News

Boxborough Election Results 


(24-MAY-24) On Tuesday, May 21, Boxborough voters went to the polls to fill nine town positions. The only contested race was for one Planning Board seat. According to the Town Clerk's results, incumbent Rebecca Verner received 336 votes and challenger Nathaniel Stuntz received 333 votes. 


Results for uncontested races are as follows: 

  

Of 4,081 total registered voters, 679 voters cast ballots. The Town Clerk’s “Town Election Results” can be found at bit.ly/4brBJLK.

School Committee Hears Updates from Junior High and High School 

(24-MAY-24) The ABRSD School Committee opened their meeting on May 16 by thanking the communities of Acton and Boxborough for passing the FY2025 school budget. Superintendent Peter Light recognized that “this override was a significant investment in the schools, and it comes with an expectation, that we recognize, of making sure that we’re spending our tax dollars really wisely in support of student achievement.”  

  

The committee heard an update on the junior high school by Principal Jim Marcotte and an update on the high school by principal Joanie Dean. 

  

Principal Marcotte focused on the success of the advisory program, in which students meet twice a week to discuss school-wide topics. Marcotte also praised the junior high’s work this year on culturally responsive learning and practices, family communication, relationships and trust, and student learning. 

  

Principal Dean also focused on the high school’s advisory program, as well as course leveling, a community-building flex block, and student and staff leadership.

  

Dean also presented proposed changes to the high school handbook, including reducing the “testing after vacations” restriction, reducing the number of allowed unexcused absences, updating the cell phones and electronics policy, and updating the academic integrity policy. Principal Dean’s memo on the proposed changes can be found at https://bit.ly/4axAk5g. The School Committee will vote on these changes at their next meeting, June 6.

  

The committee also heard a presentation by Dr. Deborah Bookis, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, on District Goal #2, to “increase the number of students on a pathway to literacy and mathematics proficiency through implementation of a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) to expand access and opportunity for students.” Dr. Bookis discussed different types of data and data analysis that the district uses to evaluate and support students. Superintendent Light and the Committee also thanked Dr. Bookis for her service to the district.

  

The next and final School Committee meeting of this school year will be on Thursday, June 6, at 7 p.m.

Planning Board Discusses 100 Codman Hill and 400 Beaver Brook

(24-MAY-24) At its meeting on May 20, the Planning Board held a public hearing on an application recently submitted by Stamski & McNary, Inc., on behalf of property owner French Brothers Boxborough, for site plan approval for a three-unit trade shop building at 100 Codman Hill Road.

  

A similar application for 100 Codman Hill Road had been previously submitted to the Planning Board in August 2022; however, the applicant withdrew that application from the Planning Board in December 2023 while they worked through feedback from the Conservation Commission, which also has jurisdiction due to the property’s proximity to Elizabeth Brook and “bordering vegetated wetland.”

  

The applicant’s revised application to the Planning Board consists of a three-unit building that does not yet have tenants but is intended for use by contractors to store equipment. After the applicant’s presentation, Board members asked questions about the landscaping of the site, traffic to and from the site, the potential uses of the building, and the appearance of the building. The hearing was continued to June 3.

  

The Board also voted to approve a “transportation demand management plan” submitted by Campanelli, developer of the Park at Beaver Brook, regarding 400 Beaver Brook Road. The approval of a transportation demand management plan, which includes “measures to reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips to the site,” is necessary to satisfy a condition of occupancy outlined in the Board’s 400 Beaver Brook Site Plan Review decision. 

  

Town Planner Alec Wade updated the Board on Campanelli’s progress in satisfying the many conditions necessary to close out their permit for 400 Beaver Brook Road and Wade’s system for tracking completion of the conditions.

  

After hearing updates from the Town Planner about the upcoming MBTA Communities information session on May 30, the Board continued its ongoing conversation about goal setting, which led to big-picture discussion about housing, development, zoning, and open space in Boxborough. Potential Planning Board goals relate to zoning bylaw updates, MBTA Communities compliance, zoning enforcement, rezoning of industrial districts, development of a village center, and assessment of current subsidized housing inventory.

Town Planner Seeks Community Input on Draft Village Center Report


(24-MAY-24) A draft “Village Center Feasibility Assessment” is now available to the public at https://bit.ly/4bBQ34E and the Town Planner is looking for feedback from the community. 

  

Think the draft plan envisions too much construction? Not enough retail storefronts? Love the walking paths? The town common by the pond? Members of the public are encouraged to review the draft report and fill out a google form, which has both specific multiple-choice questions and opportunities to provide general feedback. 

  

The deadline for feedback to be considered for the final report is 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28. However, the Town Planner will continue to collect community feedback after that date. 

  

The report is the culmination of a six-month project led by the Town Planner along with consultant Tighe & Bond. The project was funded by a Community Planning Grant awarded to the Economic Development Committee in 2022.  

  

Community input was initially collected at a public forum in February. Since then, a “stakeholder group” has met several times to provide feedback to the consultants as they developed a vision for a village center and how the town could pursue that vision. The long-term goal of the project is to “create a new village center in Boxborough’s Business and Town Center zoning districts.” 

  

When reached for comment about the village center initiative, Town Planner Alec Wade wrote, “Over the last 6 months I've had the chance to learn about the community's vision for a village center. A space for walking and recreation, community gathering, and new small business opportunities. Our consultant artfully developed a plan and turned this vision into a concept. But we need community input. We're collecting input on the plan until Tuesday May 28, and continuing to collect input on the vision for many more weeks to come. This project has helped conceptualize a vision several years in the making, and I look forward to the continued engagement and legislative changes needed to bring this to fruition.”

  

Wade continued,  “I encourage the public to read the plan, watch the recordings, and to provide feedback on our project website. We'll keep people up to date through the website, and we hope you'll check back often for new information.” 

  

Visit https://bit.ly/Village-Center to learn more about the project and provide feedback by Tuesday, May 28. 

 

Golden Fife and Parade Marshal Nominations Due June 1

(24-MAY-24) Nomination forms are now available at Town Hall and Sargent Memorial Library for Boxborough’s 2024 Golden Fife Award and Parade Marshal for Fifer’s Day. Completed nomination forms must be returned to boxes at Town Hall or the Library by June 1. 

  

The Golden Fife is awarded to a Boxborough resident who has demonstrated long-term volunteer service to the town. The Parade Marshal is someone who has done something exceptional for the town, but not necessarily long-term or as a volunteer, and does not have to be a resident. Fifer’s Day will take place on June 15.

  

The number of nominations is unlimited, and a detailed reason for each nomination is appreciated. The number of nominations does not determine the winner. The Public Celebrations and Ceremonies Committee selects the winners from all those nominated.

2024 Boxborough Annual Town Meeting, Night One: Budget and Playground Pass

(17-MAY-24) The 242nd Boxborough Annual Town Meeting was called to order by Town Moderator Dennis Reip at 7 p.m. on Monday May 13 at the Blanchard Memorial School gymnasium with almost 400 voters in attendance.

  

After opening remarks by the moderator, a special town meeting was called to order to hear motions on four articles that address current year business. All of these were approved, including funding for a comprehensive traffic study of the town and expanded funding for road maintenance.

  

After the special town meeting was dissolved, the annual town meeting reconvened with brief reports from the Select Board (by chair Kristin Hilberg), the Acton Boxborough Regional School Committee (by chair Adam Klein), and the Planning Board (by member Cindy Markowitz).

  

Voters then approved salaries for the town clerk and constable and changes to the Personnel Administration Plan and the Plan’s Classification and Compensation Schedule, which included a 3% wage adjustment for non-union and non-contract employees.  

  

After hearing the Finance Committee report (by chair Maria Neyland), the meeting voted a town operating budget of $27,936,663, a 7.6% increase from fiscal year 2024. The main issue of discussion was the Acton-Boxborough Regional School budget, which was up 14.5% and represented almost all of the year-to-year budget increase.

  

The meeting then proceeded through 37 articles, approving 36 and taking no action on one at the request of the Select Board. 

  

Items included funding to move the Associate Town Planner position to full-time; add a part-time Recreation Services Coordinator; replace the roof, well water booster pump, and HVAC circulation pump at the Sargent Memorial Library; paint the exterior of town hall; replace a marked cruiser and mobile data terminals for the Police Department; purchase a new ambulance and personal protection equipment for the Fire Department; and acquire computer software and hardware for town hall departments.

  

The meeting also approved the use of Community Preservation Act funds for five projects and an easement to bring a water line to the west end of town. The final article Monday evening was approval of Community Preservation Act funds for renovation and equipping of the Blanchard School Playground. 

  

Three articles remain for deliberation on Tuesday May 14 at 7 p.m.

2024 Boxborough Annual Town Meeting, Night Two: Fire Station Design and Project Management Funding Approved 

(17-MAY-24) The second and last night of the 2024 Boxborough Annual Town Meeting was called to order by Town Moderator Dennis Reip at 7 p.m. on Tuesday May 14 at the Blanchard Memorial School gymnasium with roughly 225 voters in attendance.

  

The first item on the agenda was Article 42, consideration of funds for professional design and owners project management services for a proposed new fire station. After over an hour of debate, and an unsuccessful amendment to reduce the cost and eliminate the project management component, the meeting approved $500,000 for both professional design and project management services by a majority vote.

  

Voters then quickly approved by two-thirds votes two amendments to the zoning bylaw, including one to clarify the language relating to accessory dwelling units on single family house lots.

  

The meeting ended at 8:50 p.m.

Town Planner to Host Public Forum on MBTA Communities Act

(17-MAY-24) On Thursday, May 30, the Office of Land Use and Permitting will host a public education session about the MBTA Communities Act and what it means for Boxborough. The event will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. at Town Hall and virtually via Zoom.

  

The event will feature speaker Lily Linke, an MBTA Communities Engagement Manager with the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association. 

  

The 2021 MBTA Communities Act requires that certain cities and towns designated as MBTA Communities “have a zoning ordinance or by-law that provides for at least one district of reasonable size in which multi-family housing is permitted as of right.” MBTA Communities are those that have an MBTA station within them and those that are adjacent to a community with an MBTA station. The law is intended to address Massachusetts’ housing shortage.

  

As an “Adjacent Small Town,” Boxborough faces a December 2025 deadline to adopt the required zoning. 

  

For more information, visit https://bit.ly/BoxboroughMBTA

Town Launches “Boxborough Connects” Bus Route


(17-MAY-24) On Thursday, May 16, the Town of Boxborough, in collaboration with Montachusett Regional Transit Authority (MART), launched “Boxborough Connects,” a new public transportation service. 

  

The service will run Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The town intends to expand service to weekends once necessary staffing levels are reached. Information about specific routes, stops, and times are provided on the Boxborough Connects schedule, available at https://tinyurl.com/y5px2xa2

  

Buses will make stops in Boxborough and Acton, including Acton Boxborough United Way, Danny’s Place, Roche Brothers Plaza, Blanchard Elementary, Middlesex Bank Plaza in Boxborough, Sargent Memorial Library, the Park at Beaverbrook, the South Acton Commuter Rail Station, and Town Hall. 

  

The cost is $1 per ride. Tickets can be purchased when boarding the bus (cash only) or at Boxborough Town Hall. 

  

In the summer of 2023, the Town was approached by the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority (MART) to establish a new local rideshare service. A stakeholder group was formed to work with the MART team and devise the best service for Boxborough. This team included the assistant town administrator, the Blanchard Memorial School principal, community services coordinator, council on aging coordinator, police chief, and town planner. The team also collaborated with homeowners and neighborhood associations in Boxborough. 

  

Town Planner Alec Wade explained that “the route will reduce carbon emissions and single-vehicle traffic, especially given the uptick in commuters through the town, while also providing access, convenience, and support to local businesses and residents.” 

  

Wade emphasized the inclusivity of the new route, noting that the vehicles are accessible for people of all ages and mobilities. He said, “This MART service not only addresses environmental concerns but also supports local nonprofits and organizations such as the Acton Community Pantry and Danny’s Place.” The route includes stops to ensure residents in densely populated neighborhoods have reliable transportation options. 

  

The town is looking for more drivers. Those interested are encouraged to visit https://tinyurl.com/y5px2xa2

  

Riders are encouraged to share feedback to drivers or by contacting the Town Planner at https://tinyurl.com/y5px2xa2

Boxborough Police Increase Traffic Enforcement

(17-MAY-24) For the months of May and June, the Boxborough Police Department will increase traffic enforcement as part of “Operation Safe Streets.”

  

According to the BPD, “officers will be specifically tasked with enforcing all traffic related laws in targeted areas and neighborhoods around town. These enforcement actions will include, but are not limited to, speeding, stop sign and red light violations, school bus stop sign violations, crosswalk violations, aggressive and distracted driving, driving under the influence, and safe bicycle operation.”

  

“We have had a successful start to Operation Safe Streets as we increased enforcement and education in the area of Blanchard School and during Acton-Boxborough Prom weekend,” said Police Chief John Szewczyk. “It is imperative that the rules of the road are followed as we want to ensure everyone, from children to seniors, are safe as the warmer weather approaches.”

  

“Special Enforcement dates” will include Memorial Day Weekend, Acton-Boxborough Prom, Acton-Boxborough High School Graduation, and the opening of Flerra Summer Playground.

  

“Special Enforcement areas” will include the school zone at Blanchard Memorial School, Liberty Field Park, Flerra Field, Steele Farm, Stow Road, Burroughs Road, Hill Road, Beaverbrook Road, Swanson Road, and Codman Hill Road. 

  

Any residents interested in submitting a request for targeted enforcement in their neighborhood can contact Traffic Safety Supervisor Sgt. Phil Gath at pgath@boxborough-ma.gov.

Town Completes Transition to Regional Dispatch, Publishes Guide for Non-Emergency Calls

(17-MAY-24) The Town of Boxborough has transitioned both emergency calls and non-emergency calls to Nashoba Valley Regional Dispatch District (NVRDD). The town has published a guide for residents seeking non-emergency services. 

  

To contact the police or fire department for non-emergency matters (e.g., property damage, noise complaints, fraud or identity theft, fire alarm testing), residents can call 978-264-1750 and speak to a NVRDD dispatcher. 

  

For specific inquiries to the Police Department (e.g., regarding a license to carry), residents can call 978-264-1750 and use the dial-by-name extension for assistance. 

  

For specific questions to the Fire Department, residents can call 978-264-1770 and use the dial-by-name extension for assistance. 

  

For police detail requests and fire burn permits, residents can visit the NVRDD website at www.nvrddma.gov. For records requests, residents can use the town website, http://www.boxborough-ma.gov/

  

The town reminds residents to dial 911 immediately for any emergency. 

  

The town’s full guide to non-emergency services can be found at https://bit.ly/4bB0yo6

Sustainability Committee Considers Waste Management


(17-MAY-24) At their hybrid meeting May 8, the Boxborough Sustainability Committee (BSC) discussed waste management and strategies and plans for a public celebration of the town’s dedication to reducing carbon and other sustainability goals.

  

Co-Chair Kate Davies suggested ways to get Department of Public Works (DPW) and citizen opinions regarding methods for reducing the cost of disposing of both waste and recyclable materials. 

  

Davies suggested that the BSC look at the many different ways other towns treat “pay as you throw,” swap sheds, and compost.

  

Members of the committee suggested looking more closely at what the town spends and what individuals spend to dispose of waste at the Transfer Station and for private trash pickup, which seems to run between $500 and $700 a year.

  

BSC members pointed out that while Transfer Station stickers are free for residents over 65 and $150 a year for others, no extra fees are charged for disposal of special items such as mattresses, electronic equipment, and appliances as large as refrigerators. 

  

The committee decided to revisit options regarding the disposal of hazardous waste to provide more education about what materials go in various Transfer Station bins. For example, citizens need more direction to dispose of textiles and non-garden compost.

  

Co-Chair Francie Nolde also suggested that the BSC talk with town restaurants about how they manage waste disposal.

  

Davies pointed out that Town Planner Alec Wade welcomed the BSC’s proposal for a summer celebration to include town groups interested in environmental issues. BSC member Suresh Jasrasaria and Nolde agreed to work with Wade.

  

Davies reported that the “Sustainability Policy” document received Select Board approval, and the BSC Charter needs work regarding the number of members. The BSC understands that a quorum should be one member more than 50% of the membership. Davies said the Select Board wanted charter wording to emphasize the BSC’s “advising” and “supporting” roles. Nolde pointed out that the BSC also makes “recommendations to the town.”  

  

Member Jay Krishasamy expressed concern that the website “Energize Boxborough” has only 100 registered members and that the site could be used to promote Freebee market, the summer celebration, and surveys regarding waste management.

  

The Committee will have a booth at Fifer’s Day, June 15, with a raffle, possible surveys, and promotion of Energize Boxborough and the summer celebration; Member Richard Garrison will help organize Fifer’s Day recycling and waste disposal; he will seek help from A-B high school volunteers. Nolde suggested the celebration be called “Sustainability Rodeo.”

  

The BSC will have a table at Freebee Market on May 18, and the Committee’s next public, hybrid meeting will be at 7 p.m. on June 13.

  

Phase II of Steele Farmhouse Repairs Completed; Committee Looking for New Members

(17-MAY-24) At its meeting on May 9, Chair Christopher Hydak reported that Phase II of the farmhouse preservation project, the repair of the roof and chimney, had been successfully completed. Now the work can begin to develop the request for proposals for Phase III of the effort, to preserve the envelope of the 1784 Levi Wetherbee farmhouse at Steele Farm. Phase III includes new windows, new siding, and exterior painting.

  

The closing deadline for the rebid of the contract for restoration of the ice house concluded this past week. Replies will be opened and evaluated shortly.

  

Hydak reported that the Acton-Boxborough Regional High School Community Service Day was quite successful, with spreading of gravel on one of the major paths, partial cleanup inside the barn, and significant removal of invasive species. As part of other maintenance efforts, 60 holiday trees have been planted and a significant amount of brush has been burned. The plan is that the committee will schedule work days for adult volunteers over the summer. He also noted that the DPW and a volunteer have started mowing the grass. 

  

The inventory and organization of the contents of the barn is almost complete. Owners have been identified for almost all items and have been contacted to verify ownership of property. Decisions to determine what should stay at the barn and what should be removed are far advanced.

  

The town purchased the Steele Farm property in the fall of 1994, making this year the 30th anniversary of town ownership and thus the preservation of the buildings and property. The committee is still planning to have a 30th anniversary celebration in early October; details will be arranged over the next few months.  

  

In closing, Hydak announced that two members would be leaving the committee in June. New members would be heartily welcomed. To express interest, residents should email him directly at chydak@boxborough-ma.gov.

  

The next meeting of the committee will take place on Thursday June 20 at the Steele Farm Barn, 484 Middle Road, starting at 7 p.m.

Town Reports Finance Director and Police Officer Hires to Personnel Board

(17-MAY-24) At its meeting on May 8, the Personnel Board heard updates on town staffing and proposed personnel guidelines/policies.

  

Assistant Town Administrator (ATA) Rajon Hudson reported that the town has hired a new Finance Director with a start date of July 1, and two part time transit drivers who will receive training during the week of May 13.

  

Additionally, the town hired two members of the former Boxborough dispatch team as police officers. Both officers will attend the Lowell Police Academy starting on Monday May 13. The academy is a 6-month program which trains and certifies officers in the fundamentals of police work. At the completion of the academy, new officers complete a 12-week field training program with experienced Boxborough police officers. The field training allows new officers to handle service calls under the direct guidance and supervision of an experienced officer.  

  

Hudson also reported that the town received 16 applications for the Fire Chief position, which are being screened by Community Paradigm, an independent consulting firm hired by the town. According to Town Administrator (TA) Michael Johns, the interview team comprised of the TA, ATA, a member of FinCom, a department head, and a former Select Board member will start the interview process during the week of May 13. The candidates are then sent to an assessment center which does skills-based testing on judgment, budgeting and human resource functions. Final interviews will be conducted by the Select Board in June. Johns is hoping to have the new Fire Chief on board sometime in July.

  

Personnel Board member Allan MacLean reviewed newly developed resource materials explaining the Family Medical Leave Act and Domestic Violence statute and employee leaves pursuant to those laws.

  

MacLean also presented "Open Door" guidelines which affirm and expand on the Town's commitment to open communication by and between the town administrator, department heads, and all employees. The guidelines encourage management to engage with staff members regarding their questions and concerns.

