Archive for October 2020

Board Of Selectmen Approve Warrant And Reduce Quorum To 200 For Outdoor Town Meeting On November 21st

The Selectmen have signed and issued the Warrant for Special Town Meeting that is scheduled for Saturday, November 21st and will be held on the multipurpose field at the high school. Extreme heat was a concern at Annual Town Meeting in June, but cooling stations will be replaced with warming huts at next month’s Meeting. Backup plans have been put into place so that the Town can stay on track with a vote to approve the purchase of a parcel of land at 335 Lincoln Street in the Shipyard which will be the site of a new Public Safety Facility and will house police headquarters and the North Street Fire Station.

The lot, which is assessed for $3.5M and was appraised for $4M in February prior to communities seeing an impact on commercial real estate due to COVID, has a negotiated price of $5.475M. “We are prepared to pay a premium for this property,” said Town Administrator Tom Mayo. The current owners purchased the property in 2016 for $1.545M which means they would see a return on their investment of almost 254% in just four years.

Concerns over being able to achieve a quorum for Annual Town Meeting were expressed in the spring. In response to those concerns, the Selectmen chose to take advantage of a provision in new rules resulting from the pandemic that allow municipalities to bypass certain components of the Open Meeting Law. Hingham could have reduced the quorum size from 300 to 30 as was permitted; however, the Town ultimately set it at 200. The Articles on the Warrant require a 2/3 approval vote which means that 134 voters, or just 0.5% of the population, could make the final decision.

During this week’s meeting, Chair Mary Power pointed out that Mayo had suggested the Town follow suit for Special Town Meeting. The recommendation was unanimously approved by all three selectmen but is subject to the approval of Town Moderator Michael Puzo who is in charge of the Meeting.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Mayo said about the reduction in the size of the quorum. “Better safe than sorry. You just never know in this situation. The town’s business is important.”

The business at hand is a parcel that the Selectmen have identified as an ideal location for a Public Safety Facility. At this point, the Articles on the Warrant simply pertain to the purchase of the land; however, the Selectmen are well within their right to reopen the Warrant and add other Articles, like zoning bylaw changes, to it.

Members of the Board of Selectmen:

Mary Power, Chair, powerm@hingham-ma.gov

Joe Fisher, fisherj@hingham-ma.gov

Bill Ramsey, ramseyw@hingham-ma.gov

Board Of Selectmen Approve Warrant And Reduce Quorum To 200 For Outdoor Town Meeting On November 21st

The Selectmen have signed and issued the Warrant for Special Town Meeting that is scheduled for Saturday, November 21st and will be held on the multipurpose field at the high school. Extreme heat was a concern at Annual Town Meeting in June, but cooling stations will be replaced with warming huts at next month’s Meeting. Backup plans have been put into place so that the Town can stay on track with a vote to approve the purchase of a parcel of land at 335 Lincoln Street in the Shipyard which will be the site of a new Public Safety Facility and will house police headquarters and the North Street Fire Station.

The lot, which is assessed for $3.5M and was appraised for $4M in February prior to communities seeing an impact on commercial real estate due to COVID, has a negotiated price of $5.475M. “We are prepared to pay a premium for this property,” said Town Administrator Tom Mayo. The current owners purchased the property in 2016 for $1.545M which means they would see a return on their investment of almost 254% in just four years.

Concerns over being able to achieve a quorum for Annual Town Meeting were expressed in the spring. In response to those concerns, the Selectmen chose to take advantage of a provision in new rules resulting from the pandemic that allow municipalities to bypass certain components of the Open Meeting Law. Hingham could have reduced the quorum size from 300 to 30 as was permitted; however, the Town ultimately set it at 200. The Articles on the Warrant require a 2/3 approval vote which means that 134 voters, or just 0.5% of the population, could make the final decision.

During this week’s meeting, Chair Mary Power pointed out that Mayo had suggested the Town follow suit for Special Town Meeting. The recommendation was unanimously approved by all three selectmen but is subject to the approval of Town Moderator Michael Puzo who is in charge of the Meeting.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Mayo said about the reduction in the size of the quorum. “Better safe than sorry. You just never know in this situation. The town’s business is important.”

