TEWKSBURY — The Tewksbury Select Board met throughout 2021 as the town continued to navigate the coronavirus pandemic through the vaccine rollout, delta variant, and omicron variant. Here are some of the most notable moments of the past year.
In January, the board reviewed the annual budget presentation from Town Manager Richard Montuori. Montuori said the proposed budget was “very solid” and noted that the town falls midrange for single family taxes compared to surrounding communities.
Montuori said that the town received $2.7 million in CARES Act funding, as well as an additional $1 million for schools. The town also received additional grants for the health department.
In February, the board observed a moment of silence for senior town counsel, attorney Charles Zaroulis, who died on Jan. 31 of complications from COVID-19. A long-time resident of Lowell and Tewksbury, Zaroulis served as town counsel from 1968 to 2021.
Amid calls from the business community for relief due to impacts of the pandemic, the board voted to waive fees to 50 percent for club licenses, all alcohol licenses, and wine and malt liquor licenses.
The board discussed the new Tewksbury Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee, which was first proposed in August by member Jayne Wellman. The committee, consisting of nine appointed residents and three ex-officio town staff, will educate, advocate, and celebrate the growing diversity of the town.
The board conducted an annual review for Montuori. Members focused on his management skills and handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“When you really need a leader, he stands up,” said member Mark Kratman.
Montuori updated the board on vaccinations in the community; a messy vaccine rollout at the state level created challenges for the town and residents.
In March, the board voted to delegate authority to the town manager to approve extensions of permits for outdoor dining to local restaurants. With the governor’s recent capacity changes, Montuori emphasized the need for a speedy approval process.
The board also heard updates about the new elementary school and center fire station projects, as well as the new Soldier On veterans home.
The board met in April to approve an alteration of premises liquor license application for the Tewksbury Country Club as owner Marc Ginsburg sought to remove a portion of license coverage on the restaurant, adjoining patios, and pro shop, with the retained portion of the license covering the clubhouse and adjacent patios.
The board reviewed a request from the Armenian National Committee of the Merrimack Valley to recognize April 24 as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.
May brought newly elected members Todd Johnson and James Mackey to the board.
The board voted to accept the town’s Verizon cable television license renewal agreement and reviewed a package of entertainment license applications for Wamesit Lanes; many abutters raised concerns over alleged violations of licenses and high noise levels.
The board heard a presentation about the town’s Pedestrian Mobility Master Plan. Members also discussed options for remote or hybrid participation for members of the public in the future.
In June, the board discussed the use of 2021 American Rescue Plan Act funds, signed into law in March by President Joe Biden; Tewksbury received a $3,263,356 municipal allocation and a $6,055,961 county reallocation, with a total allocation of $9,319,317. The board voted to approve use of the funds for water line replacement and other capital improvement projects in town.
The board met in July to approve a $350,000 funding request for the Soldier On veterans housing project at 1660 Main St. from the town’s affordable housing trust fund.
The board also reviewed a presentation from the Hanover Company about its new development at 300 Ames Pond Drive. The meeting was not a public hearing but residents of the Cardigan Road neighborhood and abutters of the Ames Pond property spoke during the resident portion of the meeting in opposition to the project.
In August, the board held a 40B process presentation to discuss the proposal by the Hanover Company at Ames Pond with the town’s contracted land use attorney and 40B expert Mark Bobrowski. The board voted to authorize the town to enter into an agreement to retain Bobrowski’s services.
Montuori announced the cessation of virtual meeting options for the public due to low participation and labor intensity for telemedia staff; virtual options were left open for committee members but not for the community.
The board discussed three warrant articles proposed for special Town Meeting to change the name “Board of Selectmen” to “Select Board,” a move that follows many Massachusetts communities.
In September, the board appointed new building commissioner Mark Bertonassi to the zoning bylaw committee. Bertonassi joined the town in June following the retirement of longtime building commissioner Ed Johnson.
Montuori reported to the board that 2020 Census data had been partially released. The town’s population increased by approximately 2,300 people (8.2 percent). The number of housing units increased by 6.8 percent from 2010.
The board also made several appointments to town committees, and celebrated the 75th anniversary of Tewksbury’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8164.
In October, the board approved changed hours, a common liquor license, entertainment license, and transfer of liquor license for the new restaurant Mike’s on Main, taking over the space currently occupied by Deli King.
The board reviewed a letter to be sent to MassHousing regarding the 40B application submitted by the Hanover Company.
In November, the board met with members of the North Street and Trahan School Reuse Committee to discuss recent developments. The board also discussed tree removal on South Street.
The board accepted donations from the community in support of the new comfort dog program, and appointed TMHS students Maisan Nguyen and Lyndsey Pettengill to the Tewksbury DEI Advisory Committee.
The board reviewed an additional funding request from Soldier On to support veterans housing in the amount of $500,000, totaling to $800,000. Soldier On struggled to receive more funding from the state; board members encouraged the nonprofit to go back to the state and deferred making a funding decision.
The board voted 4-1 to set a 1.59 shift and a 0.8870 minimum residential factor at the annual tax-rate hearing.
December ended with a discussion about snow plow contractor shortages with DPW director Brian Gilbert.
The board also conducted its annual evaluation of the town manager. Members praised Montuori for his skilled leadership and the resilience of his team during the pandemic. Montuori, who became Tewksbury’s town manager in 2010, cited the mentorship of late town counsel Charles Zaroulis as foundational to his success.
He thanked his “outstanding department heads and staff” and emphasized how hard they work for the community.
The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2022. Residents may find the meeting agenda on the town website. The meeting may be viewed on Comcast channel 99 and Verizon channel 33.