Select Board Gets a Jump on Town Meeting Warrant

Special Town Meeting is scheduled for Nov. 14 – almost nine weeks away.

But there are only seven articles on the warrant, so the Select Board voted most of their recommendations at Monday night’s board meeting.

The board won’t close the warrant until Sept. 26, although Aug. 31 was the last date for town-sponsored articles,

The headliner for Special Town Meeting is an article authorizing the Select Board to acquire – by purchase or eminent domain — easements that would allow construction of the Minuteman Bikeway extension.

The article is a replica of the one that appeared on the annual town meeting warrant, said Town Manager Sarah Stanton. And as they did with that original proposal, the Select Board members Monday unanimously recommended approval.

The annual town meeting vote on March 29 was in favor of the acquisitions by about a 3-2 margin. But the eminent domain variable means a two-thirds minimum is required for approval. The Select Board, ascertaining that state funding for the extension would be available in future years, announced soon after the defeat that they would seek approval again.

Over the ensuing weeks, interest in the issue has remained high on local radar. Monday the Select Board and Town Manager discussed the probable need for overflow rooms at Bedford High School. “Make sure people feel they can participate no matter where they are” in the building, said Chair Emily Mitchell.

“The more we can advocate as Select Board members the better,” Mitchell commented, and that can be done as town committee liaisons or informally. “We like this project and we shouldn’t be afraid to say that,” Mitchell said, adding that there will be “net benefits” to the community.

Board member Ed Pierce said the School Committee could be an important ally. Stanton pointed out that the Safe-Routes-to-School program involves town staff.

Stanton agreed that it would be helpful to promote the project at committee meetings, and “make sure transparency continues.” She noted that the Department of Public Works has offered to meet with abutters and answer questions. Also, there is detailed information on the town website, which is updated often, “a living, breathing document.”

Two of the remaining special town meeting articles are for supplemental appropriations for anticipated collective bargaining agreements with public employee unions.

Besides the bikeway acquisitions and debate rules, the Select Board recommended approval of three other special town meeting articles: tuition for an additional student attending Minuteman Technical High School; community preservation supplemental funds for two small projects;  and a home-rule petition that, if approved, would allow the town to post legal advertising online instead of in a printed regional newspaper. This would require approval by the Legislature.


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