The business at hand is a parcel that the Selectmen have identified as an ideal location for a Public Safety Facility. At this point, the Articles on the Warrant simply pertain to the purchase of the land; however, the Selectmen are well within their right to reopen the Warrant and add other Articles, like zoning bylaw changes, to it.

New Streetlight And Signage Coming To Dark Curve On Upper Gardner Street

A dark and dangerous curve on upper Gardner Street in South Hingham will be getting a new streetlight thanks to a citizen’s request. The bend in the road, which is located near the Mormon Church and is narrower than the rest of the street, is not well lit, and it has been the site of serious accidents in recent years.

One car that was traveling at a high rate of speed hit the stone wall in front of 371 Gardner Street and flipped over landing on its hood on the opposite side of the road. The driver was wearing a seatbelt. While shaken up, he walked away unscathed.

Another driver knocked down the telephone pole in front of 371 Gardner. She left behind debris from her car and dragged telephone wires for miles before being pulled over in Rockland.

During their meeting last night, the Traffic Committee voted to recommend to the Board of Selectmen that a streetlight be installed. “This was brought to us by a resident on the Rockland side,” said Officer Jeff Kilroy. “He’s brought up a valid concern about the lighting in the area of 371 Gardner Street.”

Officer Kilroy visited the location with Randy Sylvester of the Department of Public Works (DPW) and conferred with Hingham Municipal Light Plant (HMLP). “I spoke with Mike Menton and Paul Heanue from the HMLP,” said Kilroy, “and they agreed that a light could be installed at that location.”

There are already signs approaching the curve on either side; however, DPW plans to install more. “They would hope to get adequate signage,” said Kilroy. “There’s some question that maybe having some other Chevron or hashmark style signage would be included in that.”

Sylvester said the signs would go up at the end of next week.

Monday Morning Meeting Schedule – Week of May 18th

Curious to learn more about decisions that are being made in town?  Or topics that are being discussed?  Want the opportunity to ask questions or express your concerns?  Check out the list of this week’s meetings!  All of them can be accessed by phone.  We have highlighted certain items of interest, but complete agendas can be found under “More Details.”

  • Fourth of July Parade Committee
    Monday, May 18, 2020, 6:00 PM @ Join Zoom Meeting  Meeting ID: 843 1111 5879 Password: 333448
    More Details

  • Lincoln Apartments, Board of Mangers, LLC
    Monday, May 18, 2020, 6:30 PM @ Remote meeting via Zoom: Call: 929-205-6099 Meeting ID: 829 9704 2020 Website: https://zoom.us/join
    More Details

  • Conservation Commission
    Monday, May 18, 2020, 7:00 PM @ Remote meeting via Zoom, Website: https://zoom.us/join, Dial-in: 929-205-6099, Meeting ID: 817-1118-4859
    More Details

  • Planning Board
    Monday, May 18, 2020, 7:00 PM @ Remote Meeting via Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/join Call : 1-929-205-6099 Meeting ID: 869 9092 9074
    More Details

  • School Committee
    Monday, May 18, 2020, 7:00 PM @ Remote meeting via Zoom: Call: (929) 205-6099 Meeting ID: 816 4007 2335 Website: https://zoom.us/join
    More Details

To receive an update on the district’s Remote Learning Plan, Version 2.0

  • School Committee Policy Subcommittee
    Tuesday, May 19, 2020, 10:30 AM @ Remote Meeting via Zoom Call: (929) 205-6099 Meeting ID: 853 6384 2843 Website: https://zoom.us/join
    More Details

  • Board of Selectmen
    Tuesday, May 19, 2020, 7:00 PM @ Remote meeting via Zoom: Dial-in number: 929-205-6099 Meeting ID: 451-213-735 Website: https://zoom.us/join

    More Details

Town Warrant Planning Articles

Possible Votes
1. To sign the Warrant for the 2020 Annual Town Meeting.

