WILMINGTON — The Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday night covered information regarding voting on Nov. 3, the Olin Superfund site remediation plan, and a teen civic actions initiative before they received communications and voted on proposed use of spaces and remote participation.
They began with a closed executive session regarding parcel 6A on Route 125 and parcels 5 and 5A at 141 Andover St. While the board’s discussion was closed, several residents called in to ask if they had come to any result or ideas about purchasing during the public comment section.
Selectman Kevin Caira specified that the meeting was technically for “the purchase, exchange, lease, or any other acquisition” of any of these properties and wasn’t limited to only talking about purchasing.
Jonathan Eaton clarified they didn’t come to any decision but are exploring their options for these parcels that the town doesn’t currently own. Town Manager Jeff Hull added that, if the Board of Selectmen were to go forward with acquiring a property, this would have to be discussed in meetings for the Board of Selectmen, the Finance Committee, in a public hearing, and then be voted upon the annual Town Meeting.
The other public comment requested the public comment section of the meeting be moved closer to the end, after the board had considered the items they would bring up. He also asked about how much money is owed back to the town in reimbursement for the high school project.
Eaton answered explaining that they don’t want residents to have to wait until the end of sometimes very long meetings to comment.
After the COVID-19 update, Town Clerk Christine Touma-Conway discussed the setup and flow for in-person voting at the Shriner’s auditorium on Nov. 3. She described how each district will have a color code so residents know where to go once they arrive.
When Selectman Jomarie O’Mahony asked about early and mail-in voting, Touma-Conway said that they’ve recorded a 46 percent voter turnout so far. She considered their work so far as a team effort. She also mentioned a grant the town received to pay for almost the full election cost this year, leaving just $300.
The board thanked the election team for all of their efforts.
The next item was an initiative at the Wilmington Memorial Library called “For Freedoms,” where teens are invited to share their political opinions in signs posted on the library lawn. The presentation and leadership for this came from Teen Services Librarian Brittany Tuttle, who learned about it at a conference.
“For Freedoms is an artist-led organization that models and increases civic engagement and expands what participation in democracy looks like,” she said.
This lets Wilmington teens share what issues are important to them in advance of the election since they can’t vote.
The members of the board recognized the importance of engaging and educating young people about democracy.
“If anybody can appreciate a good lawn sign, it’s the five of us,” Selectman Greg Bendel said.
Tuttle also said that they’ve been inviting other libraries to participate and mentioned Burlington, Brookline, and Wayland joining in. The google form to submit a prompt for a “for freedom” sign can be found at http://wilmlibrary.org/for-freedoms/.
Three representatives from the EPA took time in front of the board to talk about an upcoming aerial survey for data gathering at and around the Olin site. EPA Section Chief Lynne Jennings said this would involve a low-flying helicopter that carries an attached sensor. She said flyers with the same information will be put in the mailboxes of residents in the surrounding area.
Director of Environmental Remediation James Cashwell said the 2-hour flight will have an elevation of about 100 feet and will focus on non-residential areas.
Since the EPA reps were still on the call, the board asked them to talk to the board to consider items of the access lease and agreements for groundwater monitoring and sampling activities. Hull explained this would be another effort to help fill in the data gaps necessary to further delineate the Olin contamination issue, which was echoed by the EPA. Jennings said they’d have to take a more aggressive approach should property owners not cooperate.
Cashwell also expanded upon what seismic testing is being proposed at the site. The board voted unanimously in favor of the access lease and agreement.
Moving to communications, the Town Manager announced that the town’s Free Cash is more than $25 million. He mentioned a non-technical and a technical letter to the EPA of the board’s feedback, asking the EPA to go further with remediation than what they’ve proposed.
Bendel read a summary of the OPM discussion for the new senior center which is coming to a decision soon. Hull also shared information on a van transporting seniors for voting, a memo with regard to the MSBA decision on the town’s buildings application, efforts on behalf of State Trooper Thomas Devlin, and the five year open space and rec plan from Valerie Gingrich.
The board went on to vote unanimously to light up the town green in November for veterans, to allow the Veterans Day ceremonies on the town common on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m., and to allow the 2021 Sons of Italy annual car show at the 4th of July parking lot. They also approved their revisions to the remote participation policy before they send it out to other boards and committees for their feedback.
Finally, they agreed to meet in December only on Monday the 14th and finished with the Salute to Service.