Boxboroughmuseum

See Boxborough’s Treasures  October 8

BOXBOROUGH: The Boxborough Museum at 575 Middle Road will be open from  2-4pm on October 8. See Boxborough’s historic treasures including the 1850’s scale which is sensitive enough to weigh a penny and strong enough to calibrate a 50 pound weight, the “new” hearse built in 1881, and the “old” hearse (come and see how old is old).  Admission is free and all are welcome. For more information or if anyone wishes to arrange a private tour for a small group at a different time please call John Fallon at (978) 264-0069.
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Run a Food Drive to Spread More Love, Less Hunger

Did you know that 24% of the food Open Table distributes comes from community food donations?  Your assistance is vital to Open Table.  Please consider running a food drive this autumn if you are hungry to help neighbors experiencing food insecurity.  It's an easy, feel-good community service that is a great activity for neighborhoods, businesses, schools, scouts, clubs, teams, and faith-based organizations.  All size food drives are welcome.  Sandwich boards and other signs are available to help you spread the word.  Go to www.opentable.org/donation-activities/ for information.   Stay up-to-date on our changing needs and news on Instagram and Twitter @opentablema and Facebook.com/opentablema.  
 
Open Table is the local food pantry supporting those in-need in Concord, Bedford, Carlisle, and 18 other surrounding areas.  If you or someone you know is in need of food assistance, email info@opentable.org or call (978) 369-2275. 
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Cemetery Commission Continues “Green Burial” Discussion

BOXBOROUGH: The Boxborough Cemetery Commission met on September 14 to discuss green burials, vegetation improvement, and the digitization of cemetery documents.

The Commission continued its discussions around constraints associated with green burials at the South Cemetery. According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, a “green” burial is “a method of final disposition of a body with fewer environmental impacts than traditional burial. Generally, a green burial means that the body is not embalmed, no metal or hard wood are used to make the casket, no gravel liner or vault are used, and a low profile grave marker is used or no marker at all.” 

While there are no laws in Massachusetts against green burials, there are a number of restrictions recommended by the Massachusetts DEP, including setbacks from private wells. South Cemetery is also constrained by wetlands. The Commission discussed that the town may have to hire a professional engineering group to conduct geological studies. The Commission plans to reach out to the Board of Health to determine next steps.    

In other matters, the Commission discussed the replacement of two trees that need to be taken down, the repair of the shed, and the work of the co-superintendent to convert written documents to an electronic digital system to track information as to who is buried where, the date of burial, and whether the burial was traditional or by cremation.  

The next meeting is scheduled for October 12, 2023 at Town Hall.
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Personnel Board Discusses Positions, Reclassification Request

BOXBOROUGH: The Boxborough Personnel Board met on Tuesday, September 12 to discuss two new positions and a request to review and reclassify the Police Lieutenant position under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). 

Town Administrator Michael Johns proposed the addition to staff of a regional transportation driver. The position is a full-time benefited position funded by a grant through Montachusett Regional Transit Authority. Personnel Board Chair Lee Slade asked Assistant Town Administrator Rajon Hudson to develop a job description and complete a salary survey.

TA Johns also proposed a second addition to staff for the accounting department. Currently, the town contracts with a part-time town accountant based in Florida. Johns said that while the current structure of the accounting department is not ideal, he believes his proposed solution of an assistant town accountant would benefit the town in addressing the needs of department heads and the Finance Committee. Slade asked Hudson for a final job description for the new position.

Once those job descriptions are received, the Personnel Board will evaluate both positions, rate them, and make a recommendation at fall town meeting to add those positions to the classification and compensation schedule. 

Police Chief John Szewczyk asked the Personnel Board to review and reclassify the police lieutenant position as non-exempt. Under FLSA, a non-exempt position is entitled to overtime pay. Chief Szewczyk believes a non-exempt classification is warranted given the responsibilities of the position; specifically, internal staff investigations and the occasional work as a patrol officer. Slade asked for a new job description that captures the weighted time associated with administrative work versus police work.

