10 Highlights From The Sept. 26 Select Board Meeting: Wilmington’s New Tag Line To Attract Businesses To Town Is….

WILMINGTON, MA — The Wilmington Select Board met this past Monday, September 26, 2022 at 7pm in Room 9 of Town Hall.

All board members were present. Assistant Town Manager Susan Inman filled in for Town Manager Jeff Hull, who was on a rare vacation.

“It Starts Here”

The Select Board heard a presentation from Thomas Stirling, of Stirling Brandworks, who was contracted by the Wilmington Economic Development Committee — through a state grant — to develop a marketing campaign to attract new businesses to town. Specifically, Stirling was looking for the Board’s approval of a town tagline — the first piece of the campaign.

Earlier this month, Stirling presented two options to the Board — “Wilmington On Tap” and “Opportunity Awaits” — neither of which received a majority of support. Several members, including Gary DePalma and Lil Maselli, panned “Wilmington On Tap” as in poor taste or conjuring up visions of alcohol and beer. Other members, like Kevin Caira and Greg Bendel, preferred “Opportunity Awaits,” but suggested Stirling conduct community surveys so residents can weigh in before a decision is reached. Town Manager Jeff Hull supported “Wilmington On Tap,” while Chairwoman O’Connell noted that while the unconventional tag line had some merit and was growing on her, she’d be more apt to play it safe with the more conservative “Opportunity Awaits.” Stirling agreed to return to the Board with refined options at its September 26 meeting.

In his second appearance, Stirling offered the Board with three new options — (1) “Opportunity. Innovation. Community.” ; (2) “It Starts Here.” ; and (3) “Innovation Awaits.”

Economic Development Committee Chair Mike Champoux, and several of his committee members, spoke up in support of “It Starts Here.”

Select Board members Gary DePalma and Lil Maselli preferred “It Starts Here.”

Select Board members Greg Bendel and Kevin Caira preferred “Opportunity. Innovation. Community,” and later signaled support for combing the two options — “It Starts Here” with “Opportunity. Innovation. Community.”

“I really like the word ‘community,” added Bendel. “Everything we offer here could probably be put under one of those three categories.”

In response to a question from Caira, Stirling seemed to indicate none of the three tag lines were actively being used by communities in Massachusetts or in surrounding states.

Select Chair Judy O’Connell liked “It Starts Here” with the three words from the first option — “Opportunity, Innovation, and Community,” along with the word “Tradition” — replacing the word “It.” She’d like all four words to be seen in the tag line on a rolling or rotating basis, which Stirling said is doable through the use of video, social media and QR codes. O’Connell added she liked the narratives that accompanied the first option, but preferred the second option overall.

Select Board members Greg Bendel and Kevin Caira expressed concern with the speed at which the decision was being made.

Caira noted that the Economic Development Committee did not even get a chance to review the new options, and the Select Board did not receive the new options in their meeting packet on Friday, as is customary. Caira also wished to see more of the campaign, beyond the tagline, and to visualize what a combination of Options #1 and #2 would look like.

Champoux responded that Stirling has until the end of November to complete the entire campaign, and so time and funding is finite due to the state grant requirements. Champoux added it wasn’t feasible for his Committee to meet within a short timeframe, and that the options were intentionally revealed tonight in a presentation, rather than on paper days in advance. Stirling added that his team can’t start working on the rest of “the creative” until the tagline is finalized.

Bendel wished to have an opportunity to hear feedback from residents before casting a vote.

“These are far better choices than we were presented with last time,” said Bendel. “I appreciate the work. My hang up is whether we should be voting tonight, or not.”

“The Economic Development Committee went through a bidding process. We were selected. We built a roadmap and set of deliverables that were designed for a certain process,” responded Stirling. “We’ve now come back twice. With all respect, if we come back another time, we probably will lose dollars and resources for activities that come down the line.”

“We’re trying to get the biggest bang for our buck out of the state’s grant money,” added Champoux. “I don’t want to come knocking on your door in a couple of months, asking for another hunk of money because we took too long and didn’t get a campaign. I don’t only want to get a tagline… If we go and do surveys and create hypothetical campaigns, we will run out of time. We will run out of money. And it will all have been for naught.”

Ultimately, the Select Board voted 3-2 to endorse “It Starts Here,” with Maselli, DePalma, and O’Connell voting in favor, and Bendel and Caira voting in opposition.

The Rest Of The Meeting

The Select Board unanimously approved the request to change the manager of the All-Alcohol License at Tremezzo from Mario Lucchesi to owner Richard Lowe.