  

The next meeting of the Personnel Board is scheduled for Tuesday June 11 at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

Moderator, Committees, and Town Hall Staff Discuss Annual Town Meeting Process and Logistics

(10-MAY-24) On Monday, April 29, Town Hall staff and representatives from the Select Board, Finance Committee, and School Committee met with Town Moderator Dennis Reip to discuss the Annual Town Meeting, which begins on Monday, May 13 at 7 p.m. at Blanchard Memorial School. 

Kirby Dolak from Littleton Community Television and Mary Brolin, who will be serving as assistant town moderator, also participated. 

Moderator Reip opened the meeting by thanking the Select Board and Finance Committee for working together to put many items on the consent agenda. The consent agenda consists of articles that have been voted unanimously by both the Select Board and Finance Committee and are considered noncontroversial.

Reip reviewed the procedural motions with the group, which include setting the schedule beyond Monday night to continue to Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, if necessary, and taking Article 42 out of order as the first item of business on Tuesday night. 

Article 42 requests $500,000 for professional design services for a new fire station. Reip said that “in the past, articles of great interest have been taken out of order and scheduled for a specific night and time”, so that interested voters can plan to attend Town Meeting to vote on that article.

During the first night (Monday) of Town Meeting, the town operating budget will be voted on. The operating budget includes the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District assessment, which increased by 14.46% from FY24, and is anticipated to draw a large number of voters.

Reip and Brolin, who will act as Assistant Town Moderator for the evening, discussed the logistics of managing an “overflow” crowd. In the event that the Blanchard gym reaches capacity, the school library will be set up with seating and video screens. Brolin will moderate in the library, while Reip moderates in the gym.

Parents of school-aged children may sign up for free childcare at Blanchard during the first night of Town Meeting. The deadline to sign up for this service is May 10. More information can be found at https://bit.ly/4b9x5SG.

Planning Board Candidate Forum Held May 2; Recording Available on Town Website 

(10-MAY-24) On May 2, the League of Women Voters hosted a Candidate Forum at Boxborough Town Hall for the two candidates vying for a single Planning Board seat: Rebecca Verner and Nathaniel “Than” Stuntz. This is the only contested race in this year’s election.

A 33-minute recording of the Candidate Forum is available on the town website at https://bit.ly/3Ur9hCE.  

In her opening remarks to the roughly 15 in-person attendees, League of Women Voters – Acton Area member and Boxborough resident Susan Bak stated that the purpose of the event was “to give voters an opportunity to learn about candidates and cast an informed vote. Our goal is to be fair, inclusive, respectful, and informative.”  

Verner and Stuntz gave opening remarks, answered a series of questions from the moderator, participated in a round of “rapid-fire” yes-or-no questions, and gave a closing statement.

The candidates were asked about their experience and prior contributions to the town, potential changes to zoning by-laws, zoning for housing and office parks, plans for a village center, and the MBTA Communities Act. The candidates had the same responses to all three “rapid-fire” questions. 

The forum was moderated by League of Women Voters member and Wayland resident Sue Flicop. 

When asked for a comment about the event, Verner stated that she was thankful “for the opportunity to highlight my extensive experience in planning and zoning matters and to distinguish myself from my opponent. 

The event was very thoughtfully orchestrated, other than the unfortunate removal of my candidacy materials during the forum. The League of Women Voters forum and the recording on BXB[TV] gives voters an opportunity to hear how I have used my skillset as a landscape architect specializing in site planning and as a long-term Planning Board member to help the community grow in a thoughtful and balanced manner. I look forward to continuing to serve the community.” 

Stuntz stated, “I extend my thanks to the League of Women Voters for hosting the Candidates Night. Their commitment to fostering informed civic engagement is commendable, and I am grateful for the opportunity to present my vision for Boxbourgh. I look forward to working with the town to support sustainable and responsible growth in town as a member of the Planning Board.”

“The purpose of a candidate forum is to stimulate important conversations about issues that impact our day to day lives and energize voters to come to the polls,” said Bak. “Informed voters make better decisions.” The election will be held Tuesday, May 21.

School Committee Discusses Next Steps in School Budget Process 

(10-MAY-24) At its meeting on May 2, the School Committee discussed next steps with respect to the FY2025 ABRSD budget. The meeting took place two days after Acton voters approved a levy limit override by 37 votes. 

The approval of the override allows the $114.38M FY2025 budget to move forward for consideration at Acton Town Meeting on May 6 and at Boxborough Town Meeting on May 13. 

Throughout the meeting, School Committee Chair Adam Klein, Superintendent Peter Light, and several Committee members urged voters in both towns to attend their respective town meetings and vote for the school budget.

Superintendent Light clarified that Acton’s approval of the override means that the alternative $108M “B Budget” no longer exists. Instead, the $114.38M budget previously referred to as the “A Budget,” which was voted by the School Committee on March 21, will move forward to the town meetings. 

This budget results in a $79.07M assessment to Acton and a $15.96M assessment to Boxborough. A majority vote is required to approve the assessment at each Town Meeting.  

School Committee Chair Klein explained that there are three potential outcomes at each Town Meeting: voters could pass the budget, vote down the budget, or amend the budget and pass the amended version. He noted that passing an amended budget is essentially the same thing as voting down the budget, as both will result in the budget going back to the School Committee for revision.

Said Chair Klein, “if either town votes anything other than the assessment we have given them, [the School Committee] needs to come back and meet and present another budget” to the towns. In that case, both towns would need to hold a special town meeting to vote on the revised budget.

In other business, the Committee heard an elementary schools update presented by the district’s six elementary school principals, who discussed district goals and accomplishments across the elementary schools.

The Superintendent also gave an end of year update on district goals, and the Committee discussed the upcoming superintendent evaluation process. Any members of the public with feedback on the superintendent can email the School Committee Chair at aklein@abschools.org

Acton Town Meeting Approves FY2025 School Budget Assessment

(10-MAY-24) On Monday May 6, Acton Town Meeting approved, by a majority vote, the $79.07 million Acton-Boxborough Regional School assessment to the Town of Acton for the FY2025 school budget. 

The motion passed with 1844 votes in favor and 704 votes against, according to the voting results projected on the screen at the conclusion of the vote. 

The School committee is pleased and optimistic following the successful passage of the school budget in Acton,” said School Committee Chair Adam Klein. “It reaffirms our shared commitment to providing quality education in our community.”

On Monday May 13, Boxborough Town Meeting will consider the $15.96 million school assessment to the Town of Boxborough. The school budget assessment is included in Article 5, the Town Operating Budget.

If Boxborough does not approve the assessment or votes to amend the assessment, the School Committee will need to present a new budget to both towns. 

In that case, both towns would need to hold a special town meeting to vote on the revised budget.

Read more reporting about Acton Town Meeting by the Acton Exchange, Acton’s new independent news source, at www.actonexchange.org.  



Building Committee Recommends Article 42 Fire Station Study


(10-MAY-24)  At an in-person, public meeting in a bay of the Boxborough Fire Station on May 8, the Boxborough Building Committee (BBC) voted unanimously on language for the BBC recommendation of Article 42 at Annual Town Meeting (ATM). On May 1, the BBC had unanimously voted to recommend the article.


As presented by the Select Board, Article 42 asks voters to appropriate $500,000 from free cash to procure “professional design and owner’s project manager services related to the construction of a new fire station.”


In preparation for a vote at ATM, the Select Board will present details and answer voters’ questions about Article 42 at 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 14, beginning the second night of Town Meeting.


At the end of the Committee’s fire station meeting, some members took a tour of the facility.


The BBC will next meet at 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 29, at a virtual meeting open to the public.

Village Center Working Group Discusses Location of Future “Town Green”

(10-MAY-24) On April 29, a cross-committee working group reacted to the second iteration of a “village center revitalization” plan presented by town consultant Tighe & Bond. The revised plan centered on creating a village center at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Stow Road, and Middle Road. 

It envisioned a pavilion, town green, and gathering space behind the Town Hall; a public park and new buildings near the pond across Massachusetts Avenue from the United Church of Christ Boxborough; new commercial buildings along Massachusetts Avenue; multi-family housing and more public park areas at 70-72 Stow Road; and walking paths and sidewalks to connect each of these areas to each other, as well as to the Blanchard Memorial School and the Sargent Memorial Library.

Feedback from working group members included a discussion of the best place to locate a “town green.” Some members of the group expressed a preference for locating a town green next to the pond across from the church. The group discussed whether it would be important for a town green to be visible from and/or adjacent to Massachusetts Avenue, and the challenges that might result from placing a town green next to a busy road.

The town has hired consultants Tighe & Bond and Innes Associates to carry out a village center revitalization project funded by a Community Planning Grant secured by Boxborough’s Economic Development Committee. The long-term goal of the project is to “create a new village center in Boxborough’s Business and Town Center zoning districts.” 

A public forum was held in February, and the first working group session was held in March. The working group will meet again in early May; the session will be open to the public. The consultants will give the town a final report and recommendations in mid-May.  A recording of the April 29 session is available at https://bit.ly/Village-Center

Building Committee Hears Updates on Potential Fire Station Sites, Discusses Warrant Article 42

(3-MAY-24) At their meeting on April 24, the Building Committee heard updates from Town Administrator Mike Johns about the work currently being performed with respect to the four potential sites for a future fire station: the current fire station at 502 Massachusetts Avenue, 72 Stow Road, 700 Massachusetts Avenue, and 1320 Massachusetts Avenue.

  

Johns reported that Context Architecture (Context) is currently working on an overlay of various sized buildings on the site of the current fire station. Building Committee members Larry Grossman and Mark White volunteered to work with Context on this project and bring the final product back to the Building Committee. Johns said that Context continues to study the Stow Road site as well.

  

At the time of the meeting, Johns had not yet reached out to Lincoln Properties regarding the status of 1320 Mass Ave., but indicated that he intended to do so later that week.

  

Building Committee member Grossman reported on the status of 700 Mass Ave. Grossman said that he had spoken with Keith Lyons, who told Grossman that “he had a meeting with the family members that own the site and they will hold the site for one year without selling it.”

  

The Building Committee also discussed the Select Board’s decision to not accept their recommended revision to Article 42 in the Annual Town Meeting Warrant, “Professional Services for New Fire Station.” Several Committee members asked questions about the language of the Select Board’s motion on Article 42 and offered suggestions regarding the Select Board’s presentation on Article 42.

  

Committee Chair Kristin Hilberg, who is also the Chair of the Select Board, agreed to share the Select Board’s draft Article 42 presentation, if ready, with the Building Committee at the Committee’s next meeting. At that time, the Building Committee may make a recommendation on Article 42.

  

The Committee also discussed the state of the current fire station. Member Les Fox shared that the town has posted a video walkthrough of the current fire station on the town website. It is available on the www.boxborough-ma.gov homepage and at https://tinyurl.com/BoxboroughFireStation

Acton Override Passes By Thirty-Seven Votes

(3-MAY-24) On April 30, Acton voters approved a proposed levy limit override by a margin of 37 votes.  Now that the override has been approved, the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District FY2025 budget of $114.38M can move forward for consideration at Acton Town Meeting on May 6 and at Boxborough Town Meeting on May 13. 

The levy limit override ballot question stated, “Shall the Town of Acton be allowed to assess an additional $6.6 Million in real estate and personal property taxes for the purposes of funding the operating budget of the Public Schools and the Municipal Government for the fiscal year beginning July first 2024?”

According to the Final Annual Town Election Results published on the Town of Acton website, 3,191 voters (49.94%) said yes; 3,154 voters (49.36%) said no. The question was left blank by 45 voters. A total of 6,390 ballots were cast, which is 40.65% of registered Acton voters. 

Read more reporting on the Acton override vote by the Acton Exchange, Acton’s new independent news source, at www.actonexchange.org

Boxborough’s 2024 Annual Town Meeting Starts May 13

(3-MAY-24) Boxborough’s Annual Town Meeting (ATM) will take place at the Blanchard Memorial School, 493 Massachusetts Ave. The 2024 ATM begins on Monday, May 13, with subsequent nights on May 14, 15, and 16 if necessary. Voter check-in is 6:00 p.m. for Monday night only. Check-in on subsequent nights begins at 6:30 p.m.; the meeting starts at 7 p.m. on all nights.

  

A copy of the ATM Warrant was mailed to the household of every registered voter in Boxborough on April 25, and is available on the Town’s website. There are 49 articles on the Warrant, which includes a Special Town Meeting of four articles at the start within the ATM. Thirty-nine consent agenda Articles may be voted on with no debate. 

  

In order to vote at Town Meeting and the Town Election, you must be registered to vote in Boxborough by Friday, May 3 (https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ovr/

  

Boxborough’s Annual Town Election will take place Tuesday, May 21 at Town Hall, 29 Middle Rd. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close promptly at 8 p.m.  

  

There is one contested race in this election for a three-year seat on the Planning Board. 

  

Applications for Vote By Mail (VBM) ballots must be received by the Town Clerk before 5 p.m. on May 14th. To be valid, completed VBM ballots must be returned to the Town Clerk’s office by the close of polls (8 p.m.) on Election Day. Absentee voting in person at the Town Clerk’s office can take place through Monday, May 20 at noon.

Planning Board Discusses Traffic Study, Tree Bylaw

(3-MAY-24) At its meeting on April 29, the Planning Board reviewed a revised proposal for a townwide traffic study. Presented by Corinne Tobias of engineering firm Green International Affiliates, Inc, the project’s scope has been adjusted to bring the total cost under the $60,000 that the Planning Board is seeking at Town Meeting to fund the project. The Board voted unanimously to recommend the execution of a contract with Green International Affiliates, Inc. to conduct the traffic study, subject to funding availability.  

   

According to the Town Meeting warrant, the traffic study will “establish a baseline existing condition, review projected new traffic impacts, and recommend improvements to ensure safer streets in Boxborough. The baseline analysis will include crash data and traffic counts conducted along Massachusetts Avenue and an analysis of at least 12 key intersections.”

  

The Planning Board also discussed Boxborough’s Tree Protection and Preservation Bylaw and whether it may or may not allow use of “representative samples to establish the species, size, and number of trees in a given area.” 

  

The question came to the Board’s attention because it was posed to Town Planner Alec Wade earlier this month by an arborist affiliated with a project at 1414 Massachusetts Avenue. While the Board did not have details about the project at 1414 Massachusetts Avenue, Board members discussed the scope and requirements of the tree bylaw, including whether the tree “survey” required by the bylaw could be accomplished by a representative sample and whether the “survey” is required for the entire property or only for the “disturbance of land” area. 

  

The Board also discussed plans for Annual Town Meeting presentations and held a goal-setting session to consider fifteen potential Planning Board goals and potential next steps. 

Housing Board Considers Revisions to Rental Assistance

(3-MAY-24) At their in-person meeting at Town Hall April 18, the Boxborough Housing Board (BHB) discussed possible revisions to the eligibility criteria for the Boxborough Rental Assistance Program (BRAP). 

  

BHB members observed that in some cases BRAP’s rent-burden requirement resulted in disqualifications that seem inappropriate. The Board voted to consider such an application and asked the Community Services Coordinator to draft a revision to the criteria for discussion at the next BHB meeting.

  

Members Korinne Stephens and Ron Vogel provided an update on the Homeownership Opportunity for Preservation and Equity (HOPE) program. This new program will help owners of affordable homes with the maintenance and preservation of their units. Although the board discussed estimates of the scope and cost of the program, the most effective and cost-efficient way to interact with contractors remains unclear. The BHB decided to seek legal guidance before proceeding further. 

  

The BHB will hold its next public meeting in person at Town Hall at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 9.

Finance Committee Revotes Funding Source for Article 42

(3-MAY-24) At its meeting on April 23, the Finance Committee (FinCom) discussed and revoted the funding source for Article 42 in the Annual Town Meeting Warrant, “Professional Services for a New Fire Station.”

  

Chair Maria Neyland reported unanticipated revenues from “local receipts” for fiscal year 2024 projected at $200K. Local receipts include revenues from motor vehicle excise taxes, meals from food establishments, and hotel room taxes. 

  

The town also projected unspent budgets of $425K from the Department of Public Works (snow and ice), dispatch, and the “reserve fund,” which covers extraordinary and unforeseen expenses.

  

Revenues from local receipts and unspent budgets will flow back into free cash for fiscal year 2025. Free cash is a term that refers to money that is left over at the end of the fiscal year.

  

Under the circumstances, FinCom members agreed there was sufficient free cash to fund the entire amount of Article 42, which does not increase the tax burden on residents. The vote was unanimous.  

  

FinCom originally voted $350K in taxation (yearly impact of $178 for an average single-family home) and $150K in free cash to fund Article 42.  

Burglars Charged for Thefts in 25 Towns, Including Boxborough

(3-MAY-24) On April 18, four Rhode Island men were indicted for 95 counts of “unarmed … breaking and entering” in connection with burglaries in 25 Massachusetts towns, including Boxborough.

According to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and State Police Colonel John Mawn, Jr., the thieves have been indicted for 43 burglaries they carried out during the last six years. Boxborough and other 24 Massachusetts towns took part in “a terrific example of multiple agencies working together to solve a very complex case,” according to Boxborough Police Chief John Szewczyk. 

During the nine-month investigation, DA Ryan’s office, State Police, and the State Police Division of Homeland Security received support from Boxborough and other nearby police departments, including Billerica, Carlisle, Lincoln, Weston, Sudbury, Hudson, and Littleton. The DA’s office says the value of stolen property “exceeds $4 million,” including jewelry, cash, and even “locked safes, weighing up to 400 pounds.”

According to the DA’s office, the defendants “were very sophisticated” and “part of an organized burglary ring with ties to a violent Providence-based gang….”   The DA observed that the thieves most often targeted households which “were more likely to contain … valuable heirlooms” with cultural and emotional value. 

According to Channel 7 News, DA Ryan said that the burglars used ladders to enter second-floor windows, “avoided cameras, and used Wi-Fi jamming technology to hide their identities.” DA Ryan also said, “authorities will work to identify stolen items and have them returned.” Chief Szewczyk thanked DA Marian Ryan and her office for their commitment to “ensuring justice … for the many victims in this case.”

The State Police Division of Homeland Security includes the MACrimeNet program which helps share intelligence with different police departments to “solve complex or cross-jurisdictional cases.” Chief Szewczyk commended the work of the Boxborough Police Detective Unit for their “important role” in working with “multiple partner agencies throughout Middlesex County” and New England, including towns in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.

  

In addition to the Massachusetts thefts in and near Boxborough, break-ins also occurred in Easton, Hopkinton, Andover, Bellingham, Boxford, Franklin, Medway, Middleton, Millis, North Attleboro, Norwell, Pembroke, Seekonk, Sharon, Southborough, Wenham, and Westwood.

Why Are They Running? Statements from the Boxborough Candidates


(3-MAY-24) On May 21, 2024, Boxborough voters will elect candidates to fill nine town positions. Offices on the 2024 town ballot are Select Board (two seats), School Committee (one seat), Planning Board (one seat), Library Trustees (two seats), Board of Health (one seat), Town Moderator (one seat), and Constable (one seat).

  

The only contested race is for the Planning Board seat. 

  

Boxborough News reached out to all candidates and asked them to answer the question “Why are you running?” The responses that we received are printed below. Please note that we did not receive a statement from Owen Neville (candidate for Constable).

  

Statements have not been edited by Boxborough News.

David McKiernan, Select Board

David McKiernan, Select Board: Last year, I decided to run for the Select Board because I was concerned about how the town was being managed and how our residents were so strongly divided. I wanted to help. One year later, I’m happy to say that I no longer have those concerns. Why? The Select Board members are working well together and have made it a priority to be inclusive and ensure that residents are listened to. The town hall has a great staff with excellent new additions under the direction of our outstanding town administrator. Our police department has a new chief who brings new ideas while he continues to build the department. Our fire department is finally seeing some progress for a new, safe building after 10+ years. I’ve enjoyed working with so many committee members and residents over the past year and I’d like to build off the progress we’ve made.


Bob Stemple, Select Board

Bob Stemple, Select Board: I want to continue my services to the taxpayers of Boxborough by becoming a member of the Town’s Select Board. I’m finishing up my 1 year term on the Finance Committee and have served on 3 prior select boards for 9 continuous years as part of a team leading the Town through many improvements including, a change in our school structure by adding the Blanchard Elementary School to the regional network, changing the structure of the Town Hall positions, thereby helping the residents maintain an affordable tax basis while acknowledging the ever-increasing costs to protect us, to provide the residents with their requested services, and to raise our children. I believe my prior service as a part time Boxborough Firefighter for 27 years provides me with a sense of what the residents expect from a small struggling residential town with a dwindling commercial presence. This combined with having 2 children go through the Blanchard, the R.J. Grey Jr. High, and the AB High School required my wife and I to work through financial choices to maintain the quality of life we wanted in Boxborough and still do.

