Candidates Preservation Forum: November 2017

Dear Friends,

As you know, we have a special election tomorrow for Selectman, and as is now our custom, the Southborough Historical Society asks the candidates questions relevant to historical preservation in Southborough.  Two responded: Sam Stivers and Doriann Jasinski.

NB: Tomorrow’s voting is at Trottier gym only.


Responses from Sam Stivers:

What is your position on the 61A parcel on Deerfoot Road? Should the voters be allowed to decide whether or not to acquire the parcel at town meeting?
Yes.

Would you support placing the decision on acquiring all future 61A parcels automatically in front of the voters?

I support the preservation of open space in the Town. I believe that there should be a process for consideration of all Chapter 61 parcels (including not just 61A parcels) when the Town has the option to exercise a Right of First Refusal (ROFR). This process could include the Open Space Preservation Commission (OSPC), the Planning Board, the Conservation Commission, the Historical Commission and other Town committees with interests related to this issue, to assess the value of such parcels and determine if the limited resources available for such purchases are aligned with the Town’s prioritization of available properties. In fact, such a process is in the final development stage by the “Chapter 61 Working Group”, and I support this. I do not support “automatic” Town Meeting consideration of purchase of such parcels, as the new Chapter 61 process will provide broadly based expert input to determine which possible acquisitions should go to the voters. Additionally, I support the preservation of open space in the Town via methods other than Chapter 61 ROFR—such as outright purchase of development rights as we did for the Chestnut Hill Farm. The challenge is to find ways to fund these acquisitions.

Study after study has shown that taxes on single family homes don’t cover their cost to the Town, and each new build actually contributes to higher rates for everyone. Given that, what would you propose to limit further development and increase the quality of life for current residents?

The Advisory Committee did such a study several years ago, confirming that additional residential development likely results in a net cost to the Town. Because development is largely controlled by the Town’s zoning bylaws (managed by the Planning Board), modification of the development process is something that starts with the Planning Board. I support a Planning Board initiative to update the zoning bylaws, which can address growth and other issues. The Selectmen can collaborate with the Planning Board on such an initiative. However, I do not support outright restricting or limiting development. We need to find a balance between preserving what we value in Town – open space and historic resources – while allowing appropriate new development for both residential and commercial uses at a scale and rate that the Town can support. Our Master Plan can provide guidance relative to these questions, and our Master Plan should be revisited and updated as necessary.

Additionally, the Selectmen can help manage the Town’s exposure to “unfriendly” 40B housing projects by smart planning to meet our Housing Plan objectives. Using funds in the Housing Trust Fund and CPA housing reserve accounts (which currently total over a half-million dollars) we can work with developers and/or nonprofits to create “neighborhood friendly” small-scale 40B housing projects so we can meet our housing obligations through a process the Town controls, instead of reacting to developer proposals.

If the majority of home-owners in a particular area of Town favored the creation of an historic district, would this have your support?

I support this concept. I would need to see the specific details before I can support a particular proposal. I strongly favor preserving the Town’s historical qualities that make us uniquely Southborough. That identity adds value to our homes, our community and our businesses.

What other ideas do you have to promote and protect the historic nature of Southborough?

As a Selectmen I will support the Historical Commission and the Planning Board as they develop a plan for historic preservation and priorities.


What plans might you suggest to revitalize the Main Street area economically and aesthetically once the road improvements are done?

The Town could consider creating a zoning overlay district to permit mixed-use structures in the downtown area. This could provide additional commercial/professional space as well as residential use. A key issue related to this process is transportation and parking. If we want to have more businesses and residential development in the downtown area we must consider parking. Towns with vibrant downtowns typically have municipal parking capacity out of the public view but within easy walking distance to downtown businesses. We need to address this issue as part of downtown development.

The Selectmen can also work with the Economic Development Committee to leverage the downtown development work they are doing. 

Finally, with St. Mark’s School becoming an owner (through the Golf Course land arrangement) of property with frontage on Main Street, planning and coordination with St. Mark’s development plan is desirable.

