LIVE BLOG: Framingham Special Town Meeting – Millwood Golf Course Vote

Framingham Source will be live blogging during the Special Town Meeting tonight, Sept 1.

Meeting is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. or when a quorum is reached.

While the live blog is in place please excuse the typos.

Editor’s Note: I’m predicting there will be more than 150 Town Meeting members present tonight. 

Editor’s Note: One of the largest crowds at Town Meeting in more than 5 years. There is a line for Town Meeting members to check in.

***

Town Meeting has not started yet. The moderator is waiting for Town Meeting members to finish checking in.

Moderator has banged the gavel at 7:35 p.m.

She is introducing the new Town Meeting members – precinct 1, two from 3, precinct 5, two from precinct 7, one from precinct 10.

Moderator Teri Banerjee is giving the rules of the room.

Three handouts on the table for Town Meeting members and the public.

The two developers from Southborough who have signed a letter of intent to purchase the Millwood Farms Golf Course are in Nevins Hall tonight.

Moderator explaining rules of Town Meeting and Robert’s Rules of Order.

7:42 p.m.

Please be polite. Please be civil. Listen to other speakers. Follow etiquette. – Moderator

7:43 p.m. Moderator has now called the Special Town Meeting to order

Test question of the electronic voting devices being done now — Will you work on Labor Day?

20 seconds to vote — VOTE results — 24-103-12

***

7:45 p.m.

Point of information — TMM1 Gerry Bloomfield — asking question about procedure — how will moderator call people to speak? Question on Town Meeting members vs public speaking

Town Manager Bob Halpin is speaking – he is making a presentation

“Appreciating the fact that this was an interruption of people’s summer plans.”

Gratifying to see attention of the seriousness of this matter.

Consider the purchase off 66 acres of land – two parcels – Grove Street and Millwood Street – currently serving as Millwood golf course – 14 holes

Think of this as a general fund acquisition- not golf revenues paying for these parcels — Halpin.

Very closely connected to an evolving trail system

this parcels scores very high in the town’s open space master plan — Halpin

Most of the frontage is on Millwood Street – openings on Winch and Grove Street also

Uniqueness of this proposal — this is not natural habitat

Chapter 61B — owner of a significant piece of open space  – town has the right of first refusal due to a property tax reduction

May 14 received notice of the 120-day period of right of refusal said Halpin

consultant hired to review feasibility of a retaining it as a golf course and appraisal on the property

Buyer reached out to us on June 30 —

called back on August to try to negotiate an extension – the owner said the buyer would not agree.

Offer is $5.5 million for 66 acres, contigent upon town approving all the permits on the development of the property

Development – active adult age restricted or any other development allowed by the town

The buyer has sought to clarify that — committed to dedicating at least 30 acres of open space of part of that active adult housing

Interaction of Town Counsel and Town Manger with developers on the letter yesterday.

It is not a contract said Halpin

Appraisal we commissioned said Halpin — 70 units of active adult housing bylaw — valuation $5.5 million

Conventional subdivision was about $6 million according to appraisal.

Environmental assessment

assessment of currentand past underground storage tanks

further testing of soil staining

former municipal solid waste landfill underneath

Gold market feasibility study — gold market has stabilized — according to consultant

irrigation system is functional but it is getting older

Golf course has generally turned profit of $60,00 to $80,000 without mortgage

Consult thinks town could make profit of $100,000 by running the golf course

Golf revenues will not pay for this purchase

We would like to preserve our options to look at alternatives for this property — Halpin

8:02 p.m.

Require for general municipal purposes – we can have discussion what land we would like to spin off and what land we would like to retain and we could still preserve open space said Halpin

Retain the entire 66 acres and run a golf course – debt of $329,000 said Halpin

Sell all three structures and 25 acres of land for limited development — debt $3.1 million — annual debt would be $150,00 – property taxes would be $175,000 – so break even scenario.

***

Need to ask the people in the balcony to remove their signs — Moderator

Framingham High Golf Team members had signs to support the golf course

We do not allow any political campaigning – Moderator.

***

8:05 p.m.

