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Daily Buzz | Record-Setting Town Meeting Ends After Two Nights
DEI Training for town boards and High School Feasibility Study are funded
Last night was the second night of the May Town Meeting, and we picked up right where we left off, discussing the various capital requests on the warrant. There was significant debate about a few of the items, and members were thoughtful in their questions and the points they were making. Still, around 9:00, it started to become apparent that we might actually be able to fit in the remaining ten articles of the warrant before adjourning.
And the pigs might as well have taken flight from the parking lot, because we did just that. Check out the Warrant Summary to see everything that was voted on.
Everything that wasn’t withdrawn passed, but that doesn’t mean there was unanimous agreement about every article. Some, like sewage part replacement and renovation of the bathrooms at the Burlington Early Childhood Center, passed easily without discussion. Others sparked questions—like the sick time buyback, which many members weren’t familiar with—but ended up passing.
There were a few articles last night that engendered some debate and significant questions among the body:
7-24: Pine Glen instructional space transformation. A storage area is going to be converted into an instructional classroom so the students in the DSC program (for students with autism) will have sufficient space to work. Many questions about this project centered around the wisdom of spending $100k+ on a school that might not be around much longer, as MSBA (the state organization providing funding for the new Fox Hill building) is examining the possibility of combining Fox Hill and Pine Glen into one large school. The response from the district was that this space is needed now for students who are in the school and will be joining in August. Another question about useful life of the construction came up: The useful life was quoted at 15-20 years, but if the school won’t be there in 10 years, then how accurate is that number, really? In the end, the body voted to allocate the funds, and this work will be completed this summer in anticipation of the 2023-24 school year.
7-31: Francis Wyman field renovations. The main argument here was that the fields aren’t maintained well in the town. We spoke a little about this when Brendan Egan, Parks & Recreation Director, was on the podcast a short while ago. There is irrigation in that field, and it seems the Department is looking into moving away from organic weed control. The hope is that this rejuvenation and added structural design will be able to be maintained and provide a safer and more professional environment for play. But the the Recreation administration and at least one Commission member were there to hear the critiques, and we shall see how the maintenance goes once the work is done.
Article 23: DEI Training of elected and appointed staff. Judging by the overwhelming majority of people who voted in favor of this article, it was super popular. But many Town Meeting Members (full disclosure: I was one of them) chided the Select Board for not providing backup or thinking through a plan prior to asking the body for money. However, the point was made that once we’ve approved the funding the Select Board has an obligation to do the work and report back to us with the results. Expect to see this come up on a future Select Board meeting agenda.
Articles 29 and 30: High School Feasibility Study. Recall that this was to repurpose the $450k allocated last year to replace the music room floor, and use another $1,050,000, to perform a feasibility study on the high school. Should we renovate it where it is? Build a new one? Some combination of the two? Superintendent, Dr. Eric Conti, stated that he decided to go this route after the robust conversation that happened last year about the initial $450k allocation, which barely passed with a 57-51 roll call vote. Still, though, while some members appreciated the district’s responsiveness to Town Meeting’s concerns from last year, there was a lot of conversation about why the high school appears to be prioritized over Pine Glen, which according to one member is older and in a greater state of disrepair. Dr. Conti reminded the body that the Fox Hill work does actually include a partial feasibility study for Pine Glen, since the state is forcing us to consider both a 3-school and a 4-school model. In the end, this passed easily.
Of note, only 86 of our 126 Town Meeting Members were in attendance last night. That’s only 68%. I encourage you to take a look at the Town Meeting attendance when it comes out and reach out to those members from your precinct who have a poor attendance record.
In partnership with People Helping People
The People Helping People Burlington Food Pantry serves around 100 families each week. SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits were recently cut and many families are struggling with the rising cost of goods. As a result, enrollment in our local Food Pantry has increased significantly. Due to record Holiday food drives in November and December of 2022, we have an overabundance of canned goods. However, we are consistently low or out of a number of other foods and other necessities. That’s why we’re calling this food drive the “ABC” Food Drive. Anything But Cans! Please help us stock our shelves for the summer months!
Today in Burlington
Meetings and Events
9:00 AM - Housing Authority will hear reports of the tenant associations. (Tower Hill Apartments)
1:00 PM - Planning Board Subcommittee - The District will discuss the special permit application for The District commercial area. (25 Center Street)
4:00 PM - Butterfly Sponge Art at the library (Grades K-5, Register)
6:30 PM - Conservation Commission will, among other business, hold public hearings regarding a residential project at 78 Mountain Road and some commercial projects (New England Executive Park and Lahey). (Town Hall and virtual)
7:00 PM - Library Trustees (Burlington Public Library)
Sports and Activities
Our Unified Coed Basketball team brought home the W against Winchester yesterday with a score of 63-45.
Lady Devils Softball won 5-0 in Watertown on Tuesday, and yesterday girls’ lacrosse won both their JV (12-4) and Varsity (15-7) games.
Boys also won their lacrosse game by a score of 19-7 over Woburn, and both boys’ and girls’ tennis teams won their matches against Watertown with scores of 5-0 and 4-1, respectively.
Another full afternoon in Burlington sports:
Tennis vs. Melrose: Boys host at Rahanis at 4:00, and girls play in Melrose at 4:15.
Volleyball in Arlington: JV plays at 4:15 and Varsity at 5:30.
Baseball in Melrose: JV plays at 4:15 and Varsity at 7:00.
Softball against Melrose at 4:15; JV at Rotary Field and Varsity at Marvin Field
That’s all I have for you today. Have a great one and I’ll see you tomorrow—same Buzz time, same Buzz channel.