The following is Part One of an overview from the May 27, 2014 Board of Selectmen meeting. For Part Two, click here.
Video of the meeting will be available on the Westford CAT website.
7:30 p.m. – The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by members of Cub Scout Pack #102. Selectman Don Siriani was absent.
The board of Selectmen then received an update on a $100,000 grant awarded to the East Boston Camps and recognized awards won by a series of local Girl Scouts.
7:38 p.m. – Next during the Open Forum section of the meeting, the Selectmen honored Tim and Brian Curran for their Skate for a Cure fundraiser and extended congratulations to Genevieve Johnson for her upcoming graduation from Westford Academy this summer.
Johnson dropped out of Westford Academy in 1936 due to the Great Depression and received an exemption from the state.
“You stand as a shining example to all of us to never let go of our dreams,” said Board of Selectmen chairperson Andrea Peraner-Sweet.
Peraner-Sweet also praised Council on Aging outreach coordinator Annette Cerullo and several high school students who helped her return.
Cerullo mentioned she will be in the Boston Globe on May 28.
7:45 p.m. – The board then moved to approving a grant for the Stony Brook II Common Ground Development.
There were no questions; the grant agreement was unanimously approved.
7:47 p.m. – Highway Department superintendent Chip Barrett presented a request for a new drain line on the Healey Property at 22 Broadway Street.
The Selectmen had no issues.
7:50 p.m. – The board then moved to a follow up on the right of first refusal for the sale of Chapter 61B land on the Agnew Property (64 Main St.), a parcel near the Roudenbush Center.
Town Manager Jodi Ross gave details on what would be needed for a non-profit group to purchase the land, negating a pending purchase and sale agreement on the property that could potentially impact the area environmentally.
A request was made to wait the full 120 days (June 13) since the purchase and sale to allow a potential non-profit group of neighbors to raise the money ($700,000) to exercise the right of first refusal, with details provided on how a partial purchase could be made with help from the Conservation Commission, the Sudbury Valley Trustees and subsequent fundraising.
Selectman Scott Hazelton asked Jodi Ross what would be a reasonable time frame for the right of first refusal.
At this point, the discussion went to the appraisals of the two parts of the property and the amount needed for the purchase: approximately $200,000 from the Conservation Commission, $80,000 from Sudbury Valley and a home on the property would be sold for $380,000.
Hazelton said he was confused since he thought the entire property needed to be preserved as conservation, agriculture or forestry, but Jodi Ross said that only 70 percent was needed if it was for a non-profit, adding that the proposal was very complicated.
Selectman Jim Sullivan asked whether it was the Conservation Commission or the Conservation Trust, and it was determined that it was the Conservation Commission.
Jodi Ross asked the board if she could talk to counsel before additional action is taken.
Selectman Kelly Ross asked questions regarding to the fact that the house has not yet been purchased as well as the portioning off of the property.
There was more discussion regarding what needed to be done to purchase the house as well as time restraints.
Kelly Ross had more questions on the possibility of splitting up the property, citing the plan with Hill Orchard to sell off portions of the property that was not followed up on. He also asked regarding the timeline of the Trustee Valley Trustee grant.
It was revealed that it would take 2 ½ weeks, which would be near the deadline for right of first refusal.
The neighbors had talked to the Conservation Commission, but were not on their public agenda as of yet, although the matter was on the Conservation Commission’s executive session agenda on Wednesday.
Kelly Ross then asked the town would be held to a deal if the right of first refusal was exercised and the money didn’t come through. Jodi Ross said the deal would be nullified without appropriations, and there would be no penalty.
There was then discussion on whether a final decision should be delayed until the next Board of Selectmen meeting, which would be the last possible meeting to act before the deadline, as well as whether a possible Special Town Meeting may be needed.
Due to confusion over the issue, it was determined that the Board of Selectmen may need to have a one-item agenda delaying with the purchase next week.