10 Highlights From Oct. 11 Select Board Meeting: Eagle Scout Project At Wildwood Cemetery; RMLD Wants To Put Solar Panels On Landfill & Build New Substation Off Route 125

WILMINGTON, MA — The Wilmington Select Board met for more than 4 hours on Tuesday, October 11, 2022.

Below are 10 highlights from the meeting, presented in chronological order:

#1) The Select Board formally supported an Eagle Scout Project from Wilmington High School senior Noah Carriere, a Boy Scout with Troop 56. With support from the Veterans Department, Carriere intends on installing a battlefield cross inside the veterans lot at the Wildwood Cemetery. The Select Board praised Carriere’s commitment and service. Carriere estimates he’ll need to raise $5,000 for the project, and is planning a few fundraisers, including T-Shirts and a GoFundMe. Wilmington Apple will share information about these fundraisers when available.

#2) The Select Board recognized Wilmington’s Stanley Souza, a 90-year-old Korean War Navy veteran, who served from July 1951 to December 1953. Souza was a sonar seaman aboard the USS McGowan, and earned numerous awards for his service, including the National Defense Service Medal.

#3) The Select Board heard a brief report from the town’s Health & Recovery Coordinator Samantha Cavanaugh and Recovery Coach Darrell Mirrione, accompanied by 11-month-old  therapy dog Zena. (Follow Zena on Facebook HERE.) Cavanaugh noted that Mirrione has been a part of her team for 1.5 years and proved to be an “awesome addition.” Her team also includes a graduate level intern, for 16 hours a week, through a partnership with Boston College. Cavanaugh mentioned that 80-90 people attended the town’s recent Candlelight Vigil for Substance Abuse Awareness. She also praised partnerships with other town departments — including Elderly Services and Veterans Services — as well as the relationship formed with Mayflower Detox. Cavanaugh noted Wilmington is experiencing an increase in drug abuse and, in particular, alcohol abuse, as well as an uptick in general depression and anxiety, with her team serving an increasing number of residents in crisis. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, call Cavanaugh and Mirrione at 978-447-2296 or 978-447-4404. They can also be reached through the Police Department, Fire Department and Central Dispatch phone numbers. The Select Board praised Cavanaugh and her team for their efforts.

#4) The Select Board heard a lengthy presentation from RMLD Interim General Manager Greg Phipps. RMLD, Wilmington’s electricity supplier, is hoping to build a new substation in Wilmington to upgrade its distribution network; add “within territory generation; and add significant storage capability. It wishes to produce (1) reliable, (2) low-cost and (3) non-carbon energy. Phipps’s presentation touched upon three areas:

  • RMLD’s substation on Wildwood Street is near its end of life. RMLD intends on keeping the substation in use through 2026. RMLD is conducting more frequent inspections/tests; more frequent maintenance; and other actions to extend the building’s use for four more years.
  • RMLD intends on building a new substation in Wilmington. Last week, RMLD purchased property at 326 Ballardvale Street. RMLD is willing to build the substation on that property, but would prefer to purchase town-owned land on Route 125 and build there. On the Route 125 land, RMLD estimates it would save $1-$2 million in costs to connect to National Grid’s lines. RMLD recognized there are many roadblocks to the property, including being “Article 97” land, due to its proximity to Browns Crossing well fields water supply. There are lots of requirements to build on Article 97 land, including a 2/3 vote from the State Legislature.
  • RMLD is exploring installing solar panels on the Maple Meadow Landfill Superfund Site. Phipps hopes “to turn an unused land, with a negative history, an turn it into something positive.” RMLD is pursuing ownership of the land, which is not owned by the town, while trying to not assume any historic liabilities with the land. RMLD has already reached out to MassDEP and state legislators, which are signaling excitement.

Phipps will return to the Board at a future meeting to delve further into each issue. The Board was not asked to formally vote any of the measures yet.

(NOTE: The Select Board then heard a presentation, held a lengthy discussion, and fielded comments and questions from the public regarding the Senior Center building project and Town Hall/School Administration building project. The Wilmington Apple will have a standalone story on this portion of the meeting later this week.)

#5) Town Manager Jeff Hull provided a copy of the recent request of services for the Wildwood School Building project. Read the 100-page document HERE. The Massachusetts School Building Authority approved the document, with minor revisions. The project has been put out to bid. Bid announcements were placed in the state’s Central Register, the state’s Operational Services Division’s COMMBUYS online platform, the Wilmington Town Crier, and on the Town’s website. Sealed proposals must be submitted to the Town Manager’s Office by October 19, 2022 at 3pm. A subcommittee of the Wildwood School Building Committee would then review proposals, establish a short list of firms, and interview them, selecting a finalist to recommend for hire to the Town Manager.

#6) Town Manager Hull also provided a summary of the recent Wildwood School Building Committee’s discussion of an interim solution for the Wildwood School, which Wilmington Apple covered HERE. The Building Committee will be making a recommendation between the 7 options to the School Committee prior to its November 9 (or November 16) meeting. The School Committee will then determine which option to recommend as a capital improvement project for the Fiscal Year 2024 budget.

#7) Town Manager Hull provided a recap of the latest meeting he held with MBTA and Keolis officials regarding rail crossing safety issues in town on October 5. 7 rail crossing incidents were reported in August and September. In 3 instances, crossing gates were struck by vehicles. Of the other 4, in only 2 cases was repair work required. The MBTA reported it is still unable to release the report of the North Wilmington rail crossing fatality due to pending litigation. Wilmington was given a ‘heads up’ that the MBTA will be asking communities with commuter rail crossings to not treat the crossings with de-icing materials since salt and calcium chloride interferes with the proper functioning of the arms. Ultimately, that will decision will be made locally by each Public Works director. The next meeting between the town and the MBTA/Keolis is slated for January.

#8) Town Manager Hull announced that Seurat Technologies, located on Ballardvale Street, is seeking a tax increment financing (TIF) agreement with the town and potentially tax relief from the state. Under a TIF, the town would typically continue to collect 100% of existing real estate tax revenue, but allows for a tax exemption based on the increased assessed value due to property improvements. The tax incentive is a discount on projected future taxes during the life of the proposed TIF. The company, which builds 3D printing machines and fabricates finished parts for customers, moved to Wilmington in February 2017 and has outgrown its current facility. The company is seeking to expand from 80 employees to over 1,000 employees over the next several years. It looking to expand to a new headquarters with more than 125,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space. Seurat hopes to stay in Wilmington, but is considering sites in Woburn and Nashua as well.

#9) Town Manager Hull let the Board know that Finance Committee Jon Dugas is resigning effective December 1, 2022. If a resident is interested in serving on the Finance Committee, they can learn more and apply HERE. The new Committee member would be interviewed and appointed by the Town Moderator, Chair of the Select Board, and Chair of the Finance Committee.

#10) The Select Board signed the warrant for the Special Town Meeting on Saturday, November 19, 2022 at 9am at the High School:

  • Article 1: A report on both building projects
  • Article 2: Transfer $6 million from Capital Stabilization Fund, and borrow $11,246,561, for the construction of a Senior Center
  • Article 3: Transfer $12 million from Free Cash, and borrow $24,880,766, for the construction of a Town Hall/School Administration Building

Article 1 will be taken first. Articles 2 & 3 will be taken up in random order.

10 more highlights — including the lengthy discussions on the building projects — will be reported on later this week.

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