Committee reports

Jeanne Bullock – chair of the capital budget committee speaking – developers letter that would give 30 acres of public use and right across the street of Callahan State Park (800 acres) – we decided because we wanted more information – we wanted something in writing – met again tonight at 6:30 p.m. – the letter was email to every Town Meeting member said Bullock. Town Meeting members shaking their heads no — Framingham Source published the letter on Wednesday.

By purchasing this property we take on a liability – a capital liability – Bullock

If we can get 30 acres for nothing, we thought that was a good idea — Bullock

It will cost us every year. It will cost us forevere to run the golf course. – Bullock

WE will lose $750,000  in property taxes —

Voted not to support the purchase 6-0-1. – Capital Budget Committee.

8:10 p.m.

Finance Committee Chair speaking — $5.5 million might be better spent addressing other projects

Purchase land and keep under the town control – option to put out for sale at a greater date perhaps at a greater price.

then concern that the Town should not be in the real estate business – town in the real estate business already

Increased to average homewowner’s bill was $7.49 cents per year over bond

Vote 2-3-1 Finance Committee to purchase the property

8;:2 p.m.

Ways & Means Committee Report — Audrey Hall presenting — TMM3 — Chair

Speaking of the need for a new school

land is an appreciated asset – Not cash unless we sell it

Some of the committee members local government is not in the real estate business and should not being the golf course business either

Town manager wants to make it very clear that it is a general fund land acquisition —

Developers intentions were good some committee members felt – 30 acres without spending $5.5 million

Vote to purchase the course 5-9-0

8:15 p.m.

11-1-0 vote – Standing Committee – report at next two consecutive town meetings on the property if Town Meeting decided to purchase – Hall

Cheryl Tully Stoll speaking –8:16 p.m.

while the developer proposal has its appeal our vote to purchase only bulletproof to protect the property

we as a community get what we desire

Selectmen vote — 4-0-0 to purchase

short term borrowing — about $50,000 per year — selling off one of the structures on the property

this will give us time – to find the appropriate use for the property

8:18 p.m.

Moderator – no exhibits of clapping moderator tells the audience

PlanningBoard chair – Christine Long speaking – vote not to take a position 4-1-0

Decided not to take a position because of future development.

8:19 p.m.

Robert Bolles – TMM^ – speaking for the real property committee

5-4-1 to purchase the property

“Always going to be a huge to do list in Framingham” – Bolles — “Not always going to be this property to speak.”

Point of order — Betty Muto – speakers speak louder

Moderator asking Town Meeting members and the public to be quiet

8:21 p.m.

Chair of the Conservation Committee speaking

Precinct 4 — held a meeting – august 30th – millwood in precinct 4 — 8 TM members present – developer made a presentation at the meeting

vote precinct 4 — 1-2-5 abstain

Editor’s Note: Wow! 5 Town Meeting member from Precinct 4 went to the meeting and then chose to not vote – they abstained.

*** 8;25 p.m.

Kathy Vassar (Town Meeting Member Precinct 1 – TMM1) speaking – I rise to support the purchase

In my view the only way the town can ensure that the property is used the way we want is to purchase – and then we can control the outcome.

While there are letters and emails – there are no guarantees when it comes to evelopers, planning boards and zoning board of appeals.

Trusting developers is not something I easily due.

The town can purchase the property and could re sell it – this gives us control.

holding on to an investment property.

want to ask the letter is legally binding – to Town Counsel.

***

Town Counsel Chris Petrini speaking — that is a challenging question. Presented a letter from developer on Wednesday at 1 p.m.

The developer agreed to incorporate all my changes but one – which was on the number of units.

Likely enforceable but not guaranteed to be enforceable – said the town’s lawyer, about the developers offer to give the town 30 acres.

***

8;35 p.m.

Jim Rizzoli – TMM14 speak — we have a gun to our heads right off the back.

We basically have one day to decide if we want to buy a property worth $5.5 million

visited the property this weekend – beautiful piece of property – love to see this property stay in town.

Really really have a problem with the town in the real estate business – Rizzoli

opens the town to lawsuits as people living in the property

all you tree huggers — the town has already said they plan to sell some of the land to a developer.