If plans were developed for a cultural corridor linking the Library, the Old Burial Ground, the Museum, the Town House, St Marks church and the cemetery, would you be generally supportive of such an idea?

I support of this concept. I would need to see the specific details of such a proposal before I can support a particular proposal.

The office of selectman is a low-paid, demanding, and time-consuming position, which often requires attendance not only at selectmen’s meetings, but also at meetings of other boards and committees. Recently, it has been noticed that a certain member of the Board has had an unusually high absentee rate, which obviously is not ideal. Are there any factors that would limit your commitment of time and energy to the Board of Selectmen?

No. My record of attendance at over 100 Town committee meetings each year demonstrates my commitment to devote the time necessary to fulfill my Town obligations. I will continue to devote the time to meet my responsibilities as a Selectman.

 

Responses from Doriann Jasinski:

What is your position on the 61A parcel on Deerfoot Road? Should the voters be allowed to decide whether to acquire the parcel at town meeting?

My position on the Deerfoot property is simply this: the voters should decide whether they want to purchase the property.  I would also hope that the voters take into thoughtful consideration how the neighbors feel about the purchase by the Town.

Would you support placing the decision on acquiring all future 61A parcels automatically in front of voters?

I don’t believe that placing any restriction on future 61A properties is a good idea. I do believe that the taxpayers have the right to vote on whether they want to assume the tax liability for the purchases. The value of all 61A properties are not the same and need to be looked at on an individual basis.

 Study after study has shown that taxes on single family homes don’t cover their cost to the Town and each new build contributes to higher taxes for everyone. Given that, what would you propose to limit further development and increase the quality of life for current residents?

I would not limit development for several reasons.  First, development helps us meet our future needs as a community. It provides jobs which help boost our economy.  Property owners have the right to develop their land as they wish, providing they follow our town by-laws.  I am against taking away property owner rights or stopping development.

Southborough loves its Open Space. One way to increase the quality of life for current residents is to value our Open Space.  Communities need open space to provide passive recreational areas such as walking trails.  I am in favor of protecting our Open Space and purchasing more as time goes on to help enhance the charm and character of our Town.  Our Open Space Commission is a very productive group of individuals who have a prioritized list of parcels for future purchases which would enhance our community.

If the majority of home owners in a particular area of town favored the creation of an historic district, would this have your support?

I would absolutely be in favor in the creation of a historic district in our Town.

What other ideas do you have to promote and protect the historic nature of Southborough?

First, I believe we need to educate the residents about the rich history of our Town.  Many people don’t know the history of Southborough.  When we were considering the details of the Burnett House purchase, that is when the history was given.  I would suggest having an annual town wide get together to promote the rich history of Southborough.  Having interactive games and maybe have the children do a play of some sort would make it fun for people of all ages to attend.

What plans might you suggest to revitalize the Main Street area economically and aesthetically once the road improvements are done?

We do need to revitalize our downtown to help promote business for the existing businesses there.  The Economic Development Committee just completed a survey to ask people what they wanted in their downtown area.  The results are detailed as listed below:

90% want more restaurants; 67% want more retail shops.  Aesthetics are important and the Downtown “feel” is essential.  Historic buildings, signage and markers are highly valued.  People want more “public spaces”.

Personally, I would agree that all the above are important and needs a closer look at how to get this done without a major impact on all our taxes.  Better landscaping, benches, adding flowers and containers with plantings is also an idea to add charm to the downtown.  The Southborough Gardeners may be able to help with this idea.

If plans were developed for a cultural corridor linking the Library, the Old Burial Ground, the Museum, the Town House, St Marks Church and the Cemetery, would you be generally supportive of such an idea?

Yes, I would be supportive of that idea.  The area is such an important piece of “Southborough Charm” which we all love and appreciate.