  • Zoning Board of Appeals
    Tuesday, May 19, 2020, 7:00 PM @ Remote Meeting via Zoom: Dial-in number: 929-205-6099 or Website address: https://zoom.us/join Meeting ID: 870 2208 6847
    More Details

Discuss and finalize Vision and Goals

Officials urge residents to respond to potential cuts in MBTA train and ferry service to south shore towns

West Hingham commuter rail station [Hingham Current photo | Kristen Arute]

“The main event tonight is the next agenda item,” quipped Board of Selectmen Chair Mary Power at the start of last night’s meeting, “and that is the discussion of proposed MBTA Hingham, ferry and Greenbush rail service cuts.” Sen. Patrick O’Connor, Reps. Jamie Murphy and Joan Meschino, CEO of South Shore Chamber of Commerce Peter Forman and the town’s representative to the MBTA David Alschuler were all in attendance to discuss the issue.

“Those of you who have been tuning in have known that the Board is working on letter to send to state,” noted Power. “That’s something that Joe (Fisher) is working on very diligently.” The meeting was described as an opportunity to get input for Fisher’s letter which will be discussed and voted on at their meeting on Thursday.

“I think the public needs to know where do matters stand now,” said Fisher. “What’s going on? What’s the current proposal from the T? And what’s the T’s schedule for moving forward? What are the next steps. And the public and especially Hingham residents want to know how this going to affect the Town of Hingham. And then we all want to know what is the Board of Selectmen doing and what are we planning to do?”

Fisher outlined his agenda for addressing those questions:

  • “The first thing is a letter being sent to MassDOT, the MBTA and other government officials.”

  • “It’s important to hear what other towns are doing.”

  • “Residents want to know what they can do to save the ferry, what they can do to save Greenbush.”

  • “What resources are out there so people know where to turn to get additional information.”

The MBTA is required to begin their budget discussions now and is attempting to find ways to save money and bring in revenue in an effort to close a budget deficit of $500M, plan for the next budget cycle and predict future cycles. As people slowly head back to work, ridership has begun to resume; however, it is nowhere near where it was prior to the pandemic. Supply does not meet demand. Before COVID, the Greenbush line during peak hours was at 98-104% capacity. It is now at 10-12%.

The T is going through a series of ridership scenarios looking at critical transit lines and communities to see where there could be potential savings in this current fiscal year. The most significant way is to make cuts to service. “They are thinking of doing this in a policy-structured way,” noted Meschino. “I would argue that the policy rubric they’re looking at is too narrow.” She encouraged listeners to visit her website for more information and to sign up for her ferry newsletter.

“The proposed cuts are definitely real and are going to have to come from somewhere inside of the MBTA’s budget,” said O’Connor. “The decline in ridership has led to major reductions in the amount of fares that the MBTA are taking in. There will be a cliff that the MBTA will go off of, and there will be a deficit.”

In response to the threat, Meschino said that she has been working with communities to write letters, reach out to business partners and reach out to the environmental community “to address what the public health issues are, our carbon emission reduction goals, our social justice and our congestion and transit goals.”

Meschino, who is a ferry rider herself, went on to describe efforts made in Hull to save the ferry and noted that one of the criteria the MBTA is using to make their determination is “critical transit.”

“We are looking to counter the false narrative that it is luxury transit,” said Meschino, “and try to put a face on who the ridership is.”

The State invested $574M to get the Greenbush line up and running just 15 years ago. However, Greenbush and the ferry fall into what’s known as “the fourth quadrant,” which means they could see deep cuts or possible elimination altogether. “This is a real scenario,” said Meschino. “This isn’t bluster.” The MBTA will present the rubric they intend to use make recommendations to the Fiscal Management Control Board on November 9th.

“We need to preserve service,” said O’Connor. “It’s always going to be easier to scale back up from something that’s in existence right now rather than if they take Greenbush and the ferry offline. That may be a death blow to both of those modes of transportation. We absolutely cannot allow that to happen.”

New Streetlight And Signage Coming To Dark Curve On Upper Gardner Street

A dark and dangerous curve on upper Gardner Street in South Hingham will be getting a new streetlight thanks to a citizen’s request. The bend in the road, which is located near the Mormon Church and is narrower than the rest of the street, is not well lit, and it has been the site of serious accidents in recent years.

One car that was traveling at a high rate of speed hit the stone wall in front of 371 Gardner Street and flipped over landing on its hood on the opposite side of the road. The driver was wearing a seatbelt. While shaken up, he walked away unscathed.

