Select Board approves fee increase, debates over Senior Center

June 19, 2019 | Sarah Heinonen

WILBRAHAM – The Select Board approved an increase in the sticker fee for the Disposal and Recycling Center as presented at the June 17 meeting by Tonya Bash of the Department of Public Works. The new annual fees are $120 for a standard sticker and $100 for a sticker for those residents 65 years of age and up. There is also a large item fee increase to $25. The new prices take effect on July 1.

The new owners of a waste and construction recycling transfer station at 120 Old Boston Road asked the Select Board for any questions they may have in regards to a request to expand the amount of waste they are allowed to process. The Select Board had previously had the opportunity to tour the facility.

 While Select Board Chair Susan Bunnell said that she was impressed by the lack of smell from the business, Selectman Robert Russell said the residents of that neighborhood “are the ones who’ll have to live with increased traffic,“ from the facility. The owners said that the immediate abutters have been notified, though Smith proposed expanding the radius of notified residents. Russell later said that the owners were expecting an increase in waste due to the Chicopee Sanitary Landfill closing at the end of June.

Resident Don Flannery spoke to the Board during the open forum portion of the meeting to request, “in the interest of taxpayers,” a cost comparison of building a new facility for the senior center or locating it in a portion of Memorial School. Flannery brought up the same issue at the town meeting on May 13.      

Russell explained that there was a Senior Center Advisory Committee that was looking at all options and that the Select Board would follow their judgement.

“There is no predisposition on the part of this board,” Russell told Flannery. Flannery then criticized the committee, saying that “they didn’t consider anything but a new building.” Russell informed him that the committee looked numerous sites, including existing buildings.

Bunnell the committee was being guided by a data-driven report from a consultant, which Flannery dismissed. When discussing a survey of the buildings, he pushed for the town to use Roy Brown, who had done a survey of the buildings about a decade ago. Flannery even went so far as to ask the town to contact Brown directly, rather than follow the procedure for a request for proposals.

Dr. Diane Testa and Roberta Albano of the Historical Commission asked permission from the Board to pursue a project that would post signs in three locations in town announcing, “Welcome to the Wilbraham Historic Town Center.” The proposed signs would be placed near FloDesign at 380 Main St., the Wilbraham Children’s Museum at 678 Main St., and the Town Hall at 240 Springfield St.

Testa said that she has received a quote from Agnoli Sign Co. in Springfield of $7,000 to $8,000 for each sign.

Funding for the signs would have to be voted on at the next town meeting in May 2020. Testa said they would also be pursuing funding from the Community Preservation Committee.

Testa and Albano also inquired into a demolition delay by-law for historic homes and buildings in the interest of saving anything of historic value from destruction.

Jeff Smith of the Planning Board weighed in when asked and said that there is a built-in delay due to the time it takes for an asbestos inspection and other regulatory issues around old buildings. He suggested that it would be easier to notify the town when an old building was slated to be demolished than to pass a by-law, which requires a two-thirds majority vote at a town meeting.

The Board also approved a reserve fund transfer for Animal Control, in part, to pay for the veterinary care of a horse that had been found with no known owner.

“Do we own a horse?” Russell asked about the current status of the animal. Town Administrator Nick Breault explained that the horse had eventually been rehomed.

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