You are going to lose what ever you thought you had with a shady deal with the town — Rizzoli

My point – the town wants to stop these folks – because they down the road want to sell

Editor’s Note: People yelling sit down from the audience

Moderator — I will ask the constable to remove you if you dont put the microphone down

Deb Butler – TMM7 – speaking – rise in support of purchasing the property

***

8:41 p.m.

EDitor’s Note: 152 members have checked in as of 8:44 p.m.

Richard Barritz – Point of order – confused by the CFo statement earlier

Audience members clapping

CFO – the developer can build 71 units

If we own the acreage – the developer has to build a smaller development

Moderator — you have already spoken, please sit down to Barritz

TMM17 – Ned Price — says he is confused as well

8:47 p.m.

Gerry Bloomfield – TMM1 – speaking – I come from a long line of putters …

I want the people from the public – I am in favor of recreational space and use

However, last Sunday at dusk I went to Millwood – met woman out golfing with teenage son – who said Millwood was affordable

 

The woman told Bloomfield — this is not as great a priority as school building – our school building are in need of replacement – mor ethan Fuller Farley situation

We need to be good managers of town resources – Bloomfield

We  have the 4th highest tax rate on the commercial side – Bloomfield

Water & sewerage rates are soaring — there is only so much money we can take from our town residents – Bloomfield

They had 120 days and look where we are now — the 90 day discovery period – what will they be doing? — Bloomfield

what is the difference between municipal use and recreationl use?? – Bloomfield

Until we have a compelling reason to buy that property – I will not support buying the land

we need the revenue to offset the issues the residents and town are facing – Bloomfield

***

852 p.m.

Town Counsel speaking — Selectmen will vote to exercise option and file with registry of deeds by Sept 9 and have 90 days to negotiate a purchase and sales agreement – Dec. 8th

***

Sue Bernstein TMM7 – speaking – requesting to see the map of town and open space

Town Counsel said the letter from the developers could be likely enforced — she is asking questions about the letter – Bernstein

Ask the developer a question:

***

Bill Depretri — wants to speak – he is the developer and lives out of town.

Vote by hand by Town Meeting members if they will allow the developer to speak

He is explaining the condo association — the 30 acres would be written into the condo documents.

Maintained by the condo association with no cost to the town.

***

TMM15 — Randall Cohen — would support we dont purchase the property

his rationale is that town counsel said it is likely the letter from the developer to be enforced. He said no lawyer is going to guarantee it is enforceable.

TMM4 – Herb Chasan — making financial disclosure about the Hoops & Homework – The developer made a donation to Hoops & Homework. Lawyer said no conflict. I plan to vote on the question.

TMM15 — Will Cook – Framingham High golf coach — 12 years – 9 years I volunteered – last 3 years head coach and receive stipend

please factor into your decision

support purchase land and maintain it as a golf course

I have seen 100s of kids had opportunity to enjoy thegreat outdoors andget some exercise…. we have the highest GPA of any other team in the school.

Moderator: Mr Cook you are inciting the audience.

Cook – I have seen these kids learn to play a game that they can enjoy over a lifetime. Vast majority are not country club kids.

Drake allowed the team to play for free for practice

If we are going to maintain a golf team without Millwood – we will haveto transport the team to another golf course out of town and pay for greens fees

Discussed with new athletic director and cost would be about $25,000 for free.

Drake family allows the FHS golf team to play over the summer for free.

Wonderful resource – wish we could see the looks on their faces …Cook

hate to see us lose our golf team — Cook

Jill Jones – whose letter you read in Source – is one of the top 20 girls in New England

I realize the $$ and cents are important.

I think we are as good as Natick that has its own course – as good as Holliston – Cook

Moderator – if more clapping – will ask everyone to leave.

9:08 p.m.

TMM15 – Judy Grove – this is an issue of priorities

Someone sent letter to Precinct 15 — diversity need to purchase property

The issue in Framingham is not a North-South issue — it is an east-west issue. Cushing Park is in the South.

Judy Grove comparing Millwood vs Mary Dennison Park.

She said she attended the open space meeting and Dennison Park was not on the list..

Patrick Dunne speaking – TMM9 – says he is in middle of the town and doesn’t know where he will vote

Once we operate said property – of we purchase – there will be expenses – we will need staffa nd operational costs as well.

