By Kim Siebert MacPhail
From our first day on June 13 until today, The Bedford Citizen published a total of 367 articles on a range of Bedford-centric subjects such as the local weather, our districts’ primaries and election, the completion of the Blake Block, housing, athletic fields, water system woes, new businesses in town, and triumphs and challenges for our schools, to name a small sampling.
As we head into Town election and Annual Town Meeting season, we take this opportunity to look back at some of the big storiesof 2012 that help us to prepare for the early months on 2013 and beyond.
State House representation
Lexington’s Mike Barrett and Bedford’s Ken Gordon prevailed in district elections this November and will represent Bedford in the State Senate and House, respectively.
At a meeting in early December, Barrett and Gordon discussed the town’s top ten legislative priorities as identified by the Town Manager and Selectmen.
With Bedford now undergoing a Comprehensive Plan update that will guide us during the next ten years, many issues have risen to the forefront that question how the town will address growth, zoning, housing, business development, as well as how the tax base will be apportioned.
Will mixed-use work on Middlesex Turnpike?
- Aug. 8: Planning Board Reacts Negatively to Conversion Proposal at 100 Plank Street
- Dec. 14: Plank Street Redevelopment Plan Sent Back to the Drawing Board
Will mixed-use work on Loomis St. in the Depot Park overlay district?
- Jul. 20: Neighbors Unhappy with Redevelopment Plans at 54 Loomis Street; Planning Board Takes Longer View
- Aug. 31: Loomis Street Developer Hears from Neighborhood
As a mature suburb, Bedford faces a number of challenges. The Citizen published a three part series about housing trends:
- Jul. 13: Housing In Bedford, Part One
- Jul. 27: How Bedford’s Housing has Evolved
- Aug. 7: Housing Part Three: What Does the Future Hold?
What will become of the former Travelodge site at 285 The Great Road?
- Jun. 24: Town Deliberates Response to Great Road Changes at Travelodge Site
- Aug. 3: Traffic Safety Concerns Remain at Travelodge Site for Selectmen, Planning Board
What changes for Bedford’s sign bylaws will be recommended at Town Meeting?
In June, the Selectmen appointed a nine-member task force called The Outdoor Recreation Area Study Committee (ORASC) to examine, primarily, the condition and number of Bedford’s athletic fields. With its research, ORASC made the case for a synthetic turf field to be installed at Sabourin Football Field and a packed house at Special Town Meeting in November supported the findings by voting to approve the $1.087M project.
Now, although agreements have been reached that would mitigate the former St. Michael’s property wetlands with a land-swap— as well as conservation restrictions on several other properties the Conservation Commission wants to protect— the question remains whether creating fields at St. Michael’s is the next best course of action. The Selectmen await additional information from ORASC:
- Dec.7: Selectmen, Sukoff Disagree on St. Michael’s Land Process
- Dec. 14: Selectmen Postpone Decision for Athletic Field Design on Former St. Michael’s Land
There are several different ways that the issue of walkability has emerged as a mega-theme. The Planning Board’s Comprehensive Plan dedicates portion of its focus to mobility and the related subjects of walking, biking, and transportation.Additionally, a survey conducted by Bedford Youth and Family Services shows that residents identify these issues as both the best and the worst of Bedford life.
Two conservation land circuit trails proposed by resident and health advocate Ralph Hammond have made quick headway toward becoming reality:
- Oct. 26: Hammond Proposes Two Conservation Land Circuit Trails
- Dec. 18: Transportation Advisory Committee Discusses Traffic, A Dangerous Intersection and Two Circuit Trails
Sidewalks on Hemlock Lane and Concord Road are in the planning stages and the first phase of North Road’s sidewalk is complete:
- Oct. 20: Hemlock Lane Residents Request Sidewalk to Improve Safety
- Dec. 6: Concord Road Sidewalk Plan Extends from Hardy Road to Caesar Jones Way
- Oct. 20: North Road Sidewalk Construction Moves Ahead
After eleven years, Superintendent of Schools Maureen LaCroix retires and former Bedford High Principal John Sills is hired in her place. Former Assistant Principal Kevin Tracey takes the top spot at John Glenn Middle School and Henry Turner arrives takes the helm at the high school. Meanwhile, the search for a new principal at Davis Elementary is extended when the candidate of applicants for the job is not robust enough.
School programs, space needs, and budgets are affected by mandates and an increasingly complex student body:
- Dec. 7: English Language Learner Program Addresses Bedford’s Changing Demographics
- Dec. 12: Preliminary School Budget Shows 5.86% Rise
TheFinance Committee saw a slight— but notable— easing from recent years of tight budget constraints and set a Town Department budget increase guideline at 2.15%; the Board of Assessors recommended only a slight increase in the residential tax rate; the Capital Expenditures Committee deliberated how to prioritize 71 capital project requests such as Town vehicles, maintenance projects, energy upgrades, a new ladder truck, and an improved emergency communication system.
- Nov. 29: Tax Increase Affects Mostly Commercial Properties and New Growth; Some Homeowners To See Lower Bills than Last Quarter
- Dec. 4: Large Capital Requests Pending from Police and Fire
- Dec. 12: Capital Expenditures Considers 71 Priority Projects
- Dec.18: Finance Committee Sets Budget Guideline Increases at 2.15% for FY14
Citizens Step Up Serve on Town Boards or Run for Local Office
As we head toward the Town Caucus on January 8, here are the candidates who have announced their intention to run for a seat on one of the Town boards:
- Dec. 3: Caroline Fidele announced she will run to fill Cathy Cordes’ vacated seat
- Dec. 4: Bill Moonan will run for a second term
Editor’s Note: All of The Citizen’s stories about a topic can be found by clicking on our list of Categories, and everything published in a given month is visible when you click that month in the Archives.