Adam Klein, School Committee

Adam Klein, School Committee: Hi, I’m Adam Klein, a resident of Boxborough for nine years and a six-year member of the school committee. I seek reelection to uphold our schools' success and stability. I've witnessed how stable leadership and community engagement shape our district. I'm dedicated to fostering an inclusive learning environment while addressing fiscal challenges. As our district faces crucial years ahead, I aim to maintain our community's expected excellence through careful fiscal planning and collaboration. With your support, I'll continue advocating for quality education, ensuring all students in Boxborough receive the excellence they deserve.


Than Stuntz, Planning Board

Than Stuntz, Planning Board: As a passionate advocate for sustainable growth, I am running for the planning board to ensure that Boxborourgh’s development aligns with long-term prosperity, responsible growth and environmental stewardship. Our town faces many challenges in the near and long term; we need to thoughtfully plan our future for a vibrant rural community.  My commitment is to balance economic advancement with ecological responsibility, fostering a future where business thrives in harmony with our long-term vision for the town. I envision a town where sustainable practices are not just encouraged but integrated into the very fabric of our commercial and residential spaces.  We can create vibrant, resilient development that serves as a model for sustainable commercial development while also supporting green infrastructure, renewable energy, and innovative design. Join me in shaping a legacy of sustainable growth for the benefit of our town.


Rebecca Verner, Planning Board

Rebecca Verner, Planning Board: As a resident of Boxborough, contributing to this community to ensure that we are moving toward a sustainable future is important to me. As an experienced Landscape Architect specializing in site planning, I understand the complex regulatory issues, development opportunities/challenges facing Boxborough. I will continue to promote sustainability and green energy in our community. As a Planning Board member, I have done so through the compilation of several town approved bylaws, including Dark-Sky Lighting, Solar, Stormwater, and Tree Protection. Looking forward, I plan to promote regulations to ensure the protection of the town’s water supply/natural resources, support thoughtful development including the revitalization of unused office space, and encourage affordable housing and appropriate planning for MBTA Community zoning. With my professional expertise and proven track record, I know how to encourage appropriate land use with a vision of long-term sustainability and would like to continue to contribute to these goals.


Mary Brolin, Library Trustee

Mary Brolin, Library Trustee: Hi, my name is Mary Brolin. I am currently a Library Trustee and am running for another term. The Library Director has been involved in a strategic planning process that has resulted in a plan to renovate the interior of the library to improve services, accessibility and space for our patrons. I am very invested in supporting the Library Director to finalize the renovation plans, share them with the community and get the funding needed to implement the changes. We will seek support from the Sargent Memorial Library Foundation, a state grant, and from the Town through a warrant article. I have experience in all of these areas, and with a recent building project to bring to this work. I also have experience in budgets and policy development to support the everyday operations of the Library. I look forward to continuing the work of the Library and supporting our patrons.


Teresina Tremblay, Library Trustee

Teresina Tremblay, Library Trustee: Hi Neighbors, I am Teresina (Terra) Tremblay and would appreciate your support by receiving your vote on May 21st for Library Trustee.  As a Boxborough resident for 10 years, I have become a frequent visitor of the Sargent Memorial Library.  The Sargent Memorial Library is a space for everyone, with programs and resources that reflect our diverse and welcoming community.  It is a place I have always seen as pillars of community, knowledge, and growth.  I am excited to have the opportunity to become a Trustee. Although this position is unopposed, I appreciate your support for myself and any other candidates with whom you most closely align.


Lori Lotterman, Board of Health

Lori Lotterman, Board of Health: Hello Boxborough, my name is Lori Lotterman and I am running for renewal on the Board of Health committee. Over the past three years, the committee distributed Covid test kits, reviewed new and replacement septic systems, contracted with Central MA to spray the larvae of mosquitoes, and updated some of our bylaws to just name a few of our accomplishments. I have been an active participant in these reviews/discussions. I am a 30-year resident of Boxborough and previously served on the Boxborough Information Technology Committee. I would be honored to serve another term on the Board of Health.

Dennis Reip, Moderator

Dennis Reip, Moderator: I am running for reelection to the one-year term for Town Moderator so that I can continue to serve the Town in this essential role. I offer the voters the right combination of experience, ability, and interest to perform as their Moderator. I have presided over 3 Town Meetings in my 2 terms of service and have demonstrated my commitment to providing a fair and productive meeting experience for all. I understand how Town Meeting is supposed to work and will continue to seek ways to improve the meeting process and voter experience by working in partnership with the Select Board, Town Clerk, and Town Administrator. As the appointing authority over the Finance Committee, I will continue to seek qualified volunteers to serve on the Finance Committee. I welcome the opportunity to continue my service to the Town as its Moderator and respectfully ask for your vote on May 21st. 


Craft Food Halls Opens Boxborough Location, Announces Grand Opening Events


(26-APR-24) On Thursday, April 25, Craft Food Halls opened its eleventh location at 500 Beaver Brook Road in Boxborough. 

  

The day featured an official ribbon-cutting, live music, a “tap takeover” with Zero Gravity Craft Brewery, and a meet-and-greet with Boxborough Police K-9 Koda. 


By 6 p.m., tables, lounge areas, and the sunny patio were filled with curious and excited guests of all ages coming to check out the space, try out the “beer wall,” and decide on their first food order. 

  

The grand opening festivities will continue through the weekend with the Red Bull Mobile DJ Truck from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, April 26; a “Tiki Day” with live music and Short Path distillery on Saturday, April 27; and an “artisan fair” with local craft vendors from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 28. There are events in the works for the month of May as well, including “Blues & Brews” live music on Sunday afternoons.

  

It's clear that Boxborough has a warm, inviting, and vibrant community that will collaborate incredibly well with Craft Food Halls' Mission, which is to represent love - both in hospitality and in life,” said Matthew Leppek, Craft Food Halls Director of Marketing. “Our Vision is to be the destination where guests feel themselves rooted in, essentially meaning we want them to feel comfortable and at home in our space. Through the many activities and experiences that we offer, we are confident that Boxborough residents will have a space to escape, unwind, and celebrate love for one another.”

  

The restaurant will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The menu includes burgers, sandwiches, tacos, pizza, grain bowls, and salads that can be ordered using a QR code and picked up from the counter. 

  

There is a bar as well as a “pour-your-own beer wall” which lets patrons pour their own beer, wine, and cider. The space includes high-top and low-top seating; ping pong, foosball, and lawn games; and a patio with outdoor seating and a firepit. 

  

Two days before it opened, the restaurant hosted a “Media, VIP, Friends and Family” night with food, drink, and music. Roughly 250 people attended, including Boxborough Town Hall staff and members of Boxborough boards and committees. 

  

"We would love to humbly thank Boxborough for welcoming our presence with hugs and smiles; it's truly a blessing to be accepted with open arms,” said Leppek. 

  

More information about the grand opening weekend, visit https://bit.ly/3QeEQhF

Select Board Rejects Building Committee’s Revisions to Fire Station Warrant Article


(26-APR-24) At its meeting on April 22, the Select Board discussed potential changes to Article 42 on the Town Meeting Warrant, “Professional Services for New Fire Station.” The changes, recommended by a unanimous vote of the Building Committee at its April 17 meeting, reduced both the dollar amount of the article and the scope of services.

  

After much discussion, Select Board Chair Kristin Hilberg’s motion to reduce the dollar amount of Article 42 from $500,000 to $250,000 in accordance with the Building Committee’s recommendation did not pass. Hilberg and Priya Sundaram voted in favor of the motion; Wes Fowlks and Dave McKiernan voted against the motion.

  

The Town Administrator clarified that the text of the warrant cannot be changed at this time, since it has been printed and will be posted imminently; however, a reduction of the funds and services in Article 42 could be presented as an amendment on Town Meeting floor.

  

The Building Committee’s proposed revisions to Article 42 included decreasing the total funds requested from $500,000 to $250,000; funding only a preliminary “conceptual” design instead of a “schematic” design or “construction” design; identifying four properties for which conceptual designs and budgets will be developed; and removing funding for an Owner’s Project Manager. 

  

Before voting on whether to accept the Building Committee’s revisions, Select Board members discussed the purpose of Article 42, how the funds would be used, and the pros and cons of reducing the funding and scope of services as recommended by the Building Committee. The Board took comments from the public as well.

  

In other business, the Select Board heard the Q3 Finance Report presented by Town Accountant Kelli Pontbriand and Treasurer/Collector Naomi Quansah. They reported on Q3 activities and indicated that the town is in good shape with respect to both expenses and revenues. Accountant Pontbriand noted that all American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds must be spent or committed with contracts in hand by December 2024. She suggested that the town make a plan for how to spend the remaining funds, which total just over one million dollars.

  

The Board also unanimously approved a revised Boxborough Sustainability Policy presented by Kate Davies, co-chair of the Sustainability Committee. The Policy is intended to “support coordinated, ambitious, fact-based decision making and actions across all Town departments, committees, and groups, in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050, as set out in the Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2050, and to prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change on the Town.” 

Oscar's Burritos Receives Boxborough Business Grant Funds

Economic Development Committee Chair Rich Guzzardi presents a small business grant check for $20,000 to Oscar and Dalia Garcia, owners of Oscar's Burritos. The grant program is run by the Boxborough Economic Development Committee and funded by Boxborough’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) appropriation. The Garcias will use the funds to renovate their restaurant at 34 Massachusetts Avenue to accommodate a new breakfast café and coffee bar where they will offer coffee and assorted muffins and pastries. Also pictured: Town Planner Alec Wade (l), Select Board Member Dave McKiernan (r).

Building Committee Rewrites Warrant Article 42, Walks Through All Properties Considered for Fire Station

(26-APR-24) At its meeting on April 17, the Boxborough Building Committee (BBC) rewrote Warrant Article 42, “Professional Services for New Fire Station,” and voted unanimously to send the revised language to the Select Board for consideration.

  

The proposed revisions, drafted by BBC member Larry Grossman, include decreasing the total funds requested from $500k to $250k; funding only a preliminary “conceptual” design instead of a “schematic” design or “construction” design; identifying four properties for which conceptual designs and budgets will be developed; and removing funding for an Owner’s Project Manager.

  

The revisions are intended to simplify the warrant article in response to feedback from the public and make clear that (1) four potential fire station sites are being studied, and (2) the requested $250k will be used to develop conceptual designs and associated budgets for those four sites.  

  

The Committee also walked through a list of fifteen properties that the town had previously considered as potential fire station sites. For each, Committee member Les Fox recounted the studies completed with respect to the site, the pros and cons of the site, and – if applicable – the reasons the site was not pursued further. The Committee then voted unanimously to not engage in further consideration of eleven properties, leaving four properties for further study: the site of the current fire station, at 502 Mass Ave., and 72 Stow Road; and if they are available for sale, 700 Mass Ave., and 1320 Mass Ave. 

  

The Committee agreed on two immediate next steps as it continues to analyze the four remaining potential properties. First, town consultant Context Architecture will provide an overlay of various size facilities on the site of the existing fire station and denote any limitations of that site. Second, the town will have a traffic safety engineer analyze emergency vehicle egress from 700 Mass Ave., which has been an ongoing concern with that particular site.

  

The Select Board is expected to take up the Building Committee’s proposed Article 42 revisions at its meeting on Monday, April 22. The Building Committee will meet again on Wednesday, April 24. 

Town Hazard Mitigation Plan Comment Period Open Through April 30

(26-APR-24) A draft Hazard Mitigation Plan for the Town of Boxborough is available for public comment through April 30. The draft plan can be found on the town’s website at https://bit.ly/3w0jIVr

  

“Implementation of this plan will significantly enhance our resilience to hazards such as flooding, snowstorms, high winds, and extreme temperatures,” says Town Planner Alec Wade.

  

Once the town adopts the final plan and it is approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the town will be eligible to pursue “pre- and post-disaster hazard mitigation grant opportunities.”

  

Hard copies of the draft plan are available for in-person review at the Town Planner’s Office, 29 Middle Road, and at Sargent Memorial Library. Feedback can be provided by completing a Google Form at https://bit.ly/3w0jIVr or at the hard copy viewing locations.

  

The Hazard Mitigation Plan “identifies and prioritizes strategies to mitigate the impacts of natural hazards and climate change on our community.” It was developed by Boxborough’s 17-member Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee in collaboration with Jamie Caplan Consulting, LLC, with funding support from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. 

  

“Public engagement lies at the core of our Hazard Mitigation Plan,” says Wade. “It is imperative that this plan reflects the diverse perspectives and priorities of our community members as we move to mitigate risks posed by natural hazards and climate change.”

  

For more information, contact Town Planner Alec Wade at 978-264-1723 or awade@boxborough-ma.gov

Acton-Boxborough Receives National Recognition for Music Education Support

(26-APR-24) The Acton-Boxborough Regional School District (ABRSD) has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) designation from the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation (NAMM) for outstanding commitment to music education. 

This is the fifth time that ABRSD has received the designation; ABRSD is one of 23 school districts in the state to receive the award.

To qualify for the BCME designation, the District answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, teacher-student ratio, teacher qualifications, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs. Responses were verified by school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas. 

George Arsenault, Director of Performing Arts for ABRSD, said,  “We’re very proud our community continues providing meaningful music education to all students. It can be difficult for communities to balance the staffing, scheduling, infrastructure, and budgetary considerations needed to maintain a flourishing yet sustainable music program.”

Now in its 25th year, the BCME designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement for providing music access and education to all students. It recognizes outstanding efforts by teachers, parents, and community leaders who have made music education part of a well-rounded education.

Arsenault commented, “For decades, Acton-Boxborough has supported efforts in music education, resulting in outstanding achievement, student and community engagement, modern teaching methods, and a music community that is strong enough to weather the most challenging of times.”

While there is no monetary award, the benefit of receiving this designation is to increase the visibility of the music program and get community and national recognition. Arsenault continued “Our recognition by the NAMM foundation is one of the many data points we use to calibrate our efforts to bring the best education to all of our students. As a result, we continue to realize the profound positive impacts that a comprehensive music education can have on our entire community.”

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its 15,000 global member companies and individual professionals worldwide. 

The foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs. For more information about The NAMM Foundation, please visit www.nammfoundation.org. For more information about this award, go to bit.ly/3xyN8ue.

Building Committee Hears Presentation on Feasibility of Stow Road Site for Fire Station

(19-APR-24) At its meeting on April 10, the Boxborough Building Committee (BBC) listened to a presentation by Jeff Shaw, Principal at Context Architecture, a firm that specializes in public safety and municipal projects and is under contract with the Town to provide design services for a new fire station. 

  

During his presentation, Shaw outlined the services that Context is currently providing to the town, which include a conceptual design, or footprint, that can be used to test the building on various sites. Shaw used that conceptual design to look specifically at the Stow Road site to evaluate how well the building footprint would fit on that site. Context has been working directly with fire department personnel to evaluate the initial layout and get their feedback from a technical operations standpoint. 

  

Shaw addressed Article 42 on this year’s ATM warrant; the article requests $500,000 for design services and an owner’s project manager (OPM). He indicated that potential services could include the exploration of alternative sites and plans, including the existing fire station site. The current conceptual plan for a stand alone fire station calls for a 24,000 square foot building. 

  

To demonstrate how much space the stand-alone fire station would take on the Stow Road site, Shaw presented two schematic site plans. Shaw stressed the preliminary nature of the schematic, saying the “exercise is to understand how a building might fit on this site, not necessarily that this is the site you have to use.” 

  

In the first schematic, the profile from Stow Road is narrow, with the garage bays on the left, or north, side of the building. The second view showed the garage bays facing Stow Road, and Shaw indicated that this design takes up less room on the site. He added that “these [schematics] do not represent Context’s final recommendation or final design and do not encompass all viewpoints.” 

  

Almost all members of the BBC had questions regarding the site, the size of the building, and the cost. Several members of the public were also present and asked questions about alternative sites and building size.

  

The BBC will meet again on April 17 at 7 p.m. via Zoom to discuss ATM Article 42 as well as next steps for the fire station.

EDC Holds Public Hearings on Grant Applications From Swymfit and Blossom Bees Honey Company 

(19-APR-24) On Thursday, April 11, the Economic Development Committee held public hearings on two Boxborough Business Grant applications.

   

The first public hearing was a continuation of a March 28 hearing on an application submitted by Steve Victorson on behalf of Swymfit, a health and fitness club at 90 Swanson Road, Boxborough. 

  

After concluding the hearing, the EDC voted to approve a $12,577 grant to Swymfit to replace gym equipment and flooring, provide staff training, and improve its website. The approval is contingent on the successful completion of a contract.

  

The second public hearing was on a new application submitted by Tyler Marchegiani on behalf of Blossom Bees Honey Co., at 99 Whitcomb Road, Boxborough.

  

The applicant seeks $20,000 to expand retail presence, establish pop-up shops, expand e-commerce, implement marketing strategies and community education programs, increase honey production and processing, and launch new product lines. 

  

After the applicant presented an overview of his business and his plans for the funds, the committee requested additional financial information, a business plan, and more detail about how the funds will be used. The committee voted to continue the hearing to May 9.

  

The grant program is run by the Boxborough Economic Development Committee and is funded by Boxborough’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) appropriation. The program provides up to $20,000 in matching funds as a forgivable loan to small Boxborough businesses that meet the requirements of the program. 

  

Since the program began in 2023, the EDC has awarded grants to Two Friends Chocolate (629 Massachusetts Avenue) for a hot chocolate shop; to Oscar’s Burritos (34 Massachusetts Avenue) for café-style coffee in the morning hours; and to AlphaCars (649 Massachusetts Avenue) for the hiring of a social media specialist to generate increased business.

Steele Farmhouse Repairs Have Started; Grounds Maintenance Plan Moves Forward

(19-APR-24) At its meeting on April 11, Steele Farm Committee Chair Christoper Hydak reported that the Phase II effort to preserve the envelope of the 1784 Levi Wetherbee farmhouse at Steele Farm has started. Scaffolding has been erected around the building, and repairs on the roof and chimney are underway. In addition, bids for the restoration of the ice house are being revised and will go out for rebid soon. 

  

In addition to the farmhouse and icehouse, the Committee has made considerable progress on its initiative to inventory and organize the contents of  the barn. A video catalog has been made of the barn’s contents, and presumptive owners are being contacted. Discussions will be held to determine what should stay at the barn and what should be removed.  

  

The Committee’s proposal to have students work on grounds maintenance during the Acton-Boxborough Regional High School Community Service Day has been approved, and plans have been finalized to have student workers concentrate on removing invasive species and planting trees.

  

The town purchased the Steele Farm property in the fall of 1994, making this year the 30th anniversary of town ownership. The committee is planning a 30th anniversary celebration for early October; details will be arranged over the next few months.  

  

The next meeting of the committee will take place on Thursday May 9, 2024 at the Boxborough Museum, 575 Middle Road, starting at 7 p.m.

Zoning Board Hears Application on 335 Burroughs Road, Approves Deed Rider for Sale of 80 Summer Road  


(19-APR-24) At its meeting on Tuesday, April 9, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) opened the public hearing to review the application submitted by Luis Gutierres who is seeking to operate a driving school at 335 Burroughs Road. ZBA Chair Mark White recused himself due to a conflict of interest, so ZBA Clerk Mark Barbadoro acted as chair and conducted the hearing.

  

A special permit is required for a change of use to a legally non-conforming use. For several years, the site has operated as a shared-use contractors’ yard, with individual contractors renting space within the overall yard. The proposed new use would eliminate the contractors’ use and become a driving school exclusively.

  

After opening the hearing, Barbadoro referenced reports from the town planner and various boards and commissions as well as one that he wrote as the ZBA Clerk. In his report, Barbadoro found that the application does not comply with ZBA rules in that the applicant did not provide a specific plan of the property and “the future use of the property has not been made clear.” 

  

Barbadoro explained that the board can deny the application due to incompleteness and gave the applicant an opportunity to withdraw the application “without prejudice,” which means that the ZBA would not formulate an opinion about the application, giving the applicant an opportunity to reapply with complete information. After several members of the board gave the applicant ideas of the type of information they would be seeking, the applicant chose to withdraw the application “without prejudice.”