The Office of Selectmen is a low-paid, demanding and time-consuming position, which often requires attendance not only at Selectmen’s meetings, but also at meetings of other boards and committees. Recently, it has been noticed that a certain member of the Board has had an unusually high absentee rate, which obviously is not ideal.  Are there any factors that would limit your commitment of time and energy to the Board of Selectmen?

I have both the time and the energy to get the job done.  I can’t speak for other members of the Board, but I personally have attended the Selectmen’s meetings, a few Conservation, Planning Board, Zoning Board, Personnel Board, Personnel Board Working Group, Public Safety Building, Golf meetings (just to name a few!)

There are no factors which limit my commitment to getting the job done.

History Waits for No Weather

ANDERS ZORN Swedish, (1860-1920) STORM (1891)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

History waits for no weather.

Heritage Day is officially on! Come to the Museum tomorrow October 9 2017 at noon to see the 1868 Falcon fire engine do its stuff, plus view recent acquisitions.

The fun starts at noon!

Heavenly Approbation?

Dear History Friends,

I was working today at the Museum with our wonderful senior assistant, Donna McDaniel, in the extended process of getting our photographic and paper collections organized. Donna (our first woman Selectman back in the day) had left about 20 minutes earlier for one of her two additional engagements in Worcester and Sudbury (in one day, and this lady remembers FDR!!, wow!) when suddenly a storm came up, the skies darkened, and it rained a summer-storm white-out. It was really something: fierce, yet all water. When I looked out the window at the passing, this is what I saw:

How often do you see a rainbow over the Old Burial Ground, where not only our first European settlers, but also our Native American fore-bearers, the Nipmuc Tribe, are buried? Or for that matter, how often do you see a rainbow on the ground, period? In my 52-odd years, this is a first. Unfortunately, Donna, a long time reporter, was not here to witness this event and confirm the viewing, but I assure you this is a real photo, and hopefully a sign of heavenly approbation for our continuing efforts at preserving Southborough’s centuries-old history.

Empty the Trailer Day — Tomorrow Saturday May 13th!

Ladies and Gentlemen of Good Will and Strong Backs:

Tomorrow is empty the trailer day, when we finally return the collection to the Museum. We need five or six more people to help us 9-2ish. Come for any part of this, or the long haul. Work will require carrying boxes, moving furniture etc so volunteers must be able and willing.

Please email me at michael dot weishan at southboroughhistory dot org if you can come, or are nominating a willing child, partner or spouse.

 

Ms. Lisa Braccio Responds to the Candidates Preservation Forum

Given the argument above on the fluidity of Town board makeup, would you commit now to placing a preservation restriction to protect the exterior of Fayville Town Hall before it is sold? If not, why not?
I am in favor of protecting the Historic Fayville Village Hall and believe we can do it in a way that preserves the building and allows the town to receive a fair price for the building and land. Town Meeting has made it clear more than once that protecting this building is a high priority. I will recommend that we work with the Historical Commission to engage the services of a consultant knowledgeable in Historical Properties Real Estate to guide us as we develop the RFP.  I believe that there can be benefit drafting the RFP to include the requirement that a Preservation Restriction be placed on Fayville Hall by the purchaser, which could provide them with tax benefits. These are complicated issues which is why I recommend we engage the services of an expert.

Study after study has shown that taxes on single family homes don’t cover their cost to the Town, and each new build actually contributes to higher rates for everyone. Given that, what would you propose to limit further development and increase the quality of life for current residents?

This is a complicated question –

First, we need development to meet our future as our society and needs change and to provide for a robust economy. Additionally, property owners have a right to full value of their property under our zoning code bylaws. I am not in favor of taking away property rights or curtailing development.

We also know that healthy communities need open space. A recent economic study in Marlborough found that business owners list open space and trails as the number one amenity they are looking for when considering which towns to locate in. Marlborough’s Economic Development Corporation was surprised by this but then moved to help create trails that connected to local businesses and parks.

Open space and a healthy economy can certainly go hand in hand.

