News Briefs: Main Street project takes next steps

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Main Street project takes next steps

The Select Board voted Feb. 25 to approve sending offer letters to abutters of the Main Street Corridor Project.

The letters, which were slated to be sent out in late February, include the amount of compensation abutters will receive for easements along with instructions and requirements to receive payment. Property owners have 30 days to consider the offer letter, ask questions and seek clarification.

Town manager Norman Khumalo presented two versions of the letter to the Select Board. One included an option for residents to donate property. This was a point of contention in the past, as some abutters who were angry about the process expressed dismay that the town would include a donation request, and they were supported by at least one Select Board member.

“We do understand that in previous meetings, member Brian Herr stated strongly that he was opposed to the donation option,” Khumalo said. “However we are recognizing that there are entities that have already offered to donate their properties and that’s why we included that option.”

The Select Board voted 4-0 (Herr was absent) to approve sending the version of the letter that included the donation option.

The total easement compensation budget was set at $1.6 million, and it was approved unanimously as well.

The Select Board is next scheduled to take action on the easement acquisition process at its April 7 meeting.

The town also offered other updates on the project. Among them were:

— The 100 percent design plans were submitted to MassDOT on Feb. 3.

— Final appraisals were delivered to MassDOT’s community compliance officer on Feb. 14.

— A meeting was held with fire and police to discuss emergency preparedness, traffic management and potential schedule for construction operations.

— A review was done to lessen the impacts of the project on properties at 25-35 Main St. and 77 Main St.

— Sign clutter was reduced by minimizing on-street parking signage (providing signs only where parking limited to 10 minutes) and placing street signs on street light poles where possible.

Girl Scouts recognized

Girl Scouts (front, from left) Sabrina Russo, Holly Thompson, Ava Pappalardo and Charlotte Schuster pose with Select Board members (back, from left) Brendan Tedstone, Mary Jo LaFreniere and Irfan Nasrullah at the Feb. 25 Select Board meeting.
PHOTO/CHRISTINE STRICKLAND

Eighth-graders Ava Pappalardo, Sabrina Russo, Charlotte Schuster and Holly Thompson made a presentation to the Select Board at its Feb. 25 meeting. The Girl Scouts’ Silver Award project focuses on fostering an “Attitude of Gratitude” at Hopkinton Middle School and in the community.

“Our goal with this project is to teach the Hopkinton community about physical and emotional benefits from having a grateful heart, with special attention given to the Hopkinton Middle School,” Russo explained.

Among the girls’ efforts were to set up an information table at Back to School Night, post fliers with “gratitude facts” throughout the middle school, place 1,000 inspirational notes on school lockers, host a table at Hopkinton’s MLK Day of Service for people to write thank you notes to friends, family and teachers, offer gratitude workshops for Grades K-5 in the Children’s Room at the Hopkinton Public Library (March 16, 23 and 30), and create a permanent “appreciation station” at the middle school where students can write to friends or teachers.

The Select Board lauded the girls for their efforts promoting a positive attitude and requested to borrow the group’s project poster to be temporarily displayed at Town Hall.

“We need a lot more of that [positive attitude] right now,” Mary Jo LaFreniere said.

Tribute paid to Pyne

Longtime resident Francis Pyne passed away last month at the age of 80. Pyne had served as a volunteer firefighter in town for more than 50 years.

“He was just one of the most wonderful guys I ever met,” Select Board chair Brendan Tedstone said. “I happen to be related to him, but he was far more of a friend to me than he was a relative. He is one of the guys that to me epitomized what Hopkinton used to be. It didn’t matter if he was in church or if he was at the liquor store, as soon as the call went out for the fire department for a fire or an ambulance or an alarm, no matter what he was doing he’d jump in his old step-side pickup truck and come on up.”

Added Tedstone: “He was a man that not just I but most in town looked up to for his ability to see the forest through the trees.”

Retiring librarian recognized

Hopkinton Public Library senior assistant Toni Alexander, who is retiring after 31 years working for the town, was recognized at the Feb. 25 Select Board meeting.