  

In other business, Town Planner Alec Wade asked the board to consider and vote on a new universal deed rider on the resale of 80 Summer Road. Wade explained that the Summerfields development was permitted under Chapter 40B, whereby several units are designated as affordable and managed by the Housing Board. The master deed for this unit’s sale needs to be updated with language that preserves the affordability status in the event of a foreclosure.  If the language were not updated and the owner defaulted on their mortgage or a loan against the property, the bank would move to foreclose and could circumvent the affordability process, thereby taking the unit out of Boxborough’s affordable housing stock and, as Wade explained,  “away from a deserving family or individual…This is a huge liability for our affordable housing stock.” Wade urged the board to pass the motion to “enforce the affordable housing restriction deed rider for projects in which affordability restrictions survive foreclosure.” After a brief discussion, the board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Sustainability Committee Examines Police Cruiser, Electricity Costs, Transfer Station Changes

(19-APR-24) At their hybrid meeting April 11, the Boxborough Sustainability Committee looked at the need for a gas-driven police cruiser, the BSC’s charter, electricity rates, pay-as-you-throw, and a possible summer sustainability program.

  

Co-Chairs Kate Davies and Francie Nolde reviewed the police department’s decision to purchase a gas-driven cruiser. Chief John Szewczyk told the BSC he hopes the town’s next cruiser will be an EV or hybrid if Ford can supply the cruiser and parts to keep it on the road. 

  

The BSC unanimously voted to ask the Select Board to approve changes to the BSC charter, to allow the committee to continue to have co-chairs and to change the number of voting members to a range between 5 and 11, including one student member advised by a BSC mentor.

  

BSC member Barbara Salzman and Boxborough resident Marjorie Kamp gave a brief overview of a BSC meeting with Littleton Electric Light Department to learn about LELD’s solar energy policies, how peaks in electric use affect cost, and how homeowners’ reducing use of fossil fuel and increasing use of electricity may affect cost.

  

An LELD administrator took notes at the meeting; at a future BSC meeting, members will discuss those minutes and share findings with the public.

  

During the summer, Davies, Nolde, and BSC members Richard Garrison, Palmer Moore, and Andrew Tavolacci agreed to look more closely at a pay-as-you-throw program to see if it may significantly reduce the town’s cost for hauling trash from the transfer station. The BSC will also see if the town might add a swap shed to the transfer station.

  

Davies will craft a proposal to ask Town Planner Alec Wade to make sustainability one of the three topics for residents to study in the coming summer.

  

Before adjourning, the BSC expressed concern about an increased number of private jets adding noise and carbon pollution on the Hanscom Field flight path over Boxborough.

  

The BSC’s next hybrid meeting will be at 7 p.m. May 9.

Select Board Discusses Hill Road Traffic, Vocational Schools, Restaurant Entertainment

(19-APR-24) At its meeting on April 8, the Select Board discussed concerns about Hill Road traffic, including speeding and also the high volume of traffic that is rerouted onto Hill Road when there is a motor vehicle accident or other slowdown on Interstate 495.

  

Police Chief Szewczyk and Sergeant Brett Pelley spoke about traffic enforcement generally and about Hill Road specifically. The Chief announced that there are now “fillable forms” on the police department website that allow residents to request the town’s “speed trailer” be placed at a certain location. 

  

The speed trailer tells drivers how fast they are going and also collects traffic data for the police department. The Chief also announced a “safe streets initiative” that the department is launching in May to focus on “traffic enforcement” and “traffic education” in a more proactive way, instead of being primarily “reactionary.”

  

As for Hill Road, the Chief confirmed that they are well aware of the I-495 rerouting issue but that there is “no way to take Hill Road off” the navigation apps that send drivers onto Hill Road to get around I-495 slowdowns. 

  

The Chief noted that the department is typically called to the scene of any incident causing a I-495 slowdown and that officers are directed to go to Hill Road as soon as they are freed up from the highway incident. Officer Pelley noted that the town cannot simply close Hill Road; the town previously received a reprimand from Mass DOT for barricading Hill Road during slowdowns on I-495.

  

The Board also discussed strategies to address Hill Road speeding, including painting lines on the road, speed bumps, temporary speed bumps, and different types of signage – including signs with built-in radar. The Board decided to look into purchasing radar signs.

  

The Select Board also heard from the Assistant Town Administrator Rajon Hudson about Boxborough’s search for potential vocational tech school membership. Hudson has reached out to nine area vocational tech schools to inquire about potential membership and intends to set up introductory meetings where possible. 

  

Boxborough is not currently a member of any vocational tech school. At present, the town has four students attending vocational schools; the Select Board indicated that more students in town would likely be interested in attending and that becoming a member of a vocational school would create good opportunities for Boxborough students.

  

Vocational schools typically consider applications from students in member towns before considering applications from students in non-member towns. Hudson will continue to update the Board on this issue. 

    

After a short public hearing, the board voted to grant two entertainment licenses to Craft Food Halls, the new restaurant at 500 Beaver Brook Road that is expected to open this month. A representative from Craft Food Halls told the Board that the restaurant may have live music for special events or during normal business hours.

  

The Select Board also voted to authorize the town to join the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association (MIIA) Health Benefits Trust for health insurance starting July 1, 2024.

School Committee Appoints New Assistant Superintendent, Discusses School Choice and Health Insurance

(12-APR-24) At its April 4 meeting, the School Committee voted to appoint Dr. Gabrielle Abrams as the new Assistant Superintendent for Teaching & Learning, effective July 1, 2024. Dr. Abrams is currently the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment for the Medway Public Schools.

  

The Committee held a short public hearing on the FY2025 MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) School Choice Program. The DESE School Choice program allows families to send their child to a school district other than the district where the child lives. ABRSD has been withdrawn from the DESE School Choice program since 2021. At the recommendation of Superintendent Peter Light, the School Committee voted to remain withdrawn from the program.  

  

The Committee also heard an update on the Acton Health Insurance Trust, which is again experiencing higher-than-projected claims and insufficient funds to pay anticipated claims. The Trust is requesting that ABRSD and the Town of Action pre-pay premiums for the remainder of the year, and the Trust may need to request additional funds for FY24 claims. The district has a contingency fund in the FY2025 budget for this purpose, but it is possible that a future request from the Trust may exceed the amount budgeted.

  

The Committee clarified its March 7, 2024 vote with respect to withdrawal from the Trust, voting that the Committee’s active participation in the Trust for purposes of providing health insurance shall end on June 30, 2024; the Committee will remain a participating member of the Trust through June 30, 2026 for the purpose of paying runout claims; and that the Trust will dissolve as of June 30, 2026. 

Building Committee Moves Forward with Fire Station Plans

(12-APR-24) Building Committee members agree: the town needs a new fire station. However, not all agree where it should be built, how big it should be, and how much money should be spent to build it. At its meeting on Wednesday, April 3, the Boxborough Building Committee focused on the Annual Town Meeting Warrant Article 42 to fund “professional design and owner’s project manager (OPM)  services related to the construction of a new fire station.”

  

Earlier this year, the BBC voted to recommend the Select Board use the 70-72 Stow Road site for a new fire station. This property is currently under the control of the Housing Board, which voted in favor of transferring the land to the town and using the proceeds to fund affordable housing programs rather than building affordable housing on the land.

  

In fall 2023, the Housing Board sought an appraisal for the property. A subcommittee comprising the Select Board, Affordable Housing Trust, and Housing Board reviewed the appraisals and voted unanimously to move forward with a $1.2 million purchase price, whether it is used for the fire station or another purpose. 

  

Not all members of the BBC voted in favor of the Stow Road site, and a number of residents have voiced objections to the selected site. The Select Board’s Annual Town Meeting warrant article seeks funds to progress the fire station design concepts and an OPM to facilitate the process.

   

The OPM’s role will include working with the architect to look at options on a given site and look at the space needs. Fire Captain Jason Malinowski said, “it’s important to remember when we go into the next phase of design…We must look at multiple sites. Even though the BBC voted on Stow Road, one of the things in the scope of design services is site analysis. (They will) ask questions like ‘why can’t we build on the current site or other sites brought to the committee?’ The architect needs to look at a variety of options. But they are using the Stow Road site now for layout and how many acres (are) needed.”

  

BBC member and professional architect Larry Grossman commented that an OPM will not select the site for the town, but will use their professional experience to answer questions such as will the building fit on the selected site? Is the access right? Is there enough area for sewage, wells, roadways? Is the building one story or two stories? “An OPM is data driven…they are not the decision makers. They work for us.”

   

On Wednesday, April 10, the Building Committee will meet with Context Architecture, the firm under contract to provide design services to the town. The committee will then schedule listening sessions for the public to view designs and express their opinions. 

EDC Holds Public Hearing on Swymfit Grant Application

(12-APR-24) On Thursday, March 28, the Economic Development Committee held a public hearing on a Boxborough Business Grant application submitted by Steve Victorson on behalf of Swymfit, a health and fitness club at 90 Swanson Road, Boxborough.

  

The applicant seeks $12,577 to replace gym equipment and flooring, provide staff training, and improve its website. After the applicant presented his plans for the funds, the Committee requested additional information and voted to continue the public hearing to April 11. The Committee will vote whether to issue an award letter at the April 11 hearing.  

  

EDC intern J.P. LoGiudice reported to the Committee that a new application for a Boxborough Business Grant has been recently submitted by Blossom Bees Honey. The Committee will hold a public hearing on the new application on April 11.

  

Town Planner Alec Wade reported that prior award recipient Rest Assured Remediation has withdrawn his application. The Committee voted to accept the withdrawal and rescind the EDC’s conditional award of $20,000.

  

The grant program is run by the Boxborough Economic Development Committee and is funded by Boxborough’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) appropriation. The program provides up to $20,000 in matching funds as a forgivable loan to small Boxborough businesses that meet the requirements of the program. Since the program began in 2023, the EDC has awarded grants to Two Friends Chocolate (629 Massachusetts Avenue) for a hot chocolate shop; to Oscar’s Burritos (34 Massachusetts Avenue) for café-style coffee in the morning hours; and to AlphaCars (649 Massachusetts Avenue) for the hiring of a social media specialist to generate increased business.

  

The Committee also approved a 60-hour extension of the EDC internship, requested by Town Planner Wade. The internship extension will be funded by the town’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. 

DEI Committee Discusses SPCP Event and 2024 Goals

(12-APR-24) On Tuesday, March 26, the town’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (DEIC) met via Zoom with a robust agenda. The committee first spent time recapping the Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships (SPCP) event that took place at Blanchard School on March 16. 

Multiple committee members were present at the event and participated in the morning and afternoon discussions facilitated by conciliation specialists from the U.S. Department of Justice. At least two DEIC members - Wes Fowlks and Amy Osenar - volunteered to join the proposed special advisory council that would report directly to Police Chief John Szewczyk and would oversee the implementation of any recommendations from the final DOJ report, which the town should receive in about a month. 

  

There was a general feeling of success following the event even amidst some to-be-expected tension. “There were definitely some sparks,” one committee member reflected, “but it was productive, too.” The event reportedly was well attended by a diversity of folks, including a strong representation of Boxborough police officers, members of the school community, the Acton Police Chief and Deputy Chief (also a Boxborough resident) and some 50 residents.

  

Also discussed were actions to take on the DEIC’s goals for 2024, of which they have set five.

  

The DEIC meets on an as-needed basis and voted to meet again after Annual Town Meeting. 

Yard Waste Burning Open Until May 1

(12-APR-24) As spring is upon us, some residents will be turning to open burning to rid their yards of winter debris. Those who do so need to be aware of the regulations which include a requirement to register each day of burning with the fire department. 

  

This year's burning season runs until May 1. Burning is permitted between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; however, burning is banned on days when air quality is deemed unacceptable (for example particularly dry and/or windy days) and fires would pose a danger. 

  

Material that may be burned includes brush, cane, driftwood, and forestry debris from other than commercial or industrial land clearing. Prohibited is burning of grass, hay, leaves, stumps, tires, construction materials, demolition debris, and household trash.

  

Residents must register with the Boxborough Fire Department each day they wish to burn. They may register online at https://bit.ly/3KILVES (link only works on days burning is permitted) or by telephoning the fire department at (978) 264-1770.

  

Additional information on burning policies, procedures and daily burn status appears at https://bit.ly/3miEkmW.

Working Group Discusses Future “Village Center” for Boxborough

(12-APR-24) Sidewalks, public parks, cafes, and Route 111 crosswalks. All were on the table as town consultant Tighe & Bond presented two different “village center revitalization” options to a cross-committee working group on Thursday, March 28.

  

The town has hired consultants Tighe & Bond and Innes Associates to carry out a village center revitalization project funded by a Community Planning Grant secured by Boxborough’s Economic Development Committee. The long-term goal of the project is to “create a new village center in Boxborough’s Business and Town Center zoning districts.” A public forum was held in February. The consultants will give the town a final report and recommendations in mid-May.

  

In the March 28 session, the first of three working group sessions, Sharon Rooney of Tighe & Bond presented two options for the nine participants to consider.

  

Option A envisions improvements to the north side of Route 111 and focuses on connecting Town Hall to the library. It includes community space and gathering areas at and behind the town hall, as well as an event space, playground, and picnic area at the library. The two properties would be connected by a sidewalk along Route 111, as well as a trail system that would also connect to the Blanchard school.

  

Option B envisions improvements on the south side of Route 111 and focuses on the municipal land on the east side of Stow Road. The plan includes a fire station, police station, gathering and recreation space, and preservation of the historic house on the property.

  

Tighe & Bond also discussed the town’s existing zoning regulations and how they “may or may not facilitate these concepts.”

  

After Rooney’s presentation, working group members had the opportunity to give feedback. Comments centered around how components from both options could potentially be combined into a single comprehensive revitalization plan. Several members agreed that the next iteration of the plan should focus on the “four corners” around the intersection of Route 111 and Middle and Stow Roads.

  

The working group will meet again in late April. The session will be open to the public. A recording of the March 28 session is available at https://bit.ly/Village-Center .

photo credit: Gary D. Alpert; Ph.D.; Northern Arizona University; Department of Biological Sciences 

Aerial Spraying for Mosquito Prevention to Begin in April

(5-APR-24) Spring has sprung in Boxborough, and if you live near a wetland, you may be enjoying the loud chirps of the peepers (tree frogs). But, the wetlands are also the primary breeding ground of mosquitoes which can carry West Nile virus and the virus that causes Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Both of these viruses threaten the health of humans and livestock and have been found in Middlesex and Worcester counties in the past few years. 

  

The Boxborough Board of Health coordinates with the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project (CMMCP) to help reduce the impact of mosquitoes in Boxborough by spraying larvicide over the wetlands.

  

Residents can expect to see low-flying helicopters dispensing larvicide over Boxborough’s wetlands later this month. The aerial larvicide application (drop) is typically performed during the April school vacation week after the CMMCP field technicians have checked the sample locations to verify larvae status. The goal is to kill the larvae just as they hatch for maximum impact.

  

CMMCP uses an environmentally sensitive product known as Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) to control the larval mosquito. When the mosquito eats the Bti spores and crystals, they enter the larvae's stomach and dissolve. These crystals produce a toxin that is fatal to the mosquito, but has little or no impact on other aquatic life that eat it or come in contact with it, and it is harmless to humans. 

  

According to Boxborough Board of Health chair Marie Cannon, “In past years, the impact rate has been 80-90% reduction which is very good. Since the Blanchard School site is one of the key locations, we prefer to avoid doing the ‘drop’ while school is in session.” Cannon recalls only one time in the past 10-15 years that the drop was done when school was in session and believes that it was delayed likely due to heavy rain.

  

For more information about the Boxborough Board of Health, visit boxborough-ma.gov/292/Board-of-Health. To learn more about mosquito control, visit CMMCP at cmmcp.org.




Boxborough Police Investigate Report of Priest Lane Home Break-in


(5-APR-24) On Sunday, March 31, Boxborough Police received a call from a Priest Lane resident who reported that they had arrived home from vacation and found that their second floor had been broken into. Officers were dispatched to the home to speak with the homeowners. As part of their investigation, they spoke with several neighbors, who said that they did not see anything suspicious. Police also canvassed the area of Lyons Lane.

  

When reached for comment, Police Chief John Szewczyk stated, ”It is an open investigation that may be related to house breaks in other towns as well so I am unable to provide specific details at this time...We do occasionally have homes that are broken into and we investigate them thoroughly and with other agencies, if warranted.”

Town Issues Zoning Enforcement Letter to New England Tree Masters

(5-APR-24) At the April 1 meeting of the Planning Board, Town Planner Alec Wade announced that Boxborough Building Commissioner and Zoning Enforcement Officer Ed Cataldo issued a Zoning Enforcement Letter to Luis Gutierres of New England Tree Masters identifying two potential violations of Boxborough’s zoning bylaws.

  

The letter states, in part, “after reviewing all information and reviewing the Zoning Regulations, the work which is being conducted at 984 Mass Ave, 996 Mass Ave, and 38 Sara’s Way is well above the preexisting nonconforming business.” The letter states that the potential violator must file a Special Permit Application with the Zoning Board of Appeals and must file for Site Plan Review with the Planning Board.

  

The Board also reviewed and discussed a revised proposal for the traffic study for which the Board is seeking funding at Town Meeting. The Board instructed the Town Planner to go back to the consultant for further cost and scope negotiations.

  

The Board briefly discussed internal goals as well as internal rules and regulations, but deferred a more comprehensive working session to its next meeting since two members were absent. 

FinCom Votes Final Budget, Discusses Fire Station and Conant Elementary

(5-APR-24) At its meeting on March 26, the Finance Committee (FinCom) voted the final town budget, discussed the warrant article on professional services for the new fire station and revised their recommendation in light of new language in the article, and discussed a recent School Committee decision related to Conant Elementary.

  

FinCom voted the final budget of $27,996,663, an increase of 7.87% over last year, which reflects a 14.46% increase in the Acton Boxborough Regional School District (ABRSD) budget and a .23% increase in non-ABRSD budgets. The nominal increase in the non-ABRSD budget is attributed to the reduction in long term debt and regionalization of dispatch.

  

FinCom now estimates the 2024 fiscal year-end excess levy capacity at $863,451.  

  

Town Administration Mike Johns updated FinCom on the current status of building a new fire station and explained the recent changes to the warrant article. Johns noted the Boxborough Building Committee recommended that the Stow Road property be considered for the new fire station, but that some residents want to place the new fire station at the location of the current fire station on Massachusetts Avenue. “It’s probably appropriate that we don’t talk about building this fire station just on Stow Road, even though it very well may end up there,” said Johns. “I think we want to go through the necessary steps to make sure we’ve done our due diligence to get there.” Johns explained that the professionals hired by the town will be able to help evaluate location, needs, and costs of a fire station. 

  

FinCom member and School Committee liaison Gary Kushner reported that the School Committee discussed submitting an application to the Massachusetts School Building Authority to apply for grant money to renovate Conant Elementary School. Previously, the School Committee indicated they planned to look at structural changes to reduce costs for the district, including the possible closure of Conant. Because of the upcoming override vote in the Town of Acton, the School Committee decided to pass over the application for grant money at the present time. However, they did not rule out going forward with renovations rather than consider closure of the school.

 

The next FinCom meeting is scheduled for Tuesday April 9 at 7 PM at Town Hall.  The meeting is hybrid.  

Town Election Candidates File Nomination Papers


(5-APR-24) April 2 was the last day to file nomination papers with the Town Clerk for the May 2024 town election.

  

Offices on the 2024 town ballot are Select Board (two seats), School Committee (one seat), Planning Board (one seat), Library Trustees (two seats), Board of Health (one seat), Town Moderator (one seat), and Constable (one seat).

  

The following individuals have filed nomination papers:   

  

Candidates have until April 18 to withdraw from nomination. On May 2, the League of Women Voters will hold a Candidates Forum at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. The town election will be held on Tuesday, May 21. 

  

For more information on town government and running for office, contact Town Clerk Rebecca Harris at 978-264-1727 or rharris@boxborough-ma.gov

Craft Food Halls to Open April 25 

  

(5-APR-24) The Boxborough location of Craft Food Halls at 500 Beaver Brook Road will open its doors to the public on April 25. Matthew Leppek, Craft Food Halls Director of Marketing, confirmed that the restaurant will be serving food and drinks for a Grand Opening on April 25th. Details about the Grand Opening and the restaurant’s hours of operations were not yet available. 

