The Community Preservation Committee agreed to send letters to Town Manager Norman Khumalo before his departure in January asking for information about grant budget expenditures, his transition plans concerning who would negotiate land deals, and updates of ongoing appraisals along with forwarding of prior-year appraisal results.
The committee hopes to meet with Khumalo in executive session to discuss these matters in January.
During its Tuesday night meeting, the committee also agreed to send a letter to Select Board chair Muriel Kramer asking how the CPC should “proceed to carry out the vote of Town Meeting” regarding a segment of the Upper Charles Trail from Hopkinton State Park to East Main Street.
“We’re in a state of limbo until your committee is functioning again,” CPC chair Ken Weismantel said to Jane Moran.
Moran is chair of the Upper Charles Trail Committee (UCTC), which Town Meeting voted to disband last May and reformulate as a subcommittee under the Hopkinton Trails Coordination and Management Committee. While the vote was not legally binding, the Select Board subsequently decided to suspend the UCTC while concerns were addressed.
Moran explained that the committee could not meet because of the suspension but is “still there, still alive.”
Several of the other projects to be funded by CPC are either delayed or on hold. Hearing updates comprised most of the hour-long meeting.
Under Parks & Recreation, for example, vice chair Eric Sonnett reported the turf prep at the lacrosse wall was completed, while the pickleball/tennis courts project has an expected completion date of May 15.
Tasks done include paving of courts and lots, installation of footings for fences, and work on surrounding trees and water retention basins.
Sonnett noted that seal coats would have to wait until warmer weather.
He said that new Parks & Recreation Director Jon Lewitus has been on the job a few months and “is ready to run with projects and doing a great job.” However, Sonnett said the department has been short-staffed for many months, and there are some things the director has not been able to address yet.
The director will be working with the town’s procurement officer to add security cameras at Sandy Beach and Fruit Street, with the hope of completion by summer, Sonnett said.
Work on bathrooms at EMC Park is on hold because of the skate park project and drainage issues behind the baseball fields. There is a question on timing because Hopkinton Little League uses the fields from mid-April to the end of July, and having the construction process during that time would be challenging.
Sonnett said contractor Artisan Skateparks noted Hopkinton is on its “warmer season build list,” and it is under contract to complete the project in 2024.
He reported the Conservation Commission gave permission for the boat ramp project at Sandy Beach on Lake Maspenock, and the director got pre-approval for a Channel 91 water way simplified license. A next step is for the Parks & Rec director to communicate with vendor FWM Docks, which remains committed to doing the project by the end of June 2024.
A discussion was held about the need for a shade structure at the Fruit Street dog park, with Sonnett saying it is meant to be a place where people throw balls and Frisbees to their dogs and stay only a short time.
“Do we need a permanent structure or a poles and sails system?” he asked. “Do we need another pagoda-type structure?”
Other members talked about a small pavilion and the maintenance involved putting up and taking down temporary measures.
“I question the need for something so significant when looking for shade during a certain part of the year,” Sonnett added.
In the written update from the Park & Rec department, it was noted the shade structure design would need to be presented to the Parks & Recreation Commission for input. From there, the director would take the agreed-upon design and work with the procurement officer to put out a request for proposal (RFP).
In other business, Weismantel spoke on recent flooding at the Historical Society’s building, saying that accompanying photos only exemplify a request by that organization for a grant to preserve and protect historical documents there.
He said the photos would be helpful when that organization makes a presentation before Town Meeting next spring for funding of drainage solutions.
Members also talked about a letter from Michael Roughan, chair of the Hopkinton Historical Commission, asking to schedule a ribbon cutting for Aiken’s Park (which connects to Hopkinton State Park) before Khumalo’s departure so he could be present.
He said that about 50 feet of granite curbing is still left to be laid. Roughan suggested the hiring of Scott Currin to finish that task before the end of January.
The committee also voted to approve its town report with a few wording changes.
Communities can opt to add a surcharge to real estate taxes under the Community Preservation Act (CPA). At least 10 percent of the funding raised must be allocated among open space, historic preservation and affordable housing projects, according to the state website. The remaining 70 percent can be allocated to any of these categories, as well as recreation.