“I’ve known Toni for the vast majority of my life,” Select Board chair Brendan Tedstone said. “She is absolutely an awesome person, a great asset to the town. The town will severely miss having her around. … Thank you very much for 31 years of service.”

The HPL also announced that library assistant Donna Olafsen and substitute Maureen Belger left to pursue permanent positions elsewhere. Joining the staff are part-time library assistants Kristen Webb, who had been working as a sub, Cailin Chenelle, who moves over from the Bolton Library, and Erin Bassler, who had been at the Wellesley Library. Additionally, Ann Marie Speicher shifted from substitute reference librarian into a permanent part-time position.

Hopkin10K rescheduled to April 11

The Hopkinton Running Club’s Hopkin10K road race, originally scheduled for Dec. 7, will be held Saturday, April 11, starting at 9 a.m.

“As you remember, the one big snowstorm we had this year was about a week before the race was supposed to happen,” race director Wayde Marshall told the Select Board at its Feb. 25 meeting. “Earlier in the week we talked to the Police Department, we had them drive the course and give us their opinion. As you know, the roads [around Lake Whitehall] are pretty narrow back there anyway. So with the snow banks and the ice conditions, we made the choice to postpone the race.”

The board approved the group’s parade permit and temporary alcohol license.

The race, which starts at Victory Field on Fruit Street, is held in memory of Andy Welzel, and proceeds fund the Andy Welzel Pay it Forward Scholarship.

Sewer system needs residents’ cooperation

Hopkinton’s Water and Sewer Department reached out to residents to ask for help in maintaining the sewer system. The department’s press release noted that a sewer system maintains a delicate biological balance to help ensure proper levels of gases, oxygen, pH and metals, along with the output of elements such as phosphorus, nitrogen and nitrates.

The key message was that the sewer system should not be used as a disposal system for trash, paints, oils, grease, fats, gasoline or other hazardous and flammable chemicals.

“Even water base latex paint can disrupt sewer alarms and clog measuring equipment,” the release stated. “No rags, plastics, clothing or other foreign matter should be flushed. Please be advised that there is no such thing as a ‘flushable wipe.’ These do not break down and along with rags and diapers cause pumps to clog. We are noticing a substantial increase in these objects and are responding more frequently to pump clogs and failures and plugged house services causing backups. Not only can these materials cause damage to the pumps and piping but they pose an immediate risk to sewer personnel through chemical interaction and the formation of explosive gases. These materials will also pose major problems for the treatment plant.

“In addition, it is illegal to pipe gutters, drains or sump pumps into the sewer system. This can cause excessive flow during heavy rains and could cause backups in your home. If you need help relocating your sump discharge from the sewer system, please give us a call and we will come out and help you find an alternative.

“For those people that have a grinder pump installed, please read the information that came with the pump. A garbage disposal should not be used if you have a grinder pump and no foreign material should be flushed. Glass, metals, seafood shells, eggshells and any other abrasives should be avoided as they can cause damage to the pump. Please ensure that your pump alarms are on and functioning properly.”

For more information, check the town’s website at hopkintonma.gov.

Board of Health updates tobacco regulations

At the Hopkinton Board of Health’s hearing on Feb. 10, two new tobacco regulations were adopted, both to become effective March 16.

The first states that any permit not renewed either because a retailer no longer sells tobacco products or closes the business will be returned to the Hopkinton Board of Health and permanently retired, and the total allowable number of tobacco product sales permits will be reduced by that number.

The second states that the Hopkinton Board of Health will require a license, costing $100 per year, for the sale of all e-cigarette licenses. This is separate from the $100 annual license for the sale of cigarettes, chew, snuff, cigar products and other non-electric products.

Sidewalk survey underway

The Hopkinton Planning Board is undertaking a survey of residents’ opinions regarding future sidewalk improvements in town, to help the board understand the community’s goals. The brief survey is available online at forms.gle/NyVtmt4Z43TTeZJbA. Hard copies of the survey are available at the Town Clerk’s Office, the Hopkinton Public Library and the Senior Center.

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