  

Boxborough Town Planner Alec Wade commented, “We're excited to welcome Craft Food Halls to Boxborough! This space will be filled with energy and community, alongside great food and drinks. A restaurant like this is rare, one that welcomes such energy and vests itself in the community. We're lucky to have them in town and I look forward to my first Craft Sandwich in the new space.”

  

According to a company representative who appeared before the Boxborough Select Board in August 2023, Craft Food Halls will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner to both office park employees and the general public. The food will be prepared using the “sous vide” method (low-temperature, long-time cooking), and alcoholic beverage offerings will include a “beer wall” with 30 taps. The 7,000 square foot restaurant will feature work areas, games, and an outdoor space with fire pits. 

Craft Food Halls Receives Certificate of Occupancy from Town

(29-MAR-24) Local restaurant chain Craft Food Halls has received its final certificate of occupancy from the Town of Boxborough for a new location at 500 Beaver Brook Road. On Thursday, March 21, Boxborough Town Planner Alec Wade confirmed that the restaurant “has been given every license that the town needed to issue.” The restaurant will be able to open its doors after a “final approval” from Nashoba Regional Boards of Health on its menu and facilities.

  

The Town Planner has not been notified of an opening date but expects the restaurant to open in the near future.

  

Craft Food Halls is nearly open, and I’m ecstatic to see the energy they’ll infuse into this community,” said Wade. This space will be a staple of the Boxborough food and beverage scene for years to come and will draw visitors from around the region. Their team’s enthusiasm and passion is infectious, and I look forward to my first meal in the new space.” 

  

According to a company representative who appeared before the Boxborough Select Board in August 2023, Craft Food Halls will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner to both office park employees and the general public. The food will be prepared using the “sous vide” method (low-temperature, long-time cooking), and alcoholic beverage offerings will include a “beer wall” with 30 taps. The 7,000 square foot restaurant will feature work areas, games, and an outdoor space with fire pits. 

  

Craft Food Halls currently operates restaurants in Boston, Lexington, Marlborough, Waltham, and Wellesley. Their newest location just opened in Allston. 


Police Investigating Damage to Fifers Field 


(29-MAR-24) On March 18, 2024, the Boxborough police were dispatched to Fifers Field upon report of damage to the field by what appeared to be tire tracks caused by a small car. 

  

A police report states, “Whoever drove their vehicle on the field, drove it in circles causing damage to the ground and grass.” 

  

Fifers Field, located on Beaver Brook Road, is one of three playing fields in Boxborough. This is the third year in a row that the field has been damaged by tire tracks. In previous years, the damage was superficial and disappeared from view as the grass grew in. This year, the damage may prevent the field’s use for the spring soccer season. 

“The Boxborough Police Department will continue to conduct numerous directed patrols at all town fields and trails,” stated Boxborough Chief of Police John Szewczyk. “All reports of vandalism to town property will be thoroughly investigated as this behavior will not be tolerated.” 

School Committee Adopts FY2025 Budget of $114.38M

(29-MAR-24) At its meeting on March 21, the Acton-Boxborough Regional School Committee held its final vote for the FY2025 school budget, voting unanimously to pass the “A” Budget. The “A Budget,” which requires a Proposition 2 1/2 override vote in Acton, is a $114.38M budget, with a Boxborough assessment of $15.96M.

  

If the override does not pass, the Committee will convene to pass the “B” budget. The “B Budget” is a $108M budget, with a Boxborough assessment of $14.89M.

  

The Committee voted separately to increase kindergarten tuition fees for FY2025 and to increase student activities, athletics, and parking fees.

  

In other business, the Committee voted to approve the district’s Student Opportunity Act (SOA) Plan to address chronic absenteeism. A memo about the SOA Plan is available at https://bit.ly/3INi4JE. The Committee decided not to submit a Statement of Interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for the Luther Conant Elementary School for 2024. The MSBA provides grant funding to school districts for renovating and constructing schools. A memo about the MSBA program and Statement of Interest process is available at https://bit.ly/3IRdfyT.

  

The Committee also heard a presentation by Acton-Boxborough Regional School District Energy Manager Kate Crosby about the energy performance of the new “Boardwalk Campus” (Douglas and Gates schools) in Acton, which is an all-electric geothermal building. Crosby reported that the Boardwalk Campus systems are performing better than expected.

  

The Superintendent announced that the district is nearing the end of leadership searches for two positions: an athletic director for the high school and junior high and an assistant superintendent of schools. The Committee expects to appoint a new assistant superintendent at its April 4 meeting.  

Zoning Board of Appeals Discusses the Future of Affordable Housing Permits, Holds Public Hearing on Kendall Road Property

(29-MAR-24) On Tuesday, March 19, the Zoning Board of Appeals discussed taking proactive action to set a standard on “friendly” 40B proposals. 

  

Massachusetts General Law (MGL) Chapter 40B is used to facilitate the construction of affordable housing. Chapter 40B states that every community across the Commonwealth should maintain a subsidized housing inventory (SHI) greater than 10%. 

  

Boxborough’s SHI is currently at 11.35%. In towns with an SHI less than 10%, developers can make “40B proposals” for housing where at least 25% of the units in the development are deed restricted or otherwise affordable, and, by doing so, they are allowed to waive the majority of the town’s zoning requirements. Since Boxborough’s SHI is currently above 10%, the ZBA could consider a “friendly” 40B proposal, one in which the developer would still be required to meet Boxborough’s zoning requirements. 

  

Town Planner Alec Wade shared his concern “that  someday, the 10% threshold may very well grow…we've seen through the MBTA Communities Act, that there is a fair amount of need for housing…so as towns come into compliance to that, I expect we'll see the 10% threshold may rise.” 

  

Wade asked the Board to “facilitate a forward thinking dialogue on this matter.” Specifically, he would like the ZBA to work with the Select Board, Planning Board, and Housing Board to set standards (e.g., percent of affordable units in a development proposal) for what would be expected out of a “friendly” 40B. 

  

After a lengthy discussion, Board members voted unanimously in favor of a discussion of friendly 40Bs with the Housing Board, Planning Board, and Select Board. ZBA members expressed concerns about the board making decisions on its own without proper input from elected boards, notably the Select Board and Planning Board.

   

Prior to the discussion on 40Bs, the ZBA held a public hearing to consider the special permit application filed by the owners of 63 Kendall Road. The owners wish to demolish their existing deck so that they may construct a larger deck with a covered and screened-in portion. At issue is the nonconformity of the existing deck, as it does not meet the side yard setback requirement of 30 feet. In an effort not to increase the existing nonconformity of the deck, several board members made suggestions for altering the design of the deck to avoid further encroachment upon the side setback, including relocating the stairs so that they were not too close to the septic tank. After closing the public hearing, the board unanimously approved the application with conditions, one of which requires the owner to obtain an updated survey of the property delineating the property boundaries, location of the proposed deck and the septic tank.

Personnel Board Prepares for Boxborough Annual Town Meeting

(29-MAR-24) Over the past several months, the Personnel Board has been working on revisions to the Personnel Plan and the Classification and Compensation schedule for Annual Town Meeting. 

  

The proposed changes to the Personnel Plan, which covers non-union employees, include the addition of a Recreation Services Coordinator position; “retitling” the Council on Aging and Community Services Director position, which is currently vacant, to Human Services Director; adding a Call Firefighter and Call EMT to the per diem schedule; changing the salary grade for the per diem Deputy Fire Chief; and renaming a library position.

  

The Personnel Board worked with the Chief of Police and Interim Fire Chief on clarifying language for “Private Details” so that hourly rates for per diem firefighters and EMTs, reserve police officers, formerly known as “special” police officers, and the police lieutenant, were consistent with career firefighters and police officers. Private details are paid by the private entity requesting the detail. There is no cost to the town.  

  

The revised language also provides that reserve police officers will be paid in four-hour increments after the first eight hours of work on a private detail. This is a change from the current language which provides that reserve officers are paid on an “hour-to-hour” basis after the first eight hours worked.  

  

The proposed changes also provide a minimum of four hours of pay for per diem firefighters for public education which encourages per diems to obtain additional training throughout their careers. The cost to the town is nominal and included in the budget. 

  

Additionally, the Personnel Board proposed changes to the vacation accrual process so that vacation time begins to accrue on the anniversary of an employee’s date of hire.  

  

The Board also voted for a three percent COLA (Cost of Living Increase) for non-contract and non-union employees effective July 1, 2024, at a total increase in salaries of $34,052. The Personnel Plan also provides a 2.5 percent step increase over and above the COLA.

  

The next meeting of the Personnel Board is scheduled for Tuesday, May 7, at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

Sustainability Committee Considers Recycling, Plastics, and Town Policy

(29-MAR-24) In their hybrid meeting March 7, the Boxborough Sustainability Committee (BSC) discussed plastics disposal, transfer station signage, “pay-as-you-throw” trash, and a final draft of the town’s “Sustainability Policy.”

  

Acton-Boxborough students Sunidhi and Surabhi Sinha described their ongoing investigation of how Boxborough might improve collection of both hard and thin plastics. They also presented a plan for transfer station signage which would explain what items may be recycled and what items belong in trash. 

  

The BSC encouraged the Sinha sisters to look closely at the plastic disposal cost and possible cost savings. The committee agreed that it would be helpful to mount informative signs on transfer station compactors.

  

The BSC decided to continue an investigation of the cost and possible savings for the town if transfer station users paid for bags for disposal of trash, thereby encouraging people to avoid putting recyclable material in the trash composters. Reducing trash tonnage will reduce hauling costs. 

  

The committee will also look at how such a system might work, given that currently only those under age 65 pay a fee for use of the transfer station.

  

Representatives from the BSC will be discussing the addition of a “swap shed” and other ways of improving use and supervision at the transfer station with DPW Director Ed Kukkula.

  

BSC Co-Chair Kate Davies presented a draft of the town’s “Sustainability Policy” in response to the Select Board’s request that the language be less prescriptive. The committee voted to approve the new draft which will go to the Select Board for approval.

  

In response to Town Planner Alec Wade’s call for concepts for the 2024 Summer Forum Series, BSC members and visitors suggested a number of topics: water resources, consumerism, biodiversity, daily pollution from hundreds of planes, ways to improve recycling, electrification of homes, and protection of turtles and vernal pools.

  

Co-Chair Francie Nolde thanked committee member Palmer Moore for the quality of his work on the BSC annual report.  

  

Before adjourning, the committee also discussed the possible addition of a student representative to the BSC, the Enclave’s request for revised zoning to allow the condo association to install ground-mounted solar panels, and a daytime Q&A session with Littleton Electric Light Dept. in early April.

  

The committee’s next hybrid meeting will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 11.

Select Board Discusses Fire Station Project, Stow Road Property, and Possibility of Future Budget Override

(29-MAR-24) At its meeting on March 25, the Select Board walked through the warrant for the May 2024 Annual Town Meeting. After making changes to several warrant article summaries and recommendations, the Board voted to approve the warrant as amended and authorize the mailing of the warrant.

  

Two articles generated the most discussion: Article 5, the town operating budget, and Article 25, professional services for a new fire station.

  

With respect to Article 5, the town operating budget, the Select Board discussed whether and how to “prepare” the public for a possible Proposition 2 ½ override next year.

  

Proposition 2 ½ refers to Massachusetts law establishing a “levy limit,” which restricts how much a town can increase taxes from year to year. A Proposition 2 ½ override is a way for the town to raise taxes above the levy limit. The override requires a town vote.

 

A Proposition 2 ½ override is not required for this year’s budget, but Select Board members agreed that an override may be needed next year. The Board decided to draft a “letter to the town” for inclusion in this year’s warrant to explain “where we are and how we got here” with respect to this year’s budget and prepare the public for the possibility of needing an override vote next year.

  

Article 25 seeks $500,000 for professional services for a new fire station. The Board agreed to revise the summary of this article to clarify how the funds would be used. Chair Kristin Hilberg acknowledged that there has been significant “pushback” on the Building Committee’s vote to locate the new fire station on Stow Road and stated that the funds sought in the warrant article would be used to hire professionals to help the town determine both the location and the design for a new fire station.

  

Town Administrator Michael Johns explained that the transfer of 70-72 Stow Road to the town is moving forward regardless of whether the property might be used for a fire station. 

  

On March 21, TA Johns called together representatives from the Housing Board, Affordable Housing Trust, and Select Board to advise him on the property transfer and agree on a price, per the terms of a 2011 Memorandum of Understanding between those three boards. The representatives “all agreed that it was in the best interest of affordable housing in town to transfer that property for $1.2 million … subsequent to the Housing Board deciding that it is in a better position to support affordable housing with the money rather than the land.” 

  

The Stow Road property transfer is expected to be an article on the fall town meeting warrant. Accordingly, the Select Board removed a “land acquisition” placeholder on the Annual Town Meeting warrant. 

Photo courtesy of Kirby Dolak - LCTV

Boxborough Citizens and Police Discuss “Partnership”

(29-MAR-24) At Blanchard School on Saturday, March 16, over 50 Boxborough citizens participated in a one-day program called “Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships” to help the town’s police department and the community better understand their relationship. 

  

Police Chief John Szewczyk expressed enthusiasm for the “terrific dialogue, great ideas, and an exciting path forward as we strive to become the most transparent and accountable police department in the Commonwealth.”

The program was run by conciliation specialists from the U.S. Department of Justice to “develop partnerships between law enforcement professionals and the diverse communities they serve.” Szewczyk thanked the DOJ, the planning group, and “our highly skilled facilitators.”

  

The DOJ will report their findings to Chief Szewczyk and Town Administrator Mike Johns. The town will make the DOJ report public and may decide to form a group to implement any recommendations. A number of people at the meeting agreed to join such a group. 

 

The day began at 9 a.m. when citizens were assigned to one of five groups, led by facilitators, to discuss three questions: What is the Boxborough PD doing right? What can the PD do better? And how can the PD achieve improvements?

  

Before breaking for a pizza lunch, the groups met in the Blanchard gym to share their observations. In the afternoon, new groups met to continue discussions and then return to the gym to hear facilitators give brief reports to Chief Szewczyk.

  

When the program ended at 3 p.m., one participant said, “The program was effective, and I feel very good about having participated.” The Chief observed, “The biggest ‘thank you’ goes to our engaged community members who participated and made the event a resounding success.”

Boxborough Fire Chief Search to Reopen

(22-MAR-24) Boxborough will shortly reopen its search for a new, permanent fire chief, a position that’s been open since Chief Paul Fillibrown retired in June of 2023. The town has retained Community Paradigm Associates, a Massachusetts company that assists government and non-profit groups with job candidate searches and recruitment. In this capacity, Community Paradigm has worked in the past with Boxborough and numerous other Bay State communities.

Town Administrator Michael Johns said his goal is to have the position advertised before the end of March, with the new chief on board by this summer. The position was initially advertised upon Fillibrown’s departure, and three applicants were identified. However, one applicant subsequently withdrew his candidacy. 


Rather than decide between the other two, Johns recommended to the Select Board that the job search be reopened with the goal of attracting a larger applicant pool. When asked why the position has been open for nine months, Johns said it was to offer internal individuals the opportunity to apply and be vetted; however, the wait didn’t yield a competitive candidate.


Johns noted a number of priorities for the chief who comes on board. They include:


Johns noted that in addition to overseeing Boxborough firefighting, the chief oversees the department’s medical services. He also emphasized a significant fire chief’s role that most citizens don’t know about: emergency management direction. “If there were to be a disaster – natural or man-made – the fire chief is the individual who takes charge of the town’s response,” Johns said.


Since Fillibrown’s retirement, Captain Shawn Gray has served as interim chief. “Shawn’s work has been terrific,” Johns said, “He’s put in significant time and worked especially hard to boost morale.”


Johns also lauded Captain Jason Malinowski for working alongside Gray to ensure the department maintains its abilities, remains fully staffed, and keeps morale high. “A big shout-out to both Jason and Shawn for a terrific job,” Johns said.


Johns praised the members of the department, saying, “I’m confident that the captains, lieutenants, and the fine men and women that serve as Boxborough‘s EMTs and firefighters are tactically sound, and fully prepared to respond to all fire and medical emergencies.”

Housing Board Votes Recommendation on ATM Warrant Article, Discusses Stow Road Property  

(22-MAR-24) At its meeting on March 14, the Boxborough Housing Board (BHB) voted unanimously to recommend a warrant article for May Town Meeting which allocates $44,000 of Community Preservation Act funds for the Boxborough Rental Assistance Program (BRAP). 

BRAP provides rental assistance to income-eligible households who are renting qualifying housing units in Boxborough. A subsidy of $250 per month is provided by BRAP and is paid directly to the participating household’s landlord. Households may renew their participation for a total of three years, subject to annual income eligibility verification. 

This will be the ninth year of the BRAP. It began with a six-household pilot program in 2016 and was expanded to twelve households in 2017. The proposal this year is to increase funding by $6,000 and expand BRAP to fourteen households. 


The Board spent a considerable amount of time discussing the potential transfer of the 70-72 Stow Road property from the BHB to the Town of Boxborough. BHB member Al Murphy updated the board on his progress of putting together the history of the property so that residents understand why the majority of the board favors the transfer. 


“We think that everybody in town should know about what has happened and what the situation is, and we're going to do our best to put together an information packet that outlines what the Stow Road Concept Development Committee really did 12 years ago…” Murphy said. 


In January 2024, the BHB passed a motion to accept payment for the property in the amount of $1.2M, provided that the payment is approved according to the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), dated January 24, 2011. The funds from the transfer would support affordable housing programs in Boxborough, like the BRAP, which focuses on existing rental properties rather than the construction of new housing. 


Boxborough Select Board Chair Kristin Hilberg and Town Administrator (TA) Mike Johns attended the meeting and explained next steps for transferring the property. Two members from the Select Board, Housing Board, and Affordable Housing Trust will advise and assist the Town Administrator on the process. 


BHB members elected Al Murphy and Ron Vogel to serve as their liaisons to the TA’s advisory group. The Board discussed details of the Homeowner Opportunity for Preservation and Enhancement (HOPE) program. Monies from the Affordable Housing Trust can be used for maintenance on homes under BHB jurisdiction. 


The Board would like to pilot a program that would enable the replacement of twelve roofs on homes in Boxborough Meadows. These roofs are approaching their end of life and need to be replaced before their failure causes damage to the properties. The Board will seek legal counsel regarding the requirements for “Request for Proposals” and the payment of prevailing wage for the work. 


As previously reported, BHB Chair Channing Wagg’s term expires on June 30, 2024. He is not seeking reappointment, so the Board discussed a succession plan. Board members agreed that a vice-chair position should be filled. In a unanimous vote, member Jessi Robinson was elected as vice chair of the Board. 


The Housing Board is seeking new members. Those interested in serving can email Al Murphy (amurphy@boxborough-ma.gov). The next meeting is April 18 at 7 p.m. at Boxborough Town Hall.

Finance Committee Votes For and Against  Warrant Articles 

(22-MAR-24) At its meeting on March 12, the Finance Committee (FinCom) deliberated and voted recommendations for the remainder of the warrant articles to be presented at the annual town meeting. 

The FinCom voted in favor of $500,000 for “professional services” for the potential new fire station and in favor of a waterline extension easement. FinCom voted against $171,000 for the Blanchard playground and against a Human Services Director position at town hall.


The FinCom’s vote to recommend the fire station professional services was unanimous. Town Administrator Mike Johns explained that the funding for professional services for the fire station provides oversight of all phases of the project including the schematic design, design development, construction documents, and construction administration. 


This includes a comprehensive project budget, life cycle cost analysis, coordination with MassDOT, local, state and federal regulatory application approvals, environmental impact and permitting, sustainability design, and demolition oversight.  


FinCom also voted in favor of a warrant article to allow the Select Board to enter into an intermunicipal agreement (IMA) with the Town of Littleton for an easement so that Littleton can access and maintain the portions of the planned water line located in Boxborough. Johns explained that in the event that a road has to be torn up, the cost of all repairs will be borne by the Town of Littleton.    


FinCom voted against recommending $171,000 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding for the Blanchard Playground project in a 0-6 vote. While FinCom members supported rebuilding the playground to make it safer for school children, members also said that since the town voted to regionalize Blanchard, the district is responsible for all costs associated with the school. 


FinCom members also expressed concern that the applicant has not reduced the dollar amount of their CPA funding request despite a recent $40,000 reduction in estimated cost (due to ABRSD indicating they could demolish the current playground themselves), and $44,000 in additional funding ($34,000 from ABRSD and $10,000 from fundraising). The total cost of the playground project is $310,000. 


