WILMINGTON — Looking back at the year 2020 in full, the Board of Selectmen dealt with a number of town issues on behalf of Wilmington’s residents regarding properties, policies, COVID-19 changes, and more.
In January, the board discussed articles for the Town Meeting warrant for feasibility studies and schematic designs for both a new senior center and a new town hall/school administration building. Then Selectman Michael McCoy proposed a competing article for a new senior center that would allocate for the entire budget upfront.
While many residents at that time said in public comment that they would prefer to get the budget passed upfront, Town Meeting approved the feasibility study and schematic design article for the senior center. The similar proposal for the new town hall/school administration building was also passed.
January also saw the first proposal for Princeton Properties on Jefferson Road. The complex would add 108 affordable homes in town and require moving the sewer forward with a MassWorks Infrastructure grant. The board approved this to next steps and received an update in May that the agreement specified local preference.
Other properties that the board considered throughout the year were 887 Woburn St., parcel 6A on Route 125, parcels 5 and 5A at 141 Andover St., and parcel 13A at Cross St. and Main St. The Woburn Street property was considered because of an environmental notification form for a proposed construction and demolition materials transfer site.
Parcels 5, 5A, and 6A were discussed only in closed meetings with little information shared. The board took no action on the aforementioned properties and accepted the donation of parcel 13A for $1.
They were informed of traffic and streetlight changes on Brattle Street, Route 38 at Clark Street, and the Route 38 and Wilmington Crossing.
The board received significant grants and updates in February and March. The second of two $50,000 donations came in from the Sons of Italy to support the building and structural updates of Yentile Farm Recreational Facility.
Town Manager Jeff Hull also shared upgrades to the Buzzell Senior Center via town appropriation and grants. In March, they recognized new firefighters hired thanks to the Wilmington Fire Department receiving a SAFER grant.
Many of the items that came before the board this year were in response to the coronavirus outbreak. They first met on March 20 to declare a state of emergency in town. It was also in March that the board voted to postpone the annual town election and Town Meeting. These were later moved to June 20 and June 27, respectively.
The town voted in Selectman Jomarie O’Mahony for re-election on June 20 and Selectman Gary DePalma to the other open seat for his first term. Former Selectman McCoy did not seek re-election, although later in the year he did request that the board allow him to continue serving on the committees for which he represented the board.
He wrote in a statement in September, “I stated that I wanted to remain serving on these boards… there was no objection from any board members serving with me.”
The boards he served on were the Inhabitant By-Law Committee, the Ice Rink and Recreational Facility Committee, and the MBTA Advisory Board.
McCoy’s request led the board to reconfigure their various committee designees. O’Mahony was voted to serve on the MBTA Advisory Board as their sole designee. DePalma was assigned as the designee on the Inhabitant By-Law Committee and named McCoy as his resident designee.
Considering town indoor spaces being closed to the public per state guidelines, the board started approving the use of town outdoor spaces like the 4th of July parking lot, the Swain Green, and Rotary Park on June 22. The board also moved the Nov. 3 elections to the Shriner’s Auditorium due to capacity restrictions. Another update they introduced was a remote participation policy for all town boards, commissions, and committees.
In July, the board received two new police officers and voted in Jonathan Eaton to Chairman, replacing Greg Bendel.
“You couldn’t have picked a better person for the job,” Selectman Kevin Caira said.
They met Aug. 5 in strong opposition to the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s statement regarding House bill 4860 and Senate bill 2800.
A number of complications came up this year for the board regarding the Olin Superfund Site starting in August. After the Environmental Protection Agency released their proposed plan for cleanup on Aug. 10, the town’s environmental consultant GeoInsight gave an overview to the board at their next meeting. The board agreed that the proposal was less than what they’d like to see regarding MDMA levels and the area of extraction.
Hull mentioned they collected questions and comments on the plan for the EPA’s informational meeting on Aug. 25.
Several EPA representatives commented on the access of lease and agreements for groundwater monitoring at the Olin site in October, which Hull explained would help fill in the data gaps to further delineate the contamination issue. They also warned the town of an aerial survey via helicopter for data gathering in the area.
The last were two communications to the EPA from Olin and from GeoInsight regarding a breach of the temporary containment cap over the contamination area in December. Hull said that they suggested a more durable liner for the containment cap than the EPA proposed.
The board most recently voted on 2021 tax rates and welcomed a new Recovery Coach to the Wilmington Police Department.