As an Open Space Commissioner for 12 years and current Chair I am in favor of protecting the most important open spaces in town. However, we know we can’t afford to protect it all, which is why the Open Space Preservation Commission works on prioritizing which parcels have the most value as open space.

If the majority of home-owners in a particular area of Town favored the creation of an historic district, would this have your support?
Absolutely, Kate Matison spoke in much detail at a meeting of St. Marks Golf Course Master Plan Committee.  I think it enhances our Town and makes it more desirable.

Would you support the Town acquiring any open parcels that come out of agricultural use to prevent their development?
I don’t believe the Town should purchase land to prevent development, I am not against development. Some parcels of land, however are more important than others to be protected based on the open space value. Recently the Open Space Preservation Commission has included a focus on agricultural lands as an added priority, of particular concern are prime farmland soil which is a valuable and quickly disappearing asset. Our beautiful hay fields are also a priority for a visual connection to our rural heritage and important habitat for grassland birds they provide. Species like the bobolink are disappearing from our landscape due to the lack of habitat.

The Open Space and Recreation Plan, which is approved by both the Selectman and the State has a comprehensive list of priority parcels for preservation.  The Open Space Preservation Commission evaluates open space parcels based on their agricultural, historical, passive recreational, wildlife habitat values and scenic views when deciding which parcels to prioritize.  Preventing development is never a consideration.

What other ideas do you have to promote and protect the historic nature of Southborough?

First I believe people will protect that which they are familiar with, so I am in favor of creating a town wide trail that visits our historical properties with markers or links to a virtual map that identifies the history behind the many buildings and places that the average citizen may not be aware of. Potentially calling it the Southborough History Trail.  This concept was discussed during the effort to preserve the Burnett House.

I also have heard that Deb Costine has led talks on the History of the Burnett Family and I think we need more activities like this.

Once people are more knowledgeable about Southborough’s History it will be easier to promote preservation.

What plans might you suggest to revitalize the Main Street area economically and aesthetically once the road improvements are done?

Great questions.  Unfortunately, the Main Street reconstruction is only being upgraded to Latisquama Rd. and not our downtown.

I propose working with the Planning Board and the Economic Development Committee to brainstorm on what can be done to upgrade the infrastructure in our downtown. A lot can be done to make it aesthetically pleasing, the road needs to be redone, brick sidewalks, imitation gas lights, flower plantings, benches and maybe a pocket park.  A more aesthetically pleasing downtown would bring more people to the area which would make the area a more desire location for businesses.  I would look into what grant funding is available to help fund these improvements.

And finally, if plans were developed for a cultural corridor linking the Library, the Old Burial Ground, the Museum, the Town House, St Marks church and the cemetery, would you be generally supportive of such an idea?

Yes, that section of our Town is so historic and beautiful it would be wonderful to see the area be better utilized. I would take it further and I would recommend a larger trail system as described above.

Mr. David Parry Replies to the Candidates Preservation Forum

Mr. Parry is the second candidate to reply. Here are his answers. Eds

1) Given the argument above on the fluidity of Town board makeup, would you commit now to placing a preservation restriction to protect the exterior of Fayville Town Hall before it is sold? If not, why not? 

Fayville hall should have preservation restrictions on its facade. That would ensure it is saved forever, by future owners, not by one owner., and then destroyed.  That warrant article was NOT thought through properly.by the Selectmen. Had the article been worded differently from the start, by the Selectmen, with Preservation Restrictions , I am confident it would have been  overwhelmingly approved. There is simply no strong leadership on the Bd of Selectmen to preserve our heritage. The notion that a preservation restriction reduces the value of a building is simply not true. In many cases they increase the buildings value, through prestige value. There are many builders potentially interested in this building with preservation  restrictions on it, permanently.  Fayville Hall deserves protection just as much as downtown Southborough Main street buildings. It is not a second class neighborhood. 