FinCom also re-voted a warrant article that creates a Human Services Director position overseeing the Council on Aging, Community Services, Veteran Services, and the Recreation departments. They voted against recommending it in a 3-4 vote. At their last meeting, they voted to recommend it 5-3. 


The majority of FinCom members present felt that there was sufficient administrative management to provide oversight of these departments and did not warrant a change in reporting structure.  


The next FinCom meeting is scheduled for Tuesday March 19 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. The meeting is hybrid.  

Deadline to Obtain Nomination Papers for Town Election is March 29 

(22-MAR-24) Friday, March 29, is the last day to obtain nomination papers for the 2024 town election. Nomination papers are available from the Town Clerk’s office until 5 p.m. on March 29.


Offices on the 2024 town ballot are Select Board (two seats), School Committee (one seat), Planning Board (one seat), Library Trustees (two seats), Board of Health (one seat), Town Moderator (one seat), and Constable (one seat).


Nomination papers must be filed with Boxborough Town Clerk by 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, in order for the nominee to be on the ballot. A minimum of 25 signatures is required.


A “Candidate’s Check List” with information about getting on the ballot and campaign finance law requirements is available at https://bit.ly/3TfHKDA


For more information on town government and running for office, contact Town Clerk Rebecca Harris at 978-264-1727 or rharris@boxborough-ma.gov. The town election will be held on Tuesday, May 21.

Planning Board Discusses Traffic Study and Mass Ave Enforcement Action 

(22-MAR-24) At its meeting on March 18, the Planning Board met with Corrine Tobias of Green International Affiliates to discuss a proposal for a comprehensive town-wide traffic study. 

The Board asked Tobias about the scope and methods for the traffic study proposal and discussed goals and deliverables. The Planning Board will ask voters at Annual Town Meeting for $60,000 to fund this study, which will focus on the Route 111 corridor.  

The Board also voted to set an executive session to discuss potential litigation with respect to 984 Massachusetts Avenue. Town Planner Alec Wade and Planning Board Clerk (and Acting Chair with respect to this matter) Rebecca Verner reported that they met with Town Counsel and were “advised that there probably is not much that we can do except for the next step of some form of litigation.” 

Wade stated that the property owner has failed to meet several deadlines and is no longer responsive to his inquiries. The Board voted to recommend litigation and schedule an executive session on March 21 to discuss pending and imminent litigation. 


On December 7, 2023, the town issued a cease and desist letter to the owner of 984 Massachusetts Ave regarding disturbance of land and suspected violation of the Town’s Stormwater Bylaw. Since then, the property owner failed to meet certain deadlines for submissions to the town, incurring fines, and continued to cut down trees despite the town’s cease and desist letter regarding the disturbance of land. 

  

In other business, the Board continued a working session on their Administrative Rules and Regulations and discussed Board goals.

Steele Farm Barn Inventory Project Moves Forward; Anniversary Celebration in October 

(22-MAR-24) At the Steele Farm Committee meeting on March 7, Chair Christoper Hydak noted that the Boxborough Select Board unanimously approved the committee’s new charter on February 26. This charter changes the name of the group to the “Steele Farm Committee,” reflecting the core mission of the committee to be the town’s steward for the Steele Farm buildings and land for the benefit of the Town and its residents.


Hydak reported that the repair of the roof and chimney as the first part of the Phase II effort to preserve the envelope of the 1784 Levi Wetherbee farmhouse at Steele Farm has been postponed due to rain and will start as soon as weather permits. The bids for the restoration of the ice house were due to the Town on March 8. Considerable progress has been made on the committee’s initiative to inventory the barn and organize its contents. 


Phase 1, identification, has been completed and a video catalog has been made of the barn’s contents. Phase 2, determination of ownership, is well underway. Presumptive owners are being contacted to verify ownership of property. A list will be made of items without ownership to try to identify the group responsible for them. Once the owners of all items have been identified, or it has been determined that an item has been abandoned, the committee will work with the owners to determine what should stay at the barn and what should be removed.


The committee’s proposal to have students work on grounds maintenance during the Acton- Boxborough Regional High School Community Service Day has been approved. The committee had an extended discussion of the highest priority items, including, among others, removal of invasive species, planting trees, and brush removal. The committee decided to have a work day in advance of the April 26 service day to ensure that the students’ time could be used most effectively.

 

The Town purchased the Steele Farm property in the fall of 1994 making this year the 30th anniversary of town ownership and thus the preservation of the buildings and property. The committee agreed that it would have a 30th anniversary celebration in October; details will be arranged over the next few months. The next meeting of the committee will take place on Thursday April 4, 2024 at the Boxborough Museum, 575 Middle Road, starting at 7 p.m.

Town Administrator Completes Police Payroll Audit, Reports Results to Inspector General


(15-MAR-24) In a letter to the Inspector General dated February 29, 2024, Town Administrator Michael Johns reported that the town has completed an audit of police department payroll records from July 1, 2018 to present. The audit found full recovery of the overpayments made to two officers and partial recovery of the overpayment made to one officer. The letter notes that a fourth officer disputes the town’s interpretation of a qualifying degree under the Quinn Bill and thus disputes that he was overpaid. The town is awaiting an arbitrator’s decision.


With respect to the partial recovery, Johns writes, “[t]he audit revealed that Sergeant Pelley was overpaid a total of $18,288.77 between FY2019 and FY2021. A repayment plan initiated in January 2021 successfully recovered $6,954.48, leaving an outstanding balance of $11,334.29.” The letter states that Sargent Pelley will enter a repayment plan “to deduct the outstanding balance from future wages.”   

  

On October 10, 2023, Johns and Select Board Chair Kristin Hilberg received a letter from the Massachusetts Inspector General Jefferey S. Shapiro recommending “that the town conduct a new audit of all [police] department payroll from July 1, 2018 to the present and seek repayment from any [police] department personnel who the town determines it overpaid.” 

  

The Office of the Inspector General received a complaint in January 2021 “alleging that the town of Boxborough overpaid education incentives to members of the Boxborough Police Department.” 

Select Board Votes Warrant Articles, Hears Presentations on BERC, Blanchard Playground, and Hazard Mitigation


(15-MAR-24) At its meeting on March 11, the Boxborough Select Board voted recommendations on the 2024 Annual Town Meeting Warrant articles. All articles voted on were recommended unanimously. The Select Board deferred a vote on the operating budget until the town gets a final school budget number.

  

Select Board Chair Kristin Hilberg reported to the Board about the formation of a “working group” to advise the Town Administrator regarding the potential transfer of the 70-72 Stow Road property from the Boxborough Housing Board to the town. Town Administrator Michael Johns asked for guidance on the structure of the group, noting that it’s been described both as a “working group or subcommittee” and also as “a group that I call together” with representatives from the Housing Board, Housing Trust, and Select Board. 

  

“How we design that is important…” said TA Johns, as it determines whether agendas and minutes are required. Chair Hilberg responded, “I’d prefer the latter versus agendas and postings…it is a working group to be able to bring information back [to boards], and to the town.” The TA indicated that he would move forward accordingly. 

  

The Board began discussions about reinstating and restructuring the Boxborough Leadership Forum, as well as the roles of Select Board members on other town boards and committees. Both topics will be discussed at a future meeting. 

  

The Board also heard presentations regarding the Boxborough Emergency Reserve Corps (BERC), the Blanchard Playground project, and the town’s Hazard Mitigation Plan.

  

BERC Chair Ron Sisco presented about the purpose and activities of BERC, concluding with the message that they are actively seeking additional volunteers, both with and without medical backgrounds. The purpose of BERC is to “create volunteer capacity to supplement first responders in the event of local, regional, or national emergencies.” BERC supports town events like RunBXB and Fifer’s Day and engages in training exercises with the police and fire departments.

  

Blanchard Memorial School Principal Dana Labb presented on the Blanchard playground renovation. A community fundraising initiative has raised $150,000 towards a playground renovation, and the Boxborough Community Preservation Committee voted 8-1 in favor of using $171,000 in Community Preservation Act funds for playground renovation. This use of CPA funds is on the 2024 Town Meeting warrant. Labb explained why the school needs a new playground and answered questions about funding sources, including contributions from the school district.

  

Consultant Jamie Caplan presented on the town’s Hazard Mitigation Plan, which her team is currently preparing and which will require adoption by the Select Board. The Hazard Mitigation Plan will identify critical facilities in town, identify potential hazards, and recommend specific mitigation actions to reduce vulnerabilities. The mitigation actions will include changes to regulations, infrastructure projects, natural systems protections, and education programs. 

Affordable Housing Trust Votes To Accept Housing Board’s $1.2M Valuation of Stow Road Property

(15-MAR-24) At its meeting on March 7, the Affordable Housing Trust (Trust) unanimously voted to accept the Boxborough Housing Board’s (BHB) $1.2M valuation of the 70-72 Stow Road property in preparation for the potential transfer of the property from the BHB to the Boxborough Select Board (BSB). The property was acquired with Trust funds by the BHB in 2010 with the intent of building affording housing. Any transfer would require a two-thirds vote at Town Meeting.

   

In a letter dated Feb 25, 2024, the BHB informed the Trust that they had passed a motion to accept payment in the amount of $1.2M, provided that the payment is approved according to the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), dated January 24, 2011. The MOU is between the Trust, the BHB, and the BSB, and requires that proceeds from sale or transfer of the property must be conveyed and deposited to the Trust to be used to provide more affordable housing for Boxborough residents and to preserve existing affordable housing. 

  

In January 2024, a majority of the Boxborough Building Committee voted to recommend the use of the Stow Road property for a new fire station. Building Committee Chair Kristin Hilberg suggested the formation of a working group consisting of two members from each of the boards specified in the MOU (Select Board, Housing Board, and Affordable Housing Trust) to facilitate the land transfer process and advise the Town Administrator. The Trust designated Les Fox and Becky Neville as their representatives to the working group. 

  

The Trust did not set a date for their next meeting.

FinCom Continues Voting Warrant Articles, Discusses Town Hall Structure

(15-MAR-24) At its meeting on March 5, the Finance Committee (FinCom) voted on a few additional budgets and several warrant articles.  

  

Among the warrant articles voted and recommended by FinCom were: changes to the Personnel Plan; a 3% COLA (cost of living adjustment) for non-union, non-contract employees; acceptance of Chapter 90 reimbursement; funding for Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB); assessor cyclical revaluations; MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems) permitting; the appropriation of cable funds for cable services and equipment; department revolving fund expenses; police and fire injury fund to offset the difference in insurance payments to cover unfilled shifts; a police department vehicle and mobile data terminals; an animal control officer vehicle; and a change in the Town Hall reporting structure.

  

The discussion on the change in Town Hall reporting structure generated the most debate.Town Administrator Michael Johns advocated for a new reporting structure where either the Council on Aging (CoA) Coordinator or the Community Services Coordinator would be promoted to a director position to provide management and oversight of the CoA, Community Services, Recreation, and Veteran Services departments. Johns said combining those services under one umbrella will ensure better coordination between departments when resident issues are recognized. FinCom voted 5-3 in favor of the new structure at Town Hall, with the minority expressing concern about the need and the timing for adding this position.

  

A vote in favor of Chapter 90 reimbursement allows the town to accept funding from the Commonwealth for highway improvements during the fiscal year.

  

OPEB provides funding to offset anticipated future costs of post-retirement health and life insurance benefits to current and future Town employees.

  

Funding for the assessor cyclical revaluation ensures that the town completes revaluations of all property every 5 years.

  

For a draft of the FY2025 warrant, visit https://bit.ly/3Tx8fWt. The next FinCom meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 12, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. The meeting is hybrid.

School Committee Holds Budget Hearing, Withdraws from Health Insurance Trust, Applauds A-B Resource Center

(15-MAR-24) On March 7, the School Committee held a public hearing on the FY2025 school budget, as required by Massachusetts General Law. Superintendent Peter Light presented a budget overview and the Committee took comments from the public. The “A Budget,” which requires a Proposition 2 1/2 override vote in Acton, is a $114.38M budget, with a Boxborough assessment of $15.96M. The “B Budget,” to be used only if the override fails, is a $108M budget, with a Boxborough assessment of $14.89M.

  

Gary Kushner of the Boxborough Finance Committee asked the Committee to provide budget models and projections for the coming years, as Boxborough may be facing an override next year.

  

At the next School Committee meeting on March 21, the Superintendent will make his final budget recommendation and the School Committee will vote on the final FY2025 budget.

  

After closing the public hearing and returning to its business meeting, the Committee voted to withdraw from the Acton Health Insurance Trust and join the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association (MIIA), effective July 1, 2024, for the purpose of providing employee health insurance. The district expects to save “approximately $1.5M per year over continuing to pay the [Health Insurance Trust] premium rates.” 

  

Katie Neville, Executive Director of the Acton-Boxborough United Way, presented to the School Committee an update on the A-B Resource Center, a collaboration between the school district and the Acton-Boxborough United Way. Visitors can find information about local resources in multiple languages and “shop” at the AB Exchange for clothing and other essentials donated by the community. Neville reported that since the Resource Center opened in September 2023, the number of visitors has increased each month. School Committee members expressed support and appreciation for the Resource Center.

  

The Committee also heard a presentation on culturally responsive teaching practices from Jennifer Faber, Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, as well as a presentation from Dr. Deborah Bookis, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, about the district’s state-mandated Student Opportunity Act (SOA) Plan. The district’s 2024 SOA Plan focuses on chronic absenteeism. The School Committee will vote on the 2024 SOA Plan before it is submitted to the state by April 1. 

Boxborough Economic Development Committee Studies Grant Applications, Business Needs, Proposed Database 

(15-MAR-24) At its virtual meeting March 7, Boxborough’s Economic Development Committee (EDC) discussed the status of Boxborough Business Grant contracts, topics and questions raised at the EDC-sponsored business breakfast, and the steps the EDC will take to create a database of Boxborough businesses.

  

In February, the EDC approved grant applications for Oscar’s Burritos, Alpha Cars, and Rest Assured Remediations. A contract with Oscar’s Burritos Mexican Grill is already moving ahead. Town Planner Alec Wade updated the committee on the status of the other contracts and reported that four other businesses have begun the grant application process. In early March, the committee received a grant application from Swymfit; a public hearing will be held on March 28. 

  

Wade said that after the December 2023 business breakfast, local businesses identified three needs: communication and virtual space; education and business growth; and improved interaction with town government.

  

EDC member Dawn Willis showed the EDC two examples of websites promoting town businesses: “Destination Bolton,” and “Maynard Business Alliance.” The EDC will explore ideas on establishing a virtual presence. 

  

To promote business education, Chair Rich Guzzardi suggested that the EDC encourage owners and managers of Boxborough businesses to host networking gatherings at their place of business and invite guest speakers with specialized knowledge of topics such as accounting and tax preparation, human resources, social media, etc.

  

Economic Development Intern JP LoGiudice is gathering information about all local firms to create a Boxborough business database. The information will be used to help the EDC and other Town departments communicate more efficiently with local businesses. To help LoGiudice develop the database, the EDC voted to spend $100 to request data from the Corporations Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office.

  

Wade updated the committee on the Village Center Revitalization Project. After the February 10 public engagement session with consulting firm Tighe & Bond, a stakeholder group of members from several town boards and committees will meet during the week of March 25 to review the consultants’ scenarios and give feedback. This is the first of three stakeholder meetings to further develop the ideas for the Boxborough Village Center Project. All stakeholder meetings will be open to the public. For more information, visit boxborough-ma.gov/404/Economic-Development-Committee

  

The EDC’s next meeting is on March 28 at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Boxborough Presidential Primary Election Results


(8-MAR-24) On Tuesday, March 5, Boxborough voters went to the polls to vote in the Presidential Primary. According to the Town Clerk’s preliminary results, a total of 1,163 Boxborough voters cast ballots out of 4,128 registered voters. This represents a 28 percent voter turnout. 

  

On the Democratic ballot, Joseph R. Biden received the most votes, with 524 out of 611 total votes. “No Preference” received the second-highest number of votes, with 46 votes. 

  

On the Republican ballot, Nikki Haley received the most votes, with 323 out of 542 total votes. Donald J. Trump received the second-highest number of votes, with 204 votes. 

  

On the Libertarian ballot, write-ins received the most votes, with 4 out of 10 total votes. Chase Russell Oliver received the second-highest number of votes, with 3 votes. 

  

The Town Clerk reported that 29 voted early in person, 478 voted by mail (out of 718 ballots mailed), 12 voted absentee (by mail or in person), and there were 9 overseas voters.


The Town Clerk’s preliminary results can be found at https://bit.ly/3T64tlb

Planning Board Discusses Mass Ave Enforcement Action, MBTA Communities Act Compliance

(8-MAR-24) At its meeting on Monday, March 4, the Planning Board discussed a wide variety of topics across a four-hour meeting.

  

The Board decided to schedule an executive session with town counsel as soon as possible regarding the town’s enforcement action at 984 Massachusetts Avenue. On December 7, 2023, the town issued a cease and desist letter to the property owner regarding disturbance of land and suspected violation of the Town’s Stormwater Bylaw. Since then, the property owner has failed to meet certain deadlines for submissions to the town, incurring fines. In recent weeks, the property owner has continued to cut down trees in alleged violation of the town’s cease and desist letter. Board members also expressed concern about potential additional violations beyond the Stormwater Bylaw.

  

Town Planner Alec Wade reported to the Board about the town’s enforcement activities more broadly. He indicated that the Building Commissioner / Zoning Enforcement officer has recently increased his enforcement efforts in order to improve zoning compliance. Wade also announced that he is working on an online complaint system to improve communications with respect to zoning enforcement going forward.

  

Town Planner Wade also provided an update on the MBTA Communities Act.The Act requires that Boxborough zone for 118 units of housing at a rate of 15 units per acre or greater. The Act does not require that the town build the housing. In January 2023, Boxborough created an “action plan” that put the town in temporary compliance with the Act through December 2025. Town Planner Wade is planning an education session and public engagement events regarding the MBTA Communities Act through the spring and summer. Several Board members expressed that MBTA Communities Act compliance should be a priority for the Planning Board in the coming year. 

  

The Board also heard from the Enclave Homeowners Association, which has approached the town regarding a potential small-scale solar project. Currently, zoning bylaws do not allow this type of solar project in the Town Center district, where the Enclave is located. The Board discussed a potential avenue by which the Enclave HOA could pursue the project despite the current prohibition, which would require a Town Meeting vote. The Board suggested that the HOA do further research and planning with the help of Town Planner Wade.

  

In other business, the Board voted unanimously to recommend an article on the 2024 Town Meeting warrant that increases the hours for the currently unfilled Associate Town Planner position; engaged in a working session to continue revising the Planning Board’s Administrative Rules and Regulations; and discussed Board goals and priorities for the coming year.

School Committee Considers Alternative “B Budget” for FY2025

(8-MAR-24) At its meeting on Thursday, February 29, the School Committee heard a presentation from Acton-Boxborough Regional School District Superintendent Peter Light about the “B Budget” for FY2025. The “B Budget” is the alternative budget to be used only if the Town of Acton does not vote for the Proposition 2 ½ override that is required for the “A Budget.” The “A Budget” is a $3.14M reduction from level services.

  

The “B Budget” is a $9.3M reduction from level services. According to the Superintendent’s presentation, this budget reduces 86.1 staff positions across the district, increases class sizes, “breaks strategic direction for most initiatives” and represents “increased and substantial reliance on additional fees for families.”

  

Superintendent Light explained that if the override fails and the “B Budget” moves forward, the district will likely need to ask the School Committee to remove the “hometown guarantee,” which guarantees Boxborough students a place at the only elementary school located in Boxborough, the Blanchard Memorial School. Due to class size considerations, the “B Budget” may mean “transferring some Boxborough students who wanted the hometown guarantee, but they would probably have to attend school in Acton.”

  

Boxborough Finance Committee member Gary Kushner, present at the meeting, asked whether removing the hometown guarantee is allowable under the terms of the ABRSD regional agreement. The Superintendent confirmed, “the regional agreement indicates the School Committee can choose to end the hometown [guarantee].”

  

The next step in the FY2025 budget process is a Budget Hearing on March 7. The School Committee’s Final Budget Vote is March 21. The Acton Town Election (override vote) is Tuesday, April 30.

  

The School Committee also heard a Mid-Cycle Goals Update from the Superintendent on his own goals and district goals, as well as a Second Quarter FY2024 Finance Update from Sheri Matthews, Director of Finance and Operations. 



