While the Patriots were fumbling, throwing, and whiffing away their Monday Night Football game to the Chicago Bears, Wellesley Town Meeting members were ready for some Special Town Meeting articles and Did Their Job in one 3-hour sitting (see Wellesley Media recording embedded below).
The highlight of Special Town Meeting warrant was Article 2 regarding the renovation of iconic Wellesley Town Hall’s interior, which will undergo a major engineering and construction project to address its lack of accessibility, outdated mechanical systems, and employee safety and comfort—all while preserving its historic aspects. Presentations and discussion about renovating the 1880’s-era building took less than 90 minutes, with some concerns raised that the renovated building will accommodate fewer employees and departments given the space needs to make the building accessible.
Unlike the Patriots, the town chose to invest more money ($23M in this round) in its aging star, which last had its version of major botox and other treatments in 1985. Wellesley is taking advantage of higher-than-usual amounts of free cash and other available funds or borrowing that will avoid a debt exclusion (aka, tax increase) three-peat to pay for the facelift and other surgery. While a couple of Town Meeting members did raise questions about the possibility of drafting younger and cheaper building space for its needs, Town Meeting voted overwhelmingly in favor of the motion by a score of 191-13-3. No real quarterback controversy here.
Other items of note:
- Motion 1 under Article 3 focused on funding for workers’ comp claims, which have been on the rise of late. Some Town Meeting members wondered what was up with that, but town officials didn’t pinpoint any specific reason for the increase in claims, which have numbered 35 or more each of the past 2 years.
- An abutter on Hardy Road spoke in opposition to Article 6, Motion 1, allowing for the widening of that cul-de-sac as part of the Hardy Elementary School building project, which has been permitted by the town. The widening would allow for left and right turn lanes to exit. The abutter raised environmental and traffic concerns about widening the road by 16 feet (“putting an asphalt football field at the edge of that property”), which would also gain a traffic light as part of the project. Others stated that the focus on the motion was strictly on the widening of the road, and that the traffic flow had already been permitted. Town Meeting voted 142-44-19 in favor of the motion.
- Article 8, Motion 1 was a feel-good item near the meeting’s finish, with the town proposing to rescind some $3.4M in unused and no longer necessary borrowing authorizations on a handful of projects, including the main library renovation and roof, Walnut Street stormwater and paving project, and Middle School building systems. When Town Executive Director uttered the words “under budget,” Town Meeting let out what we imagine was a remote “heck ya,” and voted unanimously in favor of it.
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