2) Study after study has shown that taxes on single family homes don’t cover their cost to the Town, and each new build actually contributes to higher rates for everyone. Given that, what would you propose to limit further development and increase the quality of life for current residents.

Please see my answer under 4

3) If the majority of home-owners in a particular area of Town favored the creation of an historic district, would this have your support.

Yes

4) Would you support the Town acquiring any open parcels that come out of agricultural use to prevent their development

Yes open space should be purchased whenever possible, because single family homes produce so many schoolchildren, and school education. takes 3/4 of our budget. The key is to purchase the most visible and attractive parcels…. Those which add scenic value to our town., such as the golf course (which we just did), or open which is good for recreation. Then we get more “bang for the buck”.  There is far less point in purchasing steep and Rocky or wet , wild land which is hidden from public view …we have to very selective because we have limited funds.

5) What other ideas do you have to promote and protect the historic nature of Southborough?

Please see my answer under 6 below

6)  What plans might you suggest to revitalize the Main Street area economically and aesthetically once the road improvements are done?

The question relates to how we can improve on the design for the rebuilding of  historic Main St. The key missing design element , or feature, critical to making Main St historically accurate and far more attractive is the following: REMOVAL OF THE UGLY UTILITY POLES AND OVERHEAD CABLES.

Many other towns have accomplished this. For instance, Hudson, Marlborough, Shrewsbury etc …thousands in all. Now imagine what future generations will say when the street is rebuilt but the incredibly ugly poles and cables remain, they will say …”What were they thinking? They had the opportunity, and the did not even try! What a shame.”

I want residents in 100 years time to look back at us and say: ” They had the foresight to accomplish an incredible plan when they had the opportunity.  ” That is OUR job now…to wake up before it is too late , and grasp this opportunity.

Another missing element to the Main Street redesign is the design for the downtown commercial block. Where the railroad crosses the road. This deserves special treatment for sidewalks and lighting, benches, canopies, and landscaping. I believe that the business owners themselves should be put n charge, with technical assistance. Let the business owners themselves entertain the possible treatments, and then propose a solution for wider public review. I am confident they will do a fantastic job because the know all about retailing , and they have huge  self interest in making this core block a big success.

Now that is REAL local participation.

7) And finally, if plans were developed for a cultural corridor linking the Library, the Old Burial Ground, the Museum, the Town House, St Marks church and the cemetery, would you be generally supportive of such an idea?

Yes

 

 

Mr. Sam Stivers Replies to the Candidates Preservation Forum

We will publish results from the other candidates as we receive them. Eds.

1. Given the argument above on the fluidity of Town board makeup, would you commit now to placing a preservation restriction to protect the exterior of Fayville Town Hall before it is sold? If not, why not?

Yes.

2. Study after study has shown that taxes on single family homes don’t cover their cost to the Town, and each new build actually contributes to higher rates for everyone. Given that, what would you propose to limit further development and increase the quality of life for current residents?

The Advisory Committee did such a study several years ago, confirming that additional residential development likely results in a net cost to the Town. Because development is largely controlled by the Town’s zoning bylaws (managed by the Planning Board), modification of the development process is something that starts with the Planning Board. I support a Planning Board initiative to update the zoning bylaws, which can address growth and other issues. The Selectmen
can collaborate with the Planning Board on such an initiative.

Additionally, the Selectmen can help manage the Town’s exposure to “unfriendly” 40B housing projects by smart planning to meet our Housing Plan objectives. Using monies in the Housing Trust Fund we can work with developers and/or nonprofits to create “friendly” 40B housing projects so we can meet our housing obligations through a process the Town controls, instead of reacting to developer proposals.

3. If the majority of home owners in a particular area of Town favored the creation of an historic district, would this have your support?

I support this concept. I would need to see the specific details of such a proposal before I can support a particular proposal.

4. Would you support the Town acquiring any open parcels that come out of agricultural use to prevent their development?

I support the preservation of open space in the Town. The challenge is to find a way to fund the acquisition of (or acquisition of the development rights to) such property. The Town needs to work with the Open Space Preservation Commission (OSPC) to see that the limited resources for such purchases are aligned with the OSPC prioritization of available properties.