In response to concerns raised at the Select Board meeting on September 12, Assistant Town Manager Inman read a memo from Town Manager Jeff Hull, indicating that the debris piles at 175 Lowell Street, 205 Lowell Street and 207 Lowell Street are — according to the project’s representatives — comprised of natural soils, covered by plastic for dust control, and surrounded by silt sacks for erosion runoff. “There is no indication that the site materials are contaminated or being handled inappropriately,” Hull wrote. Selectman Kevin Caira responded that his concern are not with the soil piles, but with the piles of debris from the remnants of the bull-dozed buildings, which were not covered and may have contained asbestos. Inman responded that the memo did not address those piles, and she will seek further information.

Assistant Town Manager Inman briefly recapped the most recent Wildwood Building Committee meeting, held on Tuesday, September 20, 2022. Committee members are currently considering nine options on how best to accommodate students and staff customarily assigned to the Wildwood Early Childhood Center, but currently spread out across three schools. Cost estimates for each option will be presented at the Committee’s next meeting on Monday, October 3, 2022. The committee wishes to incorporate the cost of the preferred option into the Fiscal Year 2024 budget, which would cover the 2023-2024 school year. Learn more about the options under consideration HERE.

Assistant Town Manager Inman announced that the Town will submit a Request for Services for an OPM regarding the Wildwood School Project to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) by the September 27 deadline. “The first major step in the feasibility and schematic design phase of the [MSBA] financial assistance program is the hiring of an Owners Project Manager (OPM),” Inman told the Board. “The Request for Services (RFS) provides background on the project and describes the scope of work to be completed by the OPM.” With assistance of a subcommittee that will interview at least 3 candidates, Town Manager Hull intends on selecting an OPM and submitting their name for approval to the MSBA at its December 5, 2022 meeting.

Assistant Town Manager Inman announced the Wilmington Conservation Commission is organizing a Town Clean-Up Day on Saturday, October 15, 2022. Residents are asked to volunteer for a couple of hours to remove litter and debris in Wilmington’s parks and conservation lands by removing litter and debris. For more information, contact the Department of Planning & Conservation at 978-658-8238, email the Conservation Agent, Cameron Lynch at clynch@wilmingtonma.gov, or visit HERE.

Assistant Town Manager Inman announced the Reading Municipal Light Department is inviting Wilmington residents to an Open House on Thursday, October 6, 2022, from 3pm to 6pm, at the RMLD Garage (218 Ash Street). This fun and educational event will feature a touch-a-truck event, face painting, balloon art, a caricaturist, kid’s games and prizes, pumpkin decorating, a lineman dress-up activity, and an electric vehicle showcase. RMLD staff will offer education on electricity, electrical safety, energy conservation, and information about rebate and efficiency programs. Learn more HERE.

Assistant Town Manager Inman summarized the latest Community Update issued from the Environmental Protection Agency about the Olin Chemical Superfund Site. EPA and MassDEP continue negotiations with the Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) for the site, with the goal of reaching an agreement (a Consent Decree) to conduct or finance the cleanup actions selected in EPA’s March 2021 Record of Decision. Read the full update HERE.

The Select Board unanimously supported the request of the Town Clerk to establish Early Voting hours for the State Election, from Saturday, October 22, 2022 through Friday, November 4, 2022, in the Town Hall Auditorium. The Town will announce publicize the times shortly. October 29, 2022 (until 5pm) is the last day to register to vote for the State Election.

The Select Board unanimously voted to sign a Purchase & Sale Agreement, and deed, regarding the sale of town-owned land on Lake Street (Map 55, Parcel 228A). Residents previously approved the sale of town-owned land at the 2021 Annual Town Meeting.

The Select Board unanimously approved a request of the WHS Girls Basketball program to use the Municipal Parking Lot to conduct a Car Wash fundraiser on Sunday, October 30, 2022, from 10am to 1pm.

The Select Board also heard a presentation from Wilmington Veterans Services Director Lou Cimaglia and Veterans Agent Michael Frotten about the Promises to Address Comprehensive Toxins (PACT) Act and the various assistance programs their office can help veterans apply for. Wilmington Apple will have a standalone story on this presentation soon.

There were no public comments, board announcements or new business.

Under Important Dates, Inman noted the Town Hall/School Administration Building Committee meets on Wednesday, September 28, 2022 at 6pm at Town Hall; an ALICE Program Community Event takes place on Thursday, September 29, 2022 at 6pm via WCTV and ZOOM; and the next Wilmington Farmers Market is open on Sunday, October 2, 2022, from 10am to 1pm, on the Swain Green.

The next Select Board Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 11, 2022 at 7pm in Room 9 of Town Hall.

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