Shared Streets Grant to Promote Public Health, Safe Mobility, and Renewed Commerce

Over the summer, the Town of Bedford was awarded $62,666 in Shared Streets grant funding from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to support projects that promote public health, safe mobility, and renewed commerce.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted some existing needs and has created new ones, and these projects are intended to maximize opportunities for residents and visitors alike to take advantage of our Town resources including enhanced outdoor dining and other commercial, recreational, biking, and pedestrian facilities while supporting the recovery efforts of local businesses.

This update describes the changes that have been made possible by this grant, in collaboration with several Town Departments, committees, and business partners.

An Obituary: James S. Rouvalis

James S. Rouvalis passed away on September 19, 2020.  A long-serving teacher and Science Coordinator for the Bedford Schools, Mr. Rouvalis was renowned for his entertaining lab experiments. He also coached several sports teams and taught driver’s education. Upon retiring to Topsfield, he was “a selfless and dedicated volunteer for the Council on Aging, and Meals on Wheels.

Superintendent’s Update ~ Sunday, September 27, 2020

was informed by the Bedford Board of Health that they received a laboratory testing report indicating that a school community member (i.e., student or staff) at Lane Elementary school has been diagnosed with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

The Bedford Board of Health immediately began case investigations. The first step in a school case investigation is to determine whether or not the positive case attended school during the infectious period. According to the MA Department of Public Health (MDPH) guidelines, the infectious period for COVID-19 is two days prior to becoming symptomatic or, if asymptomatic, two days prior to testing. The Board of Health determined that the positive school community member at Lane School was not present at school during their infectious period, therefore, no close contacts were identified among the school community in this situation.

Saturday’s Walk-in Flu Clinic

According to Health Director Heidi Porter, 335 Bedford residents received flu vaccine during Saturday’s Walk-In Clinic.

With plenty of parking and pre-set appointments, there never seemed to be a crowd but rather a steady flow of senior citizens, adults, and young people arriving between 9 am and noon.

Porter thanked Bedford’s CERT team and the cadre of volunteer nurses who rounded out Saturday’s staff.

Bedford Schools and Shawsheen Updates at the end of Week One

The first full week of classes is complete, both for the Bedford School Department and for the Bedford students who attend Shawsheen Valley Techical High School.

Superintendent Philip Conrad and Principal Jessica Cook shared messages with their communities on Friday afternoon.

Businesses will Remain Open and Acessible During Shawsheen Bridge Repairs ~ October 2 to 5

In order to repair the Shawsheen River bridge along The Great Road, through traffic will be detoured from 8 pm on Friday, October 2, until 5 am on Monday, October 5.

“Businesses will remain open and accessible at either end of the detour,” confirmed DPW Director David Manugian. “Whether you’re headed to Jiffy Lube or Stop and Shop, you’ll be able to get there.”

Easter Eggs, Flamingos, and Turkeys ~ Oh My!

Some days it truly is the simplest of things that give us pleasure, amusement, or a smile.  Decorating an Easter Egg tree gives me all of those things and has been a tradition of mine for more than three decades – and some of my colorful eggs are clearly now a bit faded, fragile, and vintage.

This year, the eggs went on the tree earlier than usual, in mid-March, as a little something to brighten my Covid mood. With so many neighbors out walking to pass the time, l noticed more and more people stopping to snap a photo and say, “Thank you for this spot of color in what seems like a dark time.”

Easter has long passed and the eggs have remained on the tree for the cadre of neighborhood children (and their parents and others) who stop by daily to count the eggs and identify them by color.

One of our favorite daily visitors is an adorable two-year young lady who lives close by and spends as much time as her family will allow with the egg tree. Bird feeders and a birdbath were added and attract a colorful array of wings and birdsong.

ZBA Approves Special Permit for Redevelopment of 19 Anthony Road

In a marathon session lasting four hours and at times fraught with tension, members of the Zoning Board of Appeals granted developer Amy Coffey the special permit she has sought for months to demolish an existing house at #19 Anthony road and to construct a larger home on a non-conforming lot.  ZBA members Carol Amick, Angelo Colasante, Jeff Dearing, and Chair Todd Crowley voted in favor of approval, with member Robert Kalantari opposed.