5. What other ideas do you have to promote and protect the historic nature of Southborough?

The Selectmen can support the Historical Commission and the Planning Board to develop a plan for historic preservation and priorities.

6.  What plans might you suggest to revitalize the Main Street area economically and aesthetically once the road improvements are done?

The Town could consider creating a zoning overlay district to permit mixed-use structures in the downtown area. This could provide additional commercial/professional space as well as residential use.

7. And finally, if plans were developed for a cultural corridor linking the Library, the Old Burial Ground, the Museum, the Town House, St Marks church and the cemetery, would you be generally supportive of such an idea?

I would be generally supportive of this concept. I would need to see the specific details of such a proposal before I can support a particular proposal.

Southborough Historical Society By-Laws

Southborough Historical Society
By-Laws

Adopted 16 November 2016

 

Article One
Name and Object

The name of the Society shall be The Southborough Historical Society. The objective of this Society shall be to educate, study, collect and preserve for the Town historical records and antiquities relating to the history of Southborough and its people, to preserve items of current events that may have historical interest in the future; to interest and unite the townspeople in a finer public spirit, through a fuller understanding of the traditions and history, both past an in the make of our Town and its neighboring communities. Further, the Society will function as an active advocate for historic preservation in the Town.

 

Article Two
Officers and Directors

There will be a board of directors consisting of six people. Three of these will elected by the annual meeting. The terms of the elected members will be three years, so arranged that at least one member shall be elected at each annual meeting. Three members will be appointed by vote of the Southborough Historical Commission with a term of three years. These six members shall appoint from their number a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer, with a term consistent with their remaining term on the board, not to exceed three years. Unless approved by a special vote of the board, no person shall serve more than two consecutive terms in any office.

 

Article Three
Duties of the Board

The Board of Directors shall have general control of the property and affairs of the Society; shall fix dates of meetings as provided in Article Four; and shall otherwise manage the affairs of the Society. Members of the board will be expected to actively work to maintain the the financial health of the Society and well-being of its collections. To that end, the board of directors shall hire an executive director who will oversee the day to day affairs of the Society and serve as curator of its collections. The executive director will will report to the board and serve at its discretion.

Article Four
Meetings

The annual meeting shall be held in April and other regular meetings as established by the Board of Directors.  Special meetings may be called at anytime by the president, the board of directors or upon petition by seven members of the society.

Article Five
Membership and Dues

Any person interested in the objectives of this society is eligible for membership. The annual dues for all classes of membership shall be set annually by the board of directors.

Article Six
Amendments

These by-laws may be altered or amended by a vote of two-thirds of the members present and voting thereon, at any meeting, provided notice of the proposed change shall have been given at a previous meeting and sent in writing to members who maintain a current email address with the secretary.

 

Article Seven
Removal

Members of the society whose dues are in arrears for two consecutive years will be considered to have voluntarily withdrawn from the Society. Members of the Board who miss four consecutive meetings of the board will be considered to have voluntarily resigned their office, unless such absence was approved by vote of the board. In such cases, the board shall have the power to appoint an acting member until a replacement can be found either by election at the annual meeting or appointment by the Historical Commission

Article Eight
Dissolution

The Society may be dissolved by majority vote of the board. After payment of all debts, the property of the Society shall be turned over to the Southborough Historical Commission.

Article Nine
Implementation of Revised by-laws

These by-laws shall take effect on January 1, 2017; for the one-time purpose of enacting these laws, all members of the current board will surrender their offices and be granted lifetime memberships with emeritus status as thanks for their service. The historical commission will appoint the first board from among those who express interest. three members will be appointed with  three-year terms; and an additional three members with terms that will expire respectively in April 2018,  April 2019, and April 2020. Henceforth elections will follow the regulations as set forth in Article Two.