Another driver knocked down the telephone pole in front of 371 Gardner. She left behind debris from her car and dragged telephone wires for miles before being pulled over in Rockland.

During their meeting last night, the Traffic Committee voted to recommend to the Board of Selectmen that a streetlight be installed. “This was brought to us by a resident on the Rockland side,” said Officer Jeff Kilroy. “He’s brought up a valid concern about the lighting in the area of 371 Gardner Street.”

Officer Kilroy visited the location with Randy Sylvester of the Department of Public Works (DPW) and conferred with Hingham Municipal Light Plant (HMLP). “I spoke with Mike Menton and Paul Heanue from the HMLP,” said Kilroy, “and they agreed that a light could be installed at that location.

There are already signs approaching the curve on either side; however, DPW plans to install more. “They would hope to get adequate signage,” said Kilroy. “There’s some question that maybe having some other Chevron or hashmark style signage would be included in that.”

Sylvester said the signs would go up at the end of next week.

Budget concerns delay Hingham school building maintenance program

Hingham Public School budget constraints are delaying several capital investment and maintenance projects.

John W. Ferris Director of Business and Support Services reviewed about two dozen projects planned for the High School, Middle School and four elementary schools with the Capital & Facilities Subcommittee of the Hingham School Committee yesterday. They were scheduled to be completed this year, but will now be postponed.

“A lot of the capital that we had planned for FY 20-21 has been put on hold because of all the COVID-19 spending that we are doing,” said Ferris. “What we want to do is get a picture of where we are (financially) in the spring.”

Delayed Hingham Public School projects include:

  • Repairs to the gym bleachers at the High School to address safety concerns

  • Replace fire sprinkler head at the High School

  • Replace windows and doors at the High School

  • Repair windows and remove asbestos at Plymouth River School

  • Energy efficiency projects throughout the school district

  • Purchase a dump truck for the school district

The pandemic has upended the state education budget, leaving school officials unsure how to plan for coming needs. Although cuts to school budgets have not yet been as severe as originally predicted, the evidence indicates that much more severe challenges lie ahead. Ferris told school committee members that some of the spending on re-opening the schools should be reimbursed by Plymouth County through the CARES Act. ​

In March, the federal government passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (Cares) Act, which provided over $2 trillion in economic relief, including $13.2 billion in direct funding for K-12 public education for the first semester of the academic year. Congress has been unable to yet agree on a new deal that includes help for school districts.

“In the spring we hope to address the critical projects such as the sprinkler head replacements at the high school,” said Ferris.

Subcommittee Chair Carlos DaSilva asked Ferris to reconcile which capital investment projects were completed so the committee could prepare the FY 2021-22 capital and facilities budget.

Greg can be reached at greg@hinghamcurrent.com

School officials take major step toward ‘long overdue’ new Foster Elementary School 

Hingham School Building Committee members voted at their meeting Wednesday on a $1.1 million feasibility study budget for a new Foster Elementary School. School officials will submit the study budget to the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s school building program, a state program that helps school districts pay for renovations and rebuilding projects. It’s an important step towards a major rebuilding of the elementary school, which hasn’t seen an extensive renovation in almost fifty years.

John W. Ferris. Director of Business and Support Services hopes the project will be on the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s December meeting agenda for a vote.

Greg can be reached at greg@hinghamcurrent.com

Hingham, Duxbury end in a 1-1 tie in boys soccer

Hingham and Duxbury played to a 1-1 tie Wednesday afternoon at Hingham High School.

Both teams went scoreless in the opening half. Hingham and Duxbury both earned decent looks at goals, but the score was 0-0 at the end of the first half.

Hingham came out in the second half and played much more aggressive offensively. Around the 43 minute mark of the match, Aidan Brazel put Hingham ahead 1-0. The sophomore found the net and put the ball past the Duxbury’s keeper Thomas Donnelly to put them ahead 1-0.

Shortly after Brazel’s goal for Hingham, Duxbury got a goal of their own when Nolan Kirk-Elliot snuck it past Hingham’s keeper Jack Price to tie the match at one in the 47th minute.

It was great goalie play the rest of the way from Wyant and Reigh. Neither keeper allowed any shots to go past after each surrendered one in the second period.