Town Manager Bob Halpin speaking — Dennison is in remediation mode at this time. shared cost between town and Dennison

Multi-million investment in the park

The town has not kept up with this building

Fire station #2 in saxonville is in urgent, urgent replacement.

9:17 p.m.

Keefe speaking TMM17 — ask Town Manager  compared to a private sale — how complicated is a sale when one is a government?

Halpin speaking — there is upfront work – once nailed down – straight forward bidding process

9:24 p.m.

Mike Cannon – TMM9 — I wish we were voting on keeping your golf course

Rising in opposition —

Here stories that point to land that was farm land, or pine trees and now developed

If we buy this land we are buying a huge question mark.

I know what we have today — I didn’t hear a developer – never had a developer say I want to be a part of your community

I never encountered a developer – if we buy this land  I dont know what the future is.

get involved in this community

Have to rise in opposition

9:28 p.m.

William LaBarge – TMM16 speaking — we have this issue if we were to go eacha nd every open space in this community, could we afford it?

What sacrifices would we have to make?

This property would make us too thin.

ASK CFO about the town’s financial shape if town purchases this property

***

CFO speaking – major impact is the impact on our massive schedule of capital infrastructure and maintenance needs

$49 million in 18 and FY19 faces the Town of needs

for 30 years we did nothing to support capital infrastructure so now we have this huge backlot of needs in this town.

What will it cost us (town) to main our assets?

Need to not make this decision in a vacuum – CFO

There is a choice here – we only have one $5.5 million – it either goes to the purchase of this property or it goes to half dozen other projects in this town.

***

LaBarge speaking – TMM16 – we just heard a  good reason on why we ought to vote no.

Need to trust the developer

***

TMM speaking to rise in support of the article – but did not give precinct or name – lives on Belknap

Are we going to continue to cut up Framingham for development?

We need to increase not decrease

Think about the young people who want to grow up in this town

Editor’s Note: Clapping from audience

9:35 p.m.

***

Janet Leombruno — FraminghamHousing authority, Framingham Charter Commisison – TMM5 – it is a real tough decision – gone back in forth – we did not have enough time – shoved down us – 10 days notice -rise to support this – have the town buy this – something down the road – need more time.

Lastly for the kids – not sure if it would be a golf course – need time.

9:40 p.m.

Druba Sen – TMM10 speaking — what is the median income for those who play golf?

Moderator says question not appropriate.

Rise to oppose this article.

***

Bill McCarthy – TMM10 – I am very much against this project

The CFO & the Town Manager — gave us a partial list of capital projects – and the biggest one left out was a new school

9:45 p.m.

McCarthy talking about a debt exclusion override for a new school and the Memorial Building – for 25 years.

There is no good way to buy this

To me this is aluxury – it would be nice to have – but I don’t think we can afford

We have to stay within our means – McCarthy

Vote it down

***

Point of information — Jeanne Bullock — wants to know how much free cash town has.

CFO speaking — FY15 certified free cash — $11.465

Town Meeting spent $6 million of it so only $4 million left in free cash

***

TMM Bob Cushing speaking — there are some great needs that have to be deferred if we purchase golf course

I am going to vote NOt in favor.

***

9:50 p.m.

Moderator — yelling Cushing telling him he has made his point

***

Move the question 9:53 p.m.

Not debatable

Hand vote – 2/3 rd vote needed

Question MOVED

***

NOW time for the vote – 9:55 p.m.

2/3 is needed to pass the purchase

Abstain votes do not count in the 2/3rd

Editor’s note: The electronic devices are not working

1 for yes and 2 for no

***

Trying to fix electronic – if not fixed – moderator will take a roll call vote.

test question — is your key pad working proposed

Moderator says she doesn’t need a test question

TRying voting again — ROLL CALL VOTE to be taken

***

10:02 p.m.

We are in precinct 7 now Town Clerk Valerie Mulvey is calling each name individual for a rollcall vote.

We are in precinct 12 and the no votes are leading at the moment

Waiting on the official vote, but my count there is not a 2/3rd vote to purchase the property.

10:11 p.m.

VOTE: 69-86

 

 

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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