Let’s hope some slides get offed before now and then.
Now as you all know, an Owl Pellet is when I summarize a meeting. It is not official minutes; it is my editorialized and summarized notes from when I was not napping during proceedings, nor interrupted by various Owlet “emergencies” involving “where are my pants?” (don’t ask) or “I’m hungry.” The full meeting was caught on tape by the amazing Weston Media Center which has a spiffy new site. You can find the recording here.
Here is a screenshot of the agenda, which is also available in its entirety here. Try to overlook where “business” is spelled wrong. I spell stuff wrong all the time.
Let’s pellet it, shall we?
Case Park phase 2 for $42,000.
We all know about Case Park, right? Triangle in between Wellesley and School Streets, has the Scout House at the umm, is that the hypotenuse? Sorry, mathys, I’m too far away from it and it turns out I don’t care. The idea is to make it even more beautiful after Phase I this spring…oh wait, phase I is next spring 2023 because supply chain issues with plants. So phase II is spring 2024 planting. Wow. The Owlets will be juniors in HS at that point. Well, they wouldn’t use it anyway–no soccer field. CPC approved this one going to Town Meeting (unanimous) and it will be in the Consent Agenda.
Support for Regional Housing Services office for $39,000 (it is stated as $38K on the agenda but corrected in the meeting).
This is to pay for help for the affordable housing group for affordable projects in town. Apparently, services have been funded since 2011 and everyone is happy with it. The $39,000 will cover needs for the next year. CPC approved this one going to Town Meeting (unanimous) and it will be in the Consent Agenda.
Affordable Home Ownership Opportunity Funds for $1 million.
The AHOOF acronym is not working for me so this is now the Homeownership Program. It’s a private-public partnership that is trying to fund scattered small-scale developments that fit into neighborhoods (i.e., not Whoppers). Zero (0) Wellesley Street is one of these, but I will say for not the first time that Zero Wellesley needs to be re-branded. Who wants to live in a zero? Not me. Call it Wellesley Quartier or something Frenchy and we’ve leveled up. The $1 million ask is to replenish an existing fund. Of note is that Fin Comm voted against this one because they find the cost per unit too high. Honestly, what do we expect? Smaller places cost more per unit but they do not look like Whoppers with high walls and other issues. I discount Fin Comm’s opinion. You do you. CPC approved this one going to Town Meeting (unanimous).
669 Boston Post Road Preservation Restriction for $306,000. Holy moly. Anyway, this is requesting funding for a preservation restriction on the house on BPR at Warren Avenue. It is red, and has a carriage house that definitely is about to keel over but it turns out that it was built by Andrew Jones who was, wait for it…the grandson of Isaac Jones of the Golden Ball Tavern. I knew it!! A Loyalist red house! Oh fine, I’m kidding but it’s old like late1800s but seriously needs landscaping which is not part of this request. If approved by the town, there would still have to be acceptance of a restriction by the current owner of the house. Everyone is hopeful. CPC approved this one going to Town Meeting (unanimous).
Merriam Village Siding and Envelope Project for $195,000.
Okay so take this one with a grain of salt because I am a huge fan of anything Merriam and have more than a little bit of a crush on the Merriam Village. As most folks know, this is a senior housing development built in 1977 and added on to in 1995 and is income-restricted. The request is for money to preserve the 10 cottages around the site which are in some significant disrepair and the beasties are starting to come in from the fields and find warm places to sleep.
It would be a public-private partnership–while Merriam Village does have some budget, the project would zero them out pretty much. This one caused a surprising amount of discussion–the worry being that if CPA funds were used to “rehabilitate” this development, there would be future requests to repair say someone’s back staircase or something. I don’t get this argument. One still can use that most magnificent of words: “no” to frivolous requests. Save Merriam Village. I will wear my t-shirt to town meeting. CPC approved this one going to Town Meeting with two dissenting votes.
Memorial Pool Renovation for $2.3 million.
Now, this was a long presentation, and frankly, it’s a big deal. Memorial Pool is the largest or one of the largest pools in all of the state. Cool. And yet revenues are declining and so we need toys. Big toys and spash pads and sand and new fences and shade in addition to new filters which is the boring stuff. The Owl has covered all of this before in its early iterations. I’m not doing it again. I have a LIFE, people. In any case, the Permanent Building Committee was not in favor of this going to Town Meeting this spring because the design is not fully done. I don’t know how Fin Comm feels about it, I may have zoned out. No bids have been received on it yet so it all seemed a bit premature. CPC deferred this one to Special Town Meeting in the fall, and I believe that was a unanimous decision or maybe one dissent. Watch the video tape.
Additional Apartments at Brook School Apartments for $250,000.
A presentation (almost 19 minutes long) was made about the possibility of 14 new affordable units being added. The ask is for pre-development costs of siting and design and stuff. The development costs of the actual apartments has been estimated at $6.9 million, which was noted as being $492,000 per unit. Yep that’s the costs these days–frankly it wasn’t that much cheaper 15 years ago when you note the time value of money. Yes, I did pay attention in economics class. In any case, many neighbors were at the CPC meeting and they are not pleased for many reasons including the fact that they think the site is not big enough to handle more traffic, cars, etc. I will say that the light on School/Route 20 backs up cars to the public library most afternoons from 4 pm-6 pm. Ask me how I know. So adding more cars to the north-south axis is not great there. Dear Weston, we need to start prioritizing north-south traffic over east-west pretty soon or we might as well just chop Weston in two (we get Heirloom, southsiders, take that) and call it a day. That light sucks. Ooops, digression. Bottom line: $250K is a lot for design when the community is not yet on board. CPC deferred this one to Special Town Meeting as well.
So that’s it, Weston. I have now summed up 4.5 hours of CPC meetings for you. If you want the real story, get some popcorn and watch the video.
14 units of affordable housing at Brook School will not add much traffic. That’s not a good reason to object. Whereas the Whopper will add…how many cars??? And many unaffordable units. Plus all the other issues like flooding.
Wish we were in safe harbor. I do like the small developments.
Whenever Weston’s Traffic Problem is mentioned, it is my duty to comment. (It’s my side-gig.) Unfortunately, the presence or absence of 14 additional apartments won’t do much for your painful commute on School Street (I’m often stuck in the same backup), that’s because Traffic is a regional problem. The 14 or 28 people who would be living in those future apartments would be living somewhere else if not Weston, maybe, Wayland, Sudbury, Wellesley, Lincoln, who knows. Some would be driving through Weston (and Wayland, Sudbury,….) to get wherever they are going. On average, the amount of regional traffic doesn’t change, unless those 14/18 people decide to move to Phoenix instead. (BTW, only a fraction of the cars on Weston Roads are actually Westonians, around 20% I read somewhere.) So, what is the solution? Regionally, convince more people to move to Phoenix, convince more people to live closer to where they work and shop, or somehow get more cars off the area roads by providing alternatives.
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