Boxborough Dog License Renewals Due April 1


(8-MAR-24) The deadline to renew dog licenses is April 1. Residents can come in person to the Town Clerk’s Office, apply online via the Online Payment Portal at https://bit.ly/3P5Ahpj, or download and mail in a Dog License Application PDF available at https://bit.ly/3Tn7ajW

  

After April 1, a $25 per dog late fee will be imposed. After May 1, the late fee rises to $50 per dog. Anyone who has not re-licensed their dog(s) by June 1 will be subject to a $100 late fee per dog and may have their names turned over to Ayer District Court by the Animal Control Officer.

Still a pup, with training ahead, K-9 Koda has been making friends with her Boxborough Police Department handler, Max Bressi.

Boxborough’s Police Department Welcomes K-9 “Koda”

(8-MAR-24) Boxborough’s Police Chief John Szewczyk says he’s happy to announce the recent arrival of the department’s first K-9, a young female black lab named Koda.

  

Koda’s handler, Officer Max Bressi, explains that Koda will track children, seniors, and anyone lost in the woods and trails in Boxborough once she completes her scent detection training. She will serve many other functions related to the health of the community: working with children in the school and library, and even attending birthday parties. She will also take part in Fifer’s Day and town parades.

  

A life-long lover of dogs, Bressi says Koda has already become house broken and has learned to navigate stairs and to respond to “Sit,” “Stay,” and “Come.” Later in March, Bressi and Koda will begin obedience school and special training to track a person who may be lost.

  

Bressi emphasizes that Koda, whose name means “friend” in Native American Dakota language, is not a patrol dog taught to pursue people and bite; instead, she has been bred to “listen, and have a trusting rapport with people.” 

  

The breeder, Foxbend Labs in Hillsborough, NH, says that Koda’s parents and grandparents have been “wonderful” service dogs. The breeder told Bressi, “I find it’s sometimes harder to train people than dogs.”

  

Koda lives with Bressi, and they share a 2017 police cruiser equipped with a special platform and protective cage for Koda in the back seat area. The cruiser serves the same functions as other cruisers.

  

The Chief says Littleton also has a K-9; both dogs will serve other towns in the region, just as other towns share drones, four-wheel-drive vehicles, boats, and other equipment with Boxborough. Bressi adds, “We always listen to local scanners to hear what other towns might need, and regional towns are always ready to help Boxborough.”

  

In addition to his new role as K-9 Handler, Bressi serves as Lead Field Training Officer for new department members and Detail Scheduling Officer. He says, “Koda is quickly making friends, and I love working with her. She’s become my best friend.” 

Boxborough Finance Committee Considers $27.9 Million Operating Budget

(8-MAR-24) On Tuesday Feb. 27, the Finance Committee (FinCom) discussed and voted on a number of department budgets, including police, fire, public works, buildings and grounds, land use and permitting, facilities, and several other budgets for boards, committees, and commissions.   

  

Excluding pending warrant articles, the operating budget currently stands at $27.9 million, a 9.6 percent increase over last year. The budget includes a 14.46 percent increase in the Acton- Boxborough Regional School District (ABRSD) assessment and a 3.74 percent increase in all other town-related budgets.  

  

The relatively modest increase in the non-ABRSD budget is attributable to reductions in vocational education (-43.65 percent) due to fewer students enrolled in technical schools, debt service (-22.9 percent), and dispatch (-85 percent).  

  

Regionalization reduced the dispatch budget temporarily; the State pays 100 percent of the first three years of operation, 50 percent of the fourth year, and 25 percent of the fifth year. Maria Neyland, FinCom Chair, reminded everyone that the reduction is temporary. Starting in fiscal year 2028, the town will have to budget the entire assessment for regional dispatch.   

  

The excess levy capacity, which is the difference between the maximum allowable levy of $28.1 million and the proposed tax levy of $27.9 million, now stands at $207,000. Next year, the town will be faced with either an override or reductions in the town’s operating budget.  

  

The tax rate is currently projected at $16.04 per $1,000 of assessed house value.  

  

The next FinCom meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, in the Morse-Hilberg room in Town Hall (29 Middle Road). The meeting is hybrid (in person and Zoom). 

Boxborough Capital Committee Reviews Capital Expense Articles for Annual Meeting

(8-MAR-24) On Feb. 29, the Capital Committee reviewed and voted for $2 million in proposed capital articles to be considered at the May 2024 Annual Town Meeting.

  

Some of the larger capital items include $475,000 for an ambulance, $424,000 for road maintenance and work on the Guggins Brook culvert running under Liberty Square Road, $180,000 for the replacement of the chlorination system at Hager well, $171,000 for the playground at Blanchard Elementary, $120,000 to replace the fuel tanks at the DPW, $70,000 to paint Town Hall, and $50,000 additional funding for the library roof.

  

Town Administrator Michael Johns indicated that by appropriating funds for the ambulance in FY2025, the town will “lock in a price” at current rates. The cost will be offset by 50 percent of ambulance receipts set aside in a revolving fund. Those funds currently stand at $326,000. It is expected that additional revenues will fund the entire cost of the ambulance before payment is due.

  

The installation of a chlorination system at Hager well will be funded in part by the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District ($108,000), and the balance of $72,000 will be bonded. 

  

The “Blanchard Playground Project” application requests $171,000 to support the renovation and replacement of playground equipment at Blanchard elementary school. Proposed funding will come from the Community Preservation Act, which imposes a 1 percent surtax on property taxes and receives revenue from the State.  

  

The Capital Committee, which was established in FY2023, consists of two members of the Finance Committee, two members of the Select Board, and the Town Administrator. The committee reviews capital needs over $10,000 and with a useful life of more than five years.  

Select Board Discusses FY25 Budget Updates and 2024 Town Meeting Warrant

(1-MAR-24) At its meeting on February 26, the Select Board prepared for Town Meeting by hearing a budget update, reviewing the draft Town Meeting warrant, and voting to hold Town Meeting at the Blanchard Memorial School.

  

Town Administrator Michael Johns shared an update on the town’s FY2025 budget, which has been adjusted in light of the School Committee’s February 15 vote to set the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District FY2025 Preliminary Budget at $114.38 million. Based on this Preliminary Budget, Boxborough’s assessment would be $15,960,274. This expected assessment led the Town Administrator, Select Board Chair Kristin Hilberg, and Finance Committee Chair Maria Neyland to meet and make reductions to Boxborough’s budget. TA Johns explained that they did not make cuts to operational department budgets or committee budgets.

  

Expecting higher than usual attendance at Town Meeting this year to consider warrant articles related to the school budget and proposed fire station, the Select Board discussed moving Town Meeting to the Boxborough Regency Hotel. Ultimately, on the recommendation from the Town Administrator, the Board voted to keep Town Meeting at the Blanchard Memorial School. Town Meeting will begin on Monday, May 13 at 7 p.m.

  

The Select Board reviewed the draft Town Meeting Warrant and divided up responsibilities for writing the Select Board recommendations. The draft warrant currently contains 47 articles, three of which will be considered in a Special Town Meeting to occur within the Annual Town Meeting. 

  

The Select Board also voted to approve a charter for the Steele Farm Committee (formerly known as the Steele Farm Advisory Committee), which did not previously have a charter because it was originally formed only to advise the Select Board. Steele Farm Committee Chair Christopher Hydak presented the charter to the Select Board.  

  

The Board heard a presentation on, but did not vote on, revisions to the town’s Sustainability Policy proposed by the Boxborough Sustainability Committee. Sustainability Committee co-chairs Francie Nolde and Kate Davies presented the proposed policy revisions, which include five “guiding principles” and four “goals and actions.”

  

The Board also voted to name Chair Kristin Hilberg and Clerk Priya Sundaram to the fire station land purchase working group. 

Boxborough FinCom Considers School and Town Budget for Fiscal Year 2025

(1-MAR-24) At its meeting on Feb. 20, the Finance Committee (Fin Com) voted on the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District (ABRSD) budget, reviewed proposed changes in warrant articles and funding sources, and voted an exception to the free cash policy.

  

Fin Com Chair Maria Neyland reported that the School Committee voted a budget of $114.4M for fiscal year 2025. That budget would increase the Boxborough assessment by 14.46 percent for a total assessment of $15.9 million.  

  

Before voting on the ABRSD budget, Neyland reported that an error in a formula used to project Boxborough’s levy limit would necessitate reducing some warrant articles and moving funding sources for other articles; otherwise, the town would have to approve an override. Among some of the proposed changes to be considered are: reductions in Other Post-Employment Benefits ($100,000), professional services for a new fire station ($150,000), and deferment of warrant articles for green burials and cistern inspections.  

 

After the Fin Com meeting, the town learned that the estimate for proposed professional services for the fire station was, in fact, $500,000; the town would have to keep the warrant article at that amount and look for other items to change.  

  

Several warrant articles were moved to free cash which would not impact the tax rate or levy limit.

  

After more discussion and debate, Fin Com took two votes on the ABRSD budget. The first vote was to increase the assessment by 13 percent. That vote failed with three members voting in favor and five members opposed. The second vote was to approve a 14.46 percent increase in the assessment. That vote passed with five members in favor and three members opposed.

  

The total amount to be raised through taxation now stands at $28 million, leaving the town with $120,000 less than the levy limit. Next year, the town will be faced with either an override or further reductions in the Boxborough operating budget.  

  

Fin Com also voted on a one-time exception to the “Free Cash” policy, which requires that the town set aside a minimum of 5 percent of the total operating budget. The exception to the policy would bring that number down to 4.8 percent. The exception was approved unanimously.

  

The next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at Town Hall. The meeting is hybrid.  

Vandalism Reported at Liberty Fields


(1-MAR-24) The Recreation Commission has reported vandalism at Liberty Fields. The fences that prevent access to the fields still under construction have been knocked down on four different occasions. Each time, construction company Green Acres has had to come repair the damage caused by the vandalism. The Boxborough Police Department is aware of this situation and will be sending out multiple patrols on every shift.

 

Megan Connor, Chair of the Recreation Commission, stated that the Recreation Commission will have to shut down both entrances to Liberty Fields if this vandalism continues. 

  

To date, the construction company has allowed access to the playground, the adult fitness area, and the tennis, pickleball, and basketball courts earlier than the rest of the fields while they are still under construction. 

   

The fields are scheduled to open in June 2024. However, according to Connor, the vandalism will delay the scheduled opening if people and dogs are able to walk on the fields. She asks people to please not use this part of Liberty Fields and to report vandalism to the police.  

  

“Please do not ruin the opportunity to let people play on the courts and playground by tearing down the fence,” said Connor, “and please help the volunteers on the Recreation Commission spread the word out to the community!”

Town of Boxborough Posts Draft Warrant for 2024 Annual Town Meeting


(1-MAR-24) On Monday, Feb. 26, the Town of Boxborough posted a draft warrant for 2024 Annual Town Meeting. The draft warrant currently contains 47 articles, three of which will be considered in a Special Town Meeting to occur within the Annual Town Meeting. 


The Town Meeting warrant will be finalized in early April and mailed to every residence in Boxborough at the end of April. 


Town Meeting will begin on Monday, May 13 at 7 p.m. and is scheduled to continue as needed on May 14, 15, 16, and 20. 

  

The draft warrant is available at https://bit.ly/48xXjvK

Economic Development Committee Votes to Re-Open Boxborough Business Grant Program

(1-MAR-24) At its meeting on Feb. 22, the Economic Development Committee voted to issue a revised Notice of Funding Available (NOFA) for the second round of the Boxborough Business Grant Program.The rolling application period opened on February 26. 

  

The grant program is run by the Town Planner and the EDC; it is funded by Boxborough’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) appropriation. The program provides forgivable loans to small Boxborough businesses that meet the requirements of the program. The first application period ran from August 2023 to January 2024. The town received four applications and expects to issue $80,000 in funding. 

  

In September, the EDC awarded its first $20,000 grant to Two Friends Chocolate at 629 Massachusetts Avenue. Three additional $20,000 grant awards are approved, contingent on successful contract completion: to Oscar’s Burritos (34 Massachusetts Avenue) for café-style coffee in the morning hours; to AlphaCars (649 Massachusetts Avenue) for the hiring of a social media specialist to assist in online advertising; and to Rest Assured Remediations (152 Liberty Square Road) for expansion of workforce, advertising, and capital equipment.

  

There is $40,000 of grant funding remaining for the second round of the program. Instead of offering grants “up to $20,000,” as in round one, round two will offer grants “in the range of $5,000 to $15,000, but will not restrict applications to a specific dollar amount.” Committee members agreed that their objective in the second round is to issue “as many grants as possible.”

   

The Committee also held several votes regarding the grant awards from round one. They voted to execute a completed contract between the town and Oscar’s Burritos, voted to form a working group regarding contract terms with Rest Assured Remediation, and voted to close the public hearing on the AlphaCars application and approve a $20,000 grant to AlphaCars contingent on contract completion.

Building Committee Discusses Stow Road Land Purchase for New Fire Station

(1-MAR-24) At its meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 21, the Boxborough Building Committee (BBC) discussed the next steps for building a fire station on the property at 70-72 Stow Road. The Board will not bring a property purchase to the upcoming Annual Town Meeting in May and will instead form a working group to move the project forward.

  

The property is currently under the control of the Housing Board and was acquired with Boxborough Affordable Housing Trust funds in 2010 with the intent of building affordable housing. 

  

More recently the Building Committee conducted a site feasibility study for public safety facilities. On Jan. 31, the BBC voted to recommend the Select Board move forward on use of the Stow Road site for a new fire station. 

  

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Housing Board, Affordable Housing Trust, and the Select Board was executed in 2011. Should the land not be used for affordable housing, the MOU states that the Housing Board must be fairly compensated, with such funds returned to the Trust. The MOU says that the amount of fair compensation is to be by mutual agreement of the Housing Board, the Trustees, and the Select Board. 

  

Besides agreeing on compensation, two other steps are required for other use of the land. First, the Housing Board must vote and notify the Select Board that they have no need of the land. Subsequently, a two-thirds vote at a town meeting is required for the land to be used for non-affordable housing purposes. 

  

“We still have a lot of work to pull it all together,” said Kristin Hilberg, Chair of both BBC and the Select Board. The Building Committee recommended the formation of a working group with two members each from the Housing Board, Affordable Housing Trust, and Select Board. The group will establish an agreed upon price and the terms and conditions of the property transfer and then bring the package to town meeting in the fall of 2024 or in May 2025.

  

The Building Committee is also considering the possibility of “divorcing” the land acquisition from the plan to build the fire station; that is, to ask for approval at a town meeting to buy the property first and then decide what to do with it.

Boxborough Historical Commission Discusses Project Progress and April 19, 2025

   

(1-MAR-24) At its meeting on Feb. 15, the Boxborough Historical Commission reviewed several historically related projects that are underway in town. 


The Commission discussed ongoing maintenance and repair work at the Museum, undertaken by the Boxborough DPW, and the planned restoration work on the 1784 Levi Wetherbee Farmhouse at Steele Farm and the Steele Farm ice house, to be done by outside contractors. The Commission was pleased that the roof and chimney work on the Steele farmhouse will start soon and that the request for proposal for the work on the ice house had been issued.

  

In addition to physical projects, the Commission reviewed three ongoing efforts to recognize, by way of signage, two historic houses and one location in the town. The location sign is to replace the “Boxboro Depot” sign which was demolished by rail maintenance work in December 2022. The signs have been ordered.

  

The Commission has begun work on a presentation about Lucie Caroline Hager, Boxborough’s 19th century historian and poet. The presentation is to be delivered later in 2024.

  

The 250th  anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord is on April 19,  2025. The Commission is considering what might be appropriate to commemorate this event, given that Boxborough was not founded until February 1783 but that men from what would become Boxborough fought at Concord’s North Bridge.

  

The next meeting of the Commission is Thursday, April 18, at 7 p.m. at the Boxborough Museum, 575 Middle Road.

SPCP Final flier.pdf

“Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships” Event to be Held March 16

(1-MAR-24) On Saturday, March 16, Boxborough residents will have the opportunity to participate in a “Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships” program facilitated by conciliation specialists from the U.S. Department of Justice.

  

The one-day SPCP program is designed to collect feedback from the public about the Boxborough Police Department and serve as a safe environment for discussion about police-community relations. 

  

The program will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Blanchard Elementary School. Lunch will be served. All Boxborough residents are encouraged to attend.

  

"The main goal of the SPCP Program is to help three fundamental questions be answered by members of the community in a controlled, safe environment, where all viewpoints and perspectives are encouraged and respected,” said Police Chief John Szewczyk. “The questions are: (1) what is Boxborough PD doing right?; (2) what can Boxborough PD do better?; and (3) how can Boxborough PD achieve improvements in these areas?”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service, the SPCP “is designed to improve public safety by strengthening trust and developing partnerships between law enforcement professionals and the diverse communities they serve.”

  

Since September, an SPCP Planning Group has met twice a month to prepare for the March 16 event. The Planning Group includes representatives from the town of Boxborough, the police department, Blanchard Elementary School, faith-based communities, and the community at large.  

  

Chief Szewczyk brought the SPCP program to Boxborough after he learned about it from another police department in Massachusetts. The program came highly recommended as a productive way for a police department to get feedback from the community.

  

After the March 16 event, the conciliation specialists from the DOJ will deliver a report and recommendations to Chief Szewczyk and the Town Administrator. If there is interest from the community, an SPCP Council may be formed to be involved in the implementation of any recommendations. 

Boxborough Finance Committee Considers Traffic Study, School Budget, Town Department Budgets

(23-FEB-24) At its meeting on Feb. 13, the Boxborough Finance Committee met with Boxborough Planning Board Chair Mark White to discuss the Planning Board’s warrant article for a town-wide traffic study. White said the Board wants the study to establish a baseline for any projects that may be presented during the next 10 years. 

The Board obtained three quotes from consultants, with the lowest at $55,000. The warrant article asks for that figure and an additional $5,000 to pay for changes that may occur before they hire the consultant. 


FinCom spent 90 minutes discussing the Acton Boxborough Regional School District budget. At the time of this discussion, ABRSD had proposed a budget of $115 million, which would require an override in Acton. Boxborough’s share of the assessment would increase by 15.59 percent or $2.17 million more than last year. 


That increase, coupled with the town budget and warrant articles, would significantly reduce Boxborough’s levy capacity which is the difference between the maximum allowable levy of $28 million and the proposed tax levy of $27 million. 


Technically the town can spend up to the maximum allowable levy for the current fiscal year, but doing so leaves significantly less capacity for the next year, which may necessitate an override in Boxborough. 


FinCom Chair Maria Neyland reported that at the ABRSD Budget Saturday meeting on February 10, the School Committee said they will consider cutting another $1 million from their budget. That would mean a reduction of $170,000 for Boxborough. At least one member of FinCom wanted to see a $500,000 reduction in the assessment. FinCom decided to hold off on their vote until after the School Committee voted the budget on Thursday, Feb. 15.  


In other matters, FinCom voted unanimously to recommend the following department budgets: Executive offices, the Town Accountant, the Assessor, the Treasurer/Collector, the Town Clerk, and the Technology budget.  In preparation for Annual Town Meeting in May, FinCom plans to recommend or not recommend warrant articles and the remaining department budgets at their next hybrid meeting at Town Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Town Planner Announces “Call for Concepts” for 2024 Summer Forum Series

(23-FEB-24) This week, Town Planner Alec Wade put out a “call for concepts” for Boxborough’s second “Summer Forum Series.” The Summer Forum Series is designed to foster resident engagement with town issues. 


Last year, the town held three Summer Forums on the topics of a Sargent Memorial Library redesign, the Complete Streets program, and the Carbon Reduction for Earth Wellbeing program. 


The call for proposals for the 2024 series will go out in two waves. The first wave will go out to the land use boards and committees as well as department heads. The second wave will go out to all other boards and committees.  Any resident interested in an educational or engagement topic is encouraged to approach a board or committee to sponsor the event. 


“While we encourage topics that relate to land use,” says Wade, “it is not a requirement. The goal of the Summer Forum series is to spur engagement between Boxborough and its government, giving the people regular opportunities to participate in their community.” The call for concepts will be open until mid-March. 

Photo courtesy of Kirby Dolak - LCTV

Boxborough Residents Participate in Village Center Forum

(23-FEB-24) On Saturday, February 10, approximately 50 Boxborough residents gathered at Town Hall and via Zoom to discuss and share ideas for a Boxborough “village center.” The public engagement event was one component of a larger village center revitalization project funded by a Community Planning Grant secured by Boxborough’s Economic Development Committee. The town has hired consultants Tighe & Bond and Innes Associates to carry out the project. The consultants will give the town a final report and recommendations in mid-May.


