Below is the “From The Manager’s Desk” column from the latest Town Topics Newsletter:
With the issuance of this edition of Town Topics we find ourselves in the heart of winter in New England. The severity of the cold and snow remains to be seen but as New Englanders we will persevere.
COVID-19 is surging once again and the Delta variant has taken center stage over the past several months. The Omicron variant appears to be the next variant to further test our collective health and well-being. Mask requirements remain in place when entering public buildings in Wilmington. If there is a silver lining in our collective efforts to respond to this pandemic it is access to vaccines. Protection against COVID is not 100% but vaccination and boosters mitigate the severity of illness for individuals subject to break through illness from COVID. Unvaccinated individual who contract COVID are much more likely to have severe health effects and be hospitalized. If you are not vaccinated, please, get vaccinated for yourself, your family and your friends.
The Board of Selectmen are expected to call a Special Town Meeting for March 8, 2022. The purpose of this meeting will be to seek an appropriation to complete a feasibility study to replace the Wildwood Early Childhood Center which was constructed in 1955. Several options will be investigated including replacement of the existing pre-kindergarten and kindergarten school with a standalone school or several consolidation options which would reduce the total number of schools and reduce transitions between schools during a student’s academic years in Wilmington Public Schools. The Town is one of 15 school districts invited by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to have an opportunity to participate in their financial assistance program. Special Town Meeting approval of the feasibility study will enable the Town to remain eligible for grant funding to defray the cost of constructing a new school. You are encouraged to go to https://www.wpsk12.com/our_district/facilities/ school_building_projects to learn about this effort. Specifics about the date, time and location will be announced.
While sites for the construction of a town/school administration building and a senior center have not yet been endorsed by the Board of Selectmen, the expectation is that the Board will be again considering recommendations submitted by the Town/School Administration Building Committee and the Senior Center Building Committee. As noted in the prior edition of Town Topics, the two building committees were slated to make site recommendations to the Board. The Board of Selectmen heard the recommendations and expressed reservations including concern that possible use of the athletic fields at the Glen Road site were not considered during deliberations. The Board directed the committees to re-exam the sites under consideration.
Once Selectmen have reached consensus on sites for both buildings, the architects will be able to conduct more extensive evaluations of the site characteristics, more fully develop the design of the two buildings and establish cost estimates for construction of each facility. If sites can be agreed upon in January, a Special Town Meeting would be recommended for the fall of 2022 to seek final design and construction funding for both building projects. For information about both projects, please visit the Town’s website at https:// www.wilmingtonma.gov/permanent-building-committee.
It is understandable that some are impatient with the pace of these projects, but progress is taking place. In addition to paid staff and consultants, the volunteers elected to serve on the Board of Selectmen and volunteers appointed to serve on the building committees are taking their roles on behalf of residents very seriously. In the words or Robert Kennedy, Jr. “Democracy is messy, and it’s hard. It’s never easy.” Residents will be asked to spend significant money on each of the projects. Given the significance of the cost and the long-term impact of these facilities to cite the English proverb “measure twice, cut once.”
Assistant Town Manager and Human Resources Director Kerry Colburn-Dion, Patrol Officer Paul Krzeminski, Deputy Treasurer/Collector Mary Kelley, Public Works Equipment Operator III Joseph Morgan, Garage Foreman Ken Roberts, Mechanic John Mulholland and Public Works Assistant Business Manager Lorraine Church will all be retiring over the next three months after dedicating their time and talents ensuring that Wilmington receives top notch and dependable services. Now it is time for each of them to pursue new adventures. May they have many years of good health to enjoy their time with family and friends.
Work is ongoing to develop the Town’s financial plan for the next fiscal year which begins on July 1, 2022. The budget will be presented at the Board of Selectmen meeting on January 24, 2022. Meetings with the Finance Committee will follow during the month of February and early March. A public hearing to preview the operating budget, zoning and non-zoning warrant articles will take place on March 15, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. Meetings are held at Town Hall and will be covered by WCTV. Residents are encouraged to “tune in” to these meetings to learn how your money is proposed to be spent.
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