State Delegation Joins Town to Remind Residents About Bridge Repair

The bridge on The Great Road spanning the Shawsheen River near Stop and Shop Plaza will be closed for repairs from the evening of Friday, October 2, to the morning of Monday, October 5.

State Representative Ken Gordon (D – Bedford), Senator Mike Barrett (D – Lexington), and Bedford Town Manager Sarah Stanton remind residents to seek alternate routes, if possible. The work will be contained within one weekend.

The rehabilitation plan was developed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) after a recent Bridge Rating Report found that several of the bridge’s beams have an extremely low carrying capacity. The weekend of important repairs will restore the safety and structural stability of the bridge while minimizing inconvenience to residents and businesses. The bridge will re-open before the Monday morning commute and school bus schedule.

“Given the current structure of the bridge, there is no getting around the necessity of these repairs. However, I am happy that MassDOT will be able to make them so quickly and with such little inconvenience to the town,” said Rep. Gordon when the construction was first announced. “Drivers will be detoured for the weekend, but it is a small price for a safe and stable bridge for years to come.”

Bedford’s Neighbor Brigade says “Thanks for Your Gifts of Back-to-School Masks”

Thank you to everyone who donated masks to the Bedford MA Neighbor Brigade Back to School mask drive!

We were able to collect or purchase, wash, iron, individually bag, sort by size, label, and deliver 455 masks in time for school to start. We brought 230 masks for distribution at the Bedford Food Bank, and 225 masks to the BPS Guidance Department in every color and pattern from tiny preschool to high school appropriate sizes.

Another Casualty of the Pandemic: No Special Town Meeting this Autumn

In a conversation with Select Board chair Ed Pierce on September 22, he confirmed that there is no current plan to hold a Special Town Meeting this fall.  He reiterated that a Special Town Meeting will not be scheduled unless there is an urgent need such as additional funding for the schools. 

Typically, Bedford holds its Annual Town Meeting in late March and a Special Town Meeting in October or November.

Municipal Affordable Housing Trust

Bedford renters who have been financially affected by Covid-19, including loss of employment, may now apply for emergency rental assistance grants, to maintain housing stability over the next four months.

The program was approved by the Municipal Affordable Housing Trust at a recent meeting, after consultation with the Select Board. The trust has its own resources, separate from the municipal budget. The first round of payments was capped at a total of $40,000.

School Committee’s First Meeting Focuses on Assuring Success in the 2020-2021 School Year

At the first School Committee meeting Tuesday since the start of school on Sept. 16, the focus shifted from understanding the intricate details of the reopening plan to ensuring success under the hybrid format and other administrative tasks.

Reflecting on the start of school, Superintendent Philip Conrad said it was nice having students back at all four schools.

Interscholastic Sports Return to Bedford High School

Fall interscholastic sports return to Bedford High School next week.

But like everything else, this year is different.

Keith Mangan, BHS director of athletics, said varsity golf, girls’ and boys’ cross-country, girls’ and boys’ soccer, and field hockey teams have been practicing and will compete against other Dual County League Small Schools Division opponents on Wednesdays and Saturdays. (Golf games are off-site so they are on other days as well.)

Mangan stressed that everyone realizes this scenario is not normal. “We are trying to get kids out of their homes, playing and competing. We are trying to meet their social-emotional needs. And we’ve got kids who are just happy to be here.” Mangan acknowledged that there are some student-athletes who have opted not to play this season.

There will be many changes in rules and practices, some of them dramatic, as directed by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. Players, coaches, and officials are wearing masks all the time except for designated breaks.

Here are some other highlights:

DPW Autumn Recycling Events at 108 Carlisle Road

The Department of Public Works is providing Bedford residents the opportunity to recycle or reuse a myriad of materials on two Saturdays, October 3 and 10. Both events are open to Bedford residents only and will take place from 9 am to 12 noon at the Compost Center at 108 Carlisle Road.

Hydrant Flushing ~ September 29 to October 9

The Bedford Water Division will be flushing hydrants to ensure clean, clear water throughout the distribution system.  The work will be done on weekdays between 2:00 PM and 6:00 PM from September 29 to October 9.  Signs will be set out the day before flushing in each specific area of Town.