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Water Commissioners Meet Feb 6, 2013

by Paul Saulnier
February 7, 2013

Discussions with developers of a Sherborn Chaper 40 subdivision seeking water from Holliston and with the Selectmen about creating a DPW Director's position...

Rising Tide, an affordable housing development of 185 bedrooms on Whitney Street in Sherborn is close to the Holliston wells 6 and 7. Although the project is approved for the use of on-site wells, Bob Gargano explained that neighbors are concerned that so many wells might cause their wells to go dry. So developers are asking for about 20,000 gpd (gallons per day) from Holliston's 1,200,000 gpd allowable use. That number is scheduled to increase by 250,000 gpd when well 7 comes on line this summer.

Commission Chairman Jerry Adams likes the idea of additional revenue but is mindful of future demands for water from within Holliston. He agreed to check on projects in the planning process before making a decision.

Developer Josh Posner suggested that since his project is supported by the state because it includes affordable housing, perhaps DEP would be willing to add the 20,000 gpd to Holliston's withdrawl permit so that Holliston would not be affected by the sale of water. (Although Sherborn does not currently have a withdrawl permit because it does not have a municipal water system, maybe DEP could issue a withdrawl permit with this 20,000 gpd as the first allocation. PS).

Selectmen met with the BWC to discuss the possibility of establishing a Director of Public Works position. Selectmen see this position as the first step toward a Department of Public Works, which would include highway, water and parks & recreation departments.

Selectmen feel that this is an opportune time to persue the idea since Water Superintendant Ron Sharpin, above, has announced his intention to retire this summer after the major projects he has sheparded over the years are competed. Selectman Marsden asked to meet with commissioners because they are currently in the process of recruiting a replacement for Ron but Selectmen would like the position to remain unfilled until after Town Meeting in May, 2013, to see if the town would support the idea.

Commissioner Jeff Weise stated that he was opposed to the concept if it meant that the Water Department would give up the superintendent's position. "We absolutely need a full time superintendent," Weise said.

In response to the Selectmens' request to suspend the search for Ron's replacement, Adams said that the board's subcommittee will continue evaluating candidates. Adams indicated that if the perfect candidate surfaced, then the board would hire the person rather than risk loosing him/her.

Commissioner Weiss submitted this statement to HollistonReporter.com on February 7, 2013:

"The BWC (me included) is not against the DPW concept in general.  We would like to see (and have now requested) the Selectmen's formal job description of the DPW Director.   2) We estimate the cost of creating a DPW structure will be in the range of $110,000 for the Director's salary, plus fringe benefits (30%?), clerical support, an office (somewhere in town), a car . . .  We do not see much day to day value in this for the Water Department and are very reluctant to commit to indirect administrative expense.  We definitely do not want to trade a DPW Director for all or part of a Water Superintendent."

It is apparent that the Selectmen and the Water Commissioners have to talk about their differences for the good of the town to see if there is a way to get to Town Meeting with a unified plan.

 

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Comments (2)

I agree with Commissioner Weiss, that we absolutely need a Water Superintendent. Our water is the Town's most precious commodity and it should never come under the direction of a DPW. Chairman Jared Adams' wise advice should be heeded, we may get additional revenue by selling our precious water to Sherborn, but we need to be mindful of future demands for water from within Holliston. Why doesn't Developer Posner cut back on his huge building project?

- Citizen | 2/9/13 8:20 PM

Thanks to the Water Commissioners, and Ron Sharpin, Water Superintent for their efforts to maintain a good water supply and a Water Superintendent. They are certainly more knowledgeable about the needs of the Department than the Administrator or the Selectmen. We need a full time Water Superintent to oversee our fragile water supply. When will the Selectmen answer: How do the Selectmen see the DPW as a benefit to the Town? (question asked 080812 never answered) The DPW committed found years ago that a DPW would be more expensive to the Town. The Big Question is How will the Selectmen benefit from a DPW? Control over a Department over which they are not knowledgeable and Water Department Funds. Or is it that the Parks and Recreation Department needs a DPW Director to oversee this Department? Let us think of our water supply as more important than the Administrator's and Selectmen's political reach.

- Liz Theiler | 2/8/13 12:50 PM

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