At its meeting Tuesday night, the Select Board considered a resident’s request for a town-sponsored display at Town Hall to show support for Ukraine, but members ultimately did not more forward after questions were raised about the town taking a political stance.
Brendan Tedstone said he is “totally in support of the Ukraine,” but was concerned such a move could set a dangerous precedent.
“I don’t know anybody who’s not in favor of showing our solidarity toward Ukraine,” he said. “But as a town and as a board, do we make political statements in town? … I hate to be that guy that’s dropping the anchor, but right now the board is amenable to this, which is certainly a socially acceptable thing. What happens if in six months there might be a new composition of the board and something else comes up and it’s offensive. I want to see what our position is on making official political statements through the town.”
Town Manager Norman Khumalo agreed that such a statement could lead to future concerns but noted: “The board does not have a policy in place to guide this decision making.”
Chair Irfan Nasrullah said he would support a resident or private group organizing a rally or other show of support for the embattled nation, which has been under attack from neighboring Russia.
“I just don’t want to be taking sides,” Nasrullah said. “Personally, I have chosen a side, and that’s the Ukraine, it’s a no-brainer. But on behalf of the town I think we have to take a step back and say, ‘Should the town make this political statement?’ ”
Amy Ritterbusch suggested a show of support for refugees might be more appropriate. But in the end, the board took no action on the request.
Town to hire law firm for PFAS
The Select Board unanimously approved a request from the town manager to sign a retainer agreement with the law firm of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC for “evaluation, advice and prosecution of all available legal claims against any and all parties, individuals and/or corporations that may be liable under the law for injuries and/or property damages suffered by the town arising out of the contamination of water supplies” by PFAS and similar substances.
Khumalo said town counsel recommended approval of the agreement, noting that the firm has “the institutional capacity to work on this new and emerging issue.”
Khumalo also noted that Napoli Shkolnik PLLC will not receive payment from the town “unless there is successful recovery.“
Asked about how the firm would determine who was responsible for the contamination, Khumalo said he was hesitant to divulge the strategy, but he did reveal, “The focus is going to be on the manufacturers.”
Misc.: COVID news positive
Health Director Shaun McAuliffe, in his COVID-19 update, said the numbers continue to move in the right direction, despite a couple of recent hiccups. He also noted that following three local COVID-related deaths in January, there have been no serious illnesses or deaths in town in February or March.
“What we’re seeing is that we’re fluctuating, but the general trend is that we’re improving,” he said.
He encouraged residents to continue to exercise caution. …
Planning Board Chair Gary Trendel presented results of a pedestrian connectivity survey that was conducted last year. The objective of the web-based survey was to understand the preferences and needs that walkers, runners and bikers consider to be priorities. Trendel reported that respondents were strongly in favor of more sidewalks and trails. …
Ann Click and Pat O’Brien from Friends of Hopkinton checked in to promote the Family Fling, a new event that will be held at the Town Common on March 26 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.