After a short introduction by Sharon Rooney of Tighe & Bond, participants were engaged in interactive exercises centered around a series of maps of Boxborough’s Route 111 corridor. Facilitators asked participants about when and how they access this area, what opportunities and challenges they saw for creating places of community and connection, and what has changed since a similar “town center” exercise was done prior to the pandemic.


 Participants were also asked to react to different types of streetscape photos and explain what types of spaces, buildings, landscaping, and businesses they would like to see in a future village center. Following the exercises, team members from Tighe & Bond summarized the input that was received. Overwhelmingly, residents expressed a desire for gathering spaces like coffee shops and restaurants, a general store, and parks, all on a scale that would complement Boxborough’s historic and natural resources. 


Participants then voiced additional comments on the development of a village center including sustainability measures that would minimize tree cutting, recycle the existing buildings, and build to the requirements of the Specialized Stretch Code for any new construction. Additional comments focused on aesthetics–the resemblance to traditional New England architecture–and a suggestion to include an arts center in the village plan. One participant noted that the biggest impediment for any development in Boxborough is the lack of public water and sewer that would support the type of desired businesses.  For more information on the village center revitalization project, visit https://bit.ly/Village-Center

Personnel Board Rates and Classifies Two New Positions 

(23-FEB-24) At its meeting on February 13, the Personnel Board rated and classified two new positions proposed by the Town Administrator - a Human Services Director and a Recreation Coordinator - using the rating system developed by GovHR, a compensation consultant hired by the town in 2020. 

Positions are rated based on factors like education, training, experience, independent judgment and decision making, policy making, planning, supervision, and working conditions.  According to Assistant Town Administrator Rajon Hudson, the decision to create a Human Services Director was necessitated by the growing needs of human services. 

The position will manage several functions including the Council on Aging, Community Services, Recreation Department, and Veteran Services. The plan is to promote an existing coordinator, who will continue to handle their underlying function. There is no addition to staff for fiscal year 2025. 


The Recreation Coordinator will serve as the point person for recreation programming and development and handle the day-to-day functions currently performed by the Recreation Commission volunteers.  

  

Both positions will be added to the Compensation and Classification schedule to be voted at Annual Town Meeting. The Board voted for a 3% COLA (cost of living) increase for non-union and non-contract employees. In addition to the COLA, the Personnel Plan provides a 2.5% “step” increase for all eligible employees.  


The Board also voted for proposed changes to the vacation policy found in the Personnel Plan. Allan MacLean, Personnel Board member, said that the proposed changes “provide clarity” as to how vacation time is calculated for regular reduced-hour and regular part-time employees. The timing of accrual has been changed to the anniversary date of hire.  The next meeting of the Personnel Board is scheduled for Tuesday, March 5 at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

Housing Board Discusses Affordable Housing Policy, 70-72 Stow Road 

(23-FEB-24) At its meeting on Thursday, February 15, the Boxborough Housing Board (BHB) discussed issues surrounding master-deed restrictions on affordable housing units, the 70-72 Stow Road property, and the future leadership and membership of the BHB.


In response to a complaint, the board discussed the temporary waiver they had granted to an owner of one of the affordable housing units monitored by the BHB. The waiver allowed the owner to rent out part of the condo, which is not in accordance with the master-deed restrictions. The board voted not to extend the waiver beyond its six-month period and will issue a letter to the owner that the rental agreement must be terminated in May 2024.


BHB member Al Murphy reported that the Boxborough Building Committee voted for the 70-72 Stow Road property as their preferred site for a fire station. The property is currently owned by the BHB for the purpose of building affordable housing. 


At its previous meeting, the BHB voted to accept payment for the property in the amount of $1.2 million, which was based on recent property appraisals. The BHB will sell the property to the Town under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was prepared in 2011. 


Sale proceeds will be added to the Boxborough Affordable Housing Trust and will be used to purchase, manage, and maintain affordable housing units in Boxborough. Board members discussed the next steps for ensuring that the trust was fairly compensated for the land as well as the need for inclusionary zoning in Boxborough, which would help increase affordable housing.


Channing Wagg, BHB Chair, announced that his term on the board will end in June 2024 and that he will not seek reappointment. New members are needed. Boxborough residents interested in learning more about the Boxborough Housing Board should visit boxborough-ma.gov/338/Housing-Board or reach out to Al Murphy at amurphy@boxborough-ma.gov.



ABRSD School Committee Votes $114,380,105 Million Preliminary Budget 

(23-FEB-24) At its February 15 meeting, the School Committee voted to set the ABRSD fiscal year 2025 Preliminary Budget at $114,380,105. Based on this Preliminary Budget, Boxborough’s assessment would be $15,960,274. This is an increase of 14.46% from last year’s assessment to Boxborough, which was $13,944,299.


The School Committee’s Preliminary Budget is $133,355 higher than the Superintendent’s Recommended Budget. The School Committee unanimously amended the Superintendent’s Recommended Budget to add back certain student-facing positions previously cut from the budget (six Elementary Reading Assistants and a Certified Elementary Librarian).


After this Preliminary Budget vote, the budget cannot be increased, only decreased. The next step in the budget process is to hold a public budget hearing on March 7, 2024. In the meantime, the School Committee will also be working on the $108 million “B” Budget, the alternative budget that will be used if Acton voters do not pass the Proposition 2 ½ override.


Before the School Committee voted on the Preliminary Budget, Superintendent Peter Light presented his Recommended Budget, which was $1.1 million lower than the $115.3 million draft budget discussed at “Budget Saturday” five days earlier. 


The Superintendent decreased the budget in response to the School Committee’s request at the end of Budget Saturday that the district cut the budget by an additional $1 million. The School Committee made this request in part due to concerns expressed by Boxborough leadership about the increase in Boxborough’s assessment.


The $1.1 million in reductions included savings in health care costs that resulted from a change in the Superintendent’s recommendation with respect to health insurance (from the current Health Insurance Trust to the MIAA Benchmark 3 Plan). The cuts also included a reduced contribution to the “Other Post-Employment Benefits” (OPEB) trust, a reduction of one kindergarten section, and reductions in other programs and services. It also included an increase in kindergarten tuition.

Boxborough Sustainability Creates Co-Chairs, Considers A-B Sisters’ New Recycling Effort

(16-FEB-24) At their meeting Feb. 8, Boxborough’s Sustainability Committee changed its leadership structure. The BSC also encouraged two Boxborough sisters to continue their efforts to improve the town’s recycling program. 

  

The committee unanimously approved Chair Francie Nolde’s proposal that she and member Kate Davies become co-chairs of the BSC. In 2009 Nolde became chair of the Town’s new Energy Committee and continued as chair when the group became the Sustainability Committee.

  

BSC members agreed with Nolde’s request that Davies will eventually become committee chair. Davies teaches in Tufts University’s Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Department.

  

Acton-Boxborough Regional High School junior Surabhi Sinha and her freshman sister Sunidhi gave the committee a report on their efforts to combat climate change by exploring ways the Town can add drop stations for plastics that cannot be recycled. 

  

The Sinha sisters spent last summer looking closely at how recycling and trash are handled by the town and disposal companies. They believe an education program can show people how to dispose of different types of plastics at new drop sites in town. 

  

The Boxborough sisters plan to ask the BSC for funds for signs and educational materials. They will present their proposal to town officials later this year.

  

Nolde reported that Town Planner Alec Wade says the Town has now met all the qualifications to apply to the state next June to become a Green Community. The BSC will work with Wade to decide how best to use the initial Green Community grant of about $130,000 to combat climate change.

  

The BSC will hold a special public meeting on Feb. 27 to learn from Littleton Electric Light and Water Department about the “distribution rate” LELWD charges homeowners who use solar panels.

  

The BSC will hold its regular monthly meeting on March 14. The agenda will include a reexamination of “pay-as-you-throw” trash disposal systems.

Economic Development Committee Hears Three Business Grant Applications

(16-FEB-24) At its meeting on February 8, the Economic Development Committee held public hearings to consider three recent applications to the Boxborough Business Grant Program.

  

In the first public hearing, the Committee reviewed an application submitted by the owner of Oscar’s Burritos at 34 Massachusetts Avenue. The applicant seeks $20,000 of grant funding for renovations and staffing necessary to offer café-style coffee and pastries in his existing restaurant, starting at 7 a.m. The applicant plans to eventually offer additional breakfast items as well. The Committee voted to accept the application, authorize Town Planner Alec Wade to issue an award letter to the applicant, and move forward with the contracting phase.

  

In the second public hearing, the Committee reviewed an application submitted by the owner of AlphaCars at 649 Massachusetts Ave. The applicant seeks $20,000 of grant funding for the hiring of a social media specialist to assist in online advertising. The public hearing was continued to February 22 to allow the Town Planner to research a technical question on the timing of the application. Committee members also asked the applicant to provide more information about how the planned use of funds will bring people to Boxborough.

  

The third public hearing concerned an application from Rest Assured Remediations, a small business run from a home on Liberty Square Road. The applicant seeks $20,000 in grant funding for expansion of workforce and advertising, as well as the purchase of capital equipment. The applicant explained that the funds would be used to help him “get back on his feet” after Covid-19. After asking the applicant a number of questions about his business, the Committee voted to accept the application conditional on successful completion of contract terms, which may include a “milestone” system in which smaller incremental awards would be issued upon completion of specific business development milestones.

  

The grant program is run by the Boxborough Economic Development Committee and funded by Boxborough’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) appropriation. The program provides up to $20,000 in matching funds as a grant to small businesses that meet the requirements of the program. In September, the EDC awarded its first $20,000 grant to Two Friends Chocolate at 629 Massachusetts Avenue.

Finance Committee Members Disagree on Whether to Support School Budget Increase

(16-FEB-24) At a three-hour joint meeting on February 6, the Finance Committee (Fin Com) and the Select Board met with Peter Light, Superintendent for the Acton Boxborough Regional School District (ABRSD), to review the proposed school budget for Fiscal Year 2025. The major budget drivers include the cost of health insurance, special education, and personnel costs.   

  

A level service budget for FY2025 would be $117M, an increase of 11% over last year’s revised budget of $106M. The School Committee asked Light to develop a budget with a $2M reduction off the level service budget. Accordingly, Light’s preliminary “A” budget (requiring the passage of an override in Acton) is $115M, an increase of 8.56% over last year. Boxborough’s share of the assessment is $16M, which is a 15.59% ($2.17M) increase over last year.

 

Select Board Chair Kristen Hilberg and Fin Com Chair Maria Neyland expressed concern about the impact of the budget increase on Boxborough residents. While Acton residents will get the opportunity to vote on an override, Boxborough residents only vote on the budget presented at town meeting. Neyland explained that Boxborough has budgeted very conservatively over the years, building up the town’s levy limit to $2.3M, which is now in jeopardy of being depleted. The depletion in the levy limit may push Boxborough to an override next year. 

  

Hilberg expressed that the district and towns need to consider the impact of the budget increase on all residents. If the budget passes in both towns, property taxes will rise. She “entreated” the school committee to come up with some sort of a “compromise.” 

  

Neyland advocated for a compromise that would keep the increase in Boxborough’s assessment to only 10-11% instead of 15.59%. Light explained that in order to do so, the district would need to cut an additional $4.5M over the $2M reduction already baked into the $115M “A” budget.   

  

Both Fin Com and Select Board members asked what structural changes the School Committee planned to implement to make ABRSD more efficient. Light said they are looking at several options, but nothing has been decided.  

  

Fin Com Chair Maria Neyland and Fin Com member Becky Neville both said they plan to vote against the 15.59% assessment increase because they have not seen or heard of any structural changes in the way ABRSD operates to make the budget sustainable year over year. 

  

Fin Com member Tony Newton disagreed with Neyland and Neville, stating that he will support the increase in the school assessment and trust that the professionals (administration) will make this work. Other Fin Com members did not indicate how they plan to vote. 

  

Fin Com members asked about the district’s increased costs over the past several years, particularly with respect to a 40% increase in the cost of “instructional leadership” over the past five years. Light stated that there has been a fundamental shift in teaching with respect to special education and English language learners. The district now has more than 400 English language learners that did not exist six years ago. ABRSD has had to hire teaching coaches to help teachers adapt to new teaching environments and new teaching requirements. 

  

Fin Com plans to vote on the school budget at its next meeting on February 13 at 7 p.m. The meeting will be a hybrid meeting. 

Steele Farm Preservation Moves Forward; Disc Golf Proposal Turned Down

(16-FEB-24) At its meeting on February 8, Steele Farm Advisory Committee Chair Christoper Hydak welcomed Fred Waugh as a new member. Hydak reported that the repair of the roof and chimney as the first part of the Phase II effort to preserve the envelope of the 1784 Levi Wetherbee farmhouse at Steele Farm will start as soon as weather permits. He also announced that the request for proposal for the restoration of the ice house is expected to be on the State central bid register on February 9.

  

As a result of a vote at a Boxborough Town Meeting, activities at Steele Farm are subject to a conservation restriction between the Town and The Trustees of Reservations. Hydak reported that he had submitted the disc golf proposal to the Trustees for their review and opinion. He discussed the email that had been received from the Trustees on January 30 stating that disc golf could not be allowed on the property under terms of the restriction. The applicants have been notified.

  

The Committee reviewed the final draft of an updated charter for the group. After minor changes, the charter was approved for submission to the Select Board for its review.

  

The Committee also discussed farm maintenance being done by the Boxborough DPW. A proposal will be submitted to the Acton-Boxborough Regional High School Community Service Day for students to work on the property. The Committee is starting to inventory all of the items in the barn with the goal of reorganizing the barn and its contents and removing the items that no longer need to be stored there.

  

The next meeting of the Committee will take place on Thursday, March 7 at the Boxborough Museum, 575 Middle Road at 7 p.m.

Select Board Hears ARPA Spending Update and Votes to Reallocate Funds

(16-FEB-24) At its meeting on February 12, the Select Board heard an update from Town Administrator Michael Johns about the town’s use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

  

After the ARPA legislation was passed in 2021, the town received $1.7 million in federal funds intended to be used for expenses related to COVID-19 recovery. The funds must be appropriated by the end of calendar year 2024 and must be spent by the end of calendar year 2026.

  

The town currently has $1.1 million in remaining ARPA funds. TA Johns recommended to the Select Board that some unspent ARPA funds be reallocated from lower-priority projects to three high-priority infrastructure needs: replacing DPW fuel storage tanks ($120,000), replacing the Liberty Square Road culvert at Guggins Brook that has flooded the road multiple times already this year ($500,000), and site analysis and conceptual designs for a new fire station ($51,500).

  

TA Johns explained that even though the funds were originally committed to different projects, these three infrastructure issues require immediate attention and ARPA funds are designed to be used for critical infrastructure needs. 

  

The Select Board voted to reallocate $35,000 of the $142,500 currently in the “Fire ARPA” category (intended for fire cistern repair and maintenance) for a fire station site analysis to be completed in advance of Annual Town Meeting. 

  

In other business, the Select Board voted to open the May 2024 Annual Town Meeting warrant and add articles concerning cistern inspections, salary reserves, and a water line extension easement; voted to approve a 3% Cost of Living Allowance for non-union and non-contract employees; voted to accept a $5,986 Firefighter Safety Equipment Grant awarded to the Boxborough Fire Department; and voted to approve a BXB-TV video data retention policy.

  

The Select Board discussed, but did not vote on, ways for the town to express its appreciation for volunteers and staff. The Board also discussed, but did not vote on, the Select Board’s and Town Administrator’s strategic goals. 

On “Budget Saturday,” School Committee Asks District for Possible Additional Budget Cuts


(16-FEB-24) On Saturday, February 10, the School Committee held its all-day “Budget Saturday” workshop. After seven hours of presentations and discussion, the School Committee asked Superintendent Peter Light for a list of cuts that could shave $1 million off “Budget A,” the budget that would move forward if Acton voters approve a Proposition 2 ½ override.

  

The Committee decided to explore reducing Budget A after hearing concerns expressed by Boxborough Finance Committee and Select Board members about the 15.59% increase in Boxborough’s assessment that would result if Budget A passes. If Budget A is reduced by $1M, the increase in Boxborough’s assessment would be roughly 14.37% instead of 15.59%.

  

Currently, Budget A is a $115M total budget appropriation and represents a $2M reduction from a level services budget. To further reduce the budget by another $1M, Superintendent Light floated reducing or eliminating the planned annual contribution to the “Other Post-Employment Benefits” (OPEB) trust. Other than that, Light indicated that additional cuts would likely be student-facing. Superintendent Light will bring a revised Budget A to the next School Committee meeting on February 15.    

  

The Committee also agreed to create a task force to study potential structural changes to the district that may reduce costs in the future. These potential structural changes include transportation changes, changes in school start times, ending “open enrollment” for elementary schools, and closing an elementary school.

  

The Budget Saturday presentations included a budget overview, a presentation on special education, a presentation on administration and “instructional leadership,” an educator panel, a presentation on potential structural changes, and an open Q&A session. The budget workshop was recorded by ActonTV and is available at https://www.youtube.com/c/ActonTV1

News from the Recreation Commission: RunBXB, MyRec, and Pickleball 

(16-FEB-24) The Boxborough Recreation Commission is excited to announce the second annual RunBXB, a 3.2-mile fun and challenging course for all ages starting and ending at Steele Farm, on Sunday, April 7. Registration will open at 10:30 and the race will begin at 11 a.m. 

  

Registration will be $25, which will help to pay for timing and bibs from race-timing company Yankee Timing. T-shirts will be available for purchase, and vendors will sell food and drink for runners and their fans. The Recreation Commission is working with the Boxborough Economic Development Committee to bring in a few new local vendors. 

  

On January 30, the Recreation Commission voted to approve use of the “MyRec” recreation software. Residents will be able to use the MyRec system to register for Recreation Commission programs and events, including Flerra Summer Playground. The software will also allow for enhanced recordkeeping and funds tracking. The town is hoping to implement the MyRec system as soon as possible. 

  

The Recreation Commission is also in the process of working with Marcus Lewis Tennis Center in Acton to offer pickleball and tennis lessons for adults and children at Liberty Field this spring. Some of the proceeds from the cost of the lessons will go back to the town. Stay tuned for details. 

  

The Recreation Commission expects that the nets on the Liberty Field tennis and pickleball courts will go up in late March, depending on the weather, and they are working on systems for reserving tennis and pickleball courts. 

Planning Board Discusses Zoning Bylaw Amendments, Seeks $60K for Traffic Study, Reviews Zoning Enforcement at 984 Mass Ave

(16-FEB-24) At its meeting on Monday, February 12, the Planning Board held a public hearing to revise the zoning bylaw with respect to detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs), commercial dumps, and hazardous waste facilities. 

  

At the May 2023 Annual Town Meeting, voters approved an article amending the zoning bylaw on detached ADUs, but the bylaw capped the number of allowable permits to 10 per calendar year. The Attorney General struck down the 10 permit limit, so the bylaw must be updated to reflect that change. The Planning Board will bring the zoning bylaw amendments to Annual Town Meeting in May. A two-thirds vote is required for zoning bylaw changes.

  

The Board then turned to its warrant article for a comprehensive traffic study. After reviewing three proposals from local engineering firms with costs ranging from $55,000 to $95,000, the Board determined that $60,000 was the appropriate amount to seek for this study. The Board’s discussion included the scope of the study as well as which roads and intersections should be included. Voters will decide whether to fund the traffic study at Annual Town Meeting in May.

  

The last order of business was the enforcement order issued to the new property owners of 984 Massachusetts Avenue. On December 7, 2023, the property owner was issued a cease and desist letter for suspected violation of the Town’s Stormwater Bylaw. The owner had agreed to submit an existing conditions plan (an analysis of the site) no later than February 1, 2024, but failed to meet the deadline for submission. As a result, the town issued an enforcement order to the property owner; the property owner must submit a Storm Water Management Plan by February 19. 

  

Town Planner Alex Wade reported to the Board that on February 12, he and Sue Carter of Places Associates, the Town’s engineering consultant, attempted to visit the site to observe what they could from the public and common right-of-ways, but they met with resistance from an “aggrieved” neighbor who called the police. Eventually, Wade, but not Carter, was escorted onto the property by the property owner and the Boxborough Police detective to make his observations.

Village Center Engagement Event 2.10.24_202402010825442739.pdf