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Select Board Approves Climate Change Program Report

by Matt Ristaino
July 9, 2019

The Select Board reviewed and approved the final report of the first phase of the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program at its meeting Monday evening. The MVP program is a state-wide grant program focused on helping communities address issues related to climate change.

Over the past several weeks, Holliston completed the first phase of the program. Once the report from that phase is submitted to and approved by the State, Holliston will be MVP certified, and eligible for grants from the State for climate change related projects.

Kim Lundgren of Kim Lundgren Associates, a climate action and sustainability firm that has worked with the town during the program, presented the report to the Board.

“This has been the most fun we’ve had with the MVP program,” said Lundgren of working with the Town. “Everyone was very engaged … and it resulted in a very good final product.”

Kim Lundgren speaks with the Board.

Lundgren said that the Town should be MVP certified within the next few weeks, and that it could be eligible for the next round of state funding, which could be announced as soon as next month.

There are already some plans for what to do with that funding. The Town wants to hire a consultant to put together a town-wide climate action plan, and to then hire a sustainability coordinator to carry out that plan.

Joan Levinsohn of the local chapter of 350.org, a national climate action organization, asked how quickly the Town could hire a sustainability coordinator, emphasizing the time-sensitive nature of the climate change issue. John Cronin responded that he hopes to fill the position by June 2020 at the latest.

The Board also discussed the possibility of introducing remote participation for board and committee meetings. If approved, the policy would allow board or committee members to participate in meetings via phone or video chat if they are out of town.

Cronin said that there has been interest for the policy from other committees, and suggested a one-year pilot program to test the policy out. The Board asked Town Clerk Elizabeth Turner Greendale to reach out to other towns and see if they have similar policies in place.

In his report, Town Administrator Jeff Ritter asked the Board members if they wanted to invite McMahon Associates to a future meeting to discuss changes to the downtown traffic lights. The Board said yes, and will invite them to a meeting sometime next month.

Ritter also announced that the Town recently received two grants. The first is for $40,000 to replace seven school zone safety lights around town. The second is for $92,000 to reimburse the Blair Square Committee for their work on the rail trail and surrounding area by Casey’s.

Finally, Ritter thanked members of his office for handling residents’ calls about the new trash program, and suggested that the Board invite the public to give feedback about the program at a future meeting. The Board agreed that would be a good idea, and suggested that it be put on the agenda sometime in September.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Tina Hein relayed suggestions for improving the downtown traffic lights that were sent to her by a resident. John Cronin said that he has been working with the Finance Committee to establish a facilities manager position in time for fall Town Meeting. Mark Ahronian thanked the Lions Club for putting on the carnival and fireworks display at the end of last month.

In other business, the Board made several annual appointments for Town positions and committees, accepted a gift of $714 to Youth and Family services from the Re-Act Players, approved a block party permit for July 13th for Pleasant and Mechanic Streets, and approved a cable license legal contract for Epstein & August, LLP.

 

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