This article has been condensed for print. To read the full article, visit BoxboroughNews.org.
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Boxborough Capital Committee Holds Inaugural Meeting

BOXBOROUGH: On September 18, the newly formed Boxborough Capital Committee held its first meeting. According to its charter, the Capital Committee “exists to establish, track and recommend the Town’s long-term capital needs for items over $10,000 and a useful life of more than 5 years.” 

The Capital Committee comprises the town administrator, two members of the Select Board (or its designees), and two members of the Finance Committee (or its designees). The Committee voted unanimously to name Priya Sundaram (Select Board) as Vice Chair and Gary Kushner (Finance Committee) as clerk. Per the charter, town administrator Michael Johns serves as the chair. The other two committee members are Antony Newton (Finance Committee) and David McKiernan (Select Board). 

The Capital Committee will maintain the Town’s Capital Plan, a 20-year rolling schedule of capital expenses designed to help the town plan for and manage significant expected expenses. The Committee discussed the definition of “capital” and the types of expenses that are intended to be captured in the Capital Plan, for example, vehicles, furnaces, and certain software purchases. 

The Committee intends to collect information about capital needs from relevant parties, including department heads and committee chairs, by early December. The Committee will review and update the Town’s Capital Plan accordingly, and make recommendations to the Select Board and Finance Committee at the annual “Capital Saturday” meeting. 

The Capital Committee’s next meeting is scheduled for January 17, 2024. Capital Saturday is scheduled for February 3, 2024.
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Save the Date for Diwali Fest October 8

BOXBOROUGH: Diwali Fest is coming back to the Sargent Memorial Library on Sunday, October 8, from noon to 4 p.m. This non-profit, community-led event is an effort to bring neighbors together by raising multicultural awareness through the celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights. Check out the displays and performances, try out different foods, visit vendors, visit with neighbors, explore a new thing or two, and have fun together. 

Parking will be available at the library, Blanchard Memorial School, the Boardwalk School parking lot (with shuttle service), and the Boxborough Regency Hotel parking lot (with shuttle service). The rain date for the event is October 14. 

Diwali Fest is supported in part by a grant from Acton-Boxborough Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, as well as the Town of Acton and the Town of Boxborough.
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Boxborough Police Department Arrest Man on Animal Cruelty Charge

The following is a statement written by the Town of Boxborough Police Department.

BOXBOROUGH: On September 9, 2023, the Boxborough Police Department received a call about a possible animal abuse incident that occurred at the Swanson Road Apartment Complex in Boxborough. Police Officers alongside the Boxborough Regional Animal Control Officer and Law Enforcement Officers from the MSPCA launched a criminal investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged incident. It was soon determined that a 10-week-old puppy had been assaulted with a broom. 

After a 3-day investigation, officers and investigators gathered enough information to apply for a felony arrest warrant for Brian Morin, 24, of Boxborough. The arrest warrant included evidence of Morin using a kitchen broom to strike his 10-week-old Chihuahua “Turbo” in the skull. After the assault the dog was transported to a 24-Hour Emergency Veterinarian Clinic for treatment. Emergency veterinarian staff reported the dog had significant head trauma, including a fractured skull and torn eye socket. “Turbo” is now in the custody of Broken Tails Rescue and is being treated from his injuries. 

Officers from the Boxborough Police Department took Morin into custody without incident on September 14, 2023. He was transported to Ayer District Court where he is facing one felony count of Cruelty to Animals.

“The Boxborough Police Department takes reports of animal cruelty very seriously. The investigators did a terrific job ensuring a complete and thorough investigation was conducted. We are extremely happy “Turbo” is on the road to recovery,” stated Boxborough Chief of Police John Szewczyk.

All suspects are innocent until proven guilty.
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September 8 Storm Hit Boxborough Hard

BOXBOROUGH: Hurricane Lee left like a lamb last weekend, but the severe thunderstorm Boxborough experienced beginning at 2:30pm on September 8 pounced like a tiger, with 55 mph winds downing trees and utility poles, closing roads, and causing power outages to 900 Boxborough homes, according to Littleton Electric Light & Water Departments. Within an hour, the coordinated response of LELWD and the town’s public works, police, and fire departments was well underway.

Department of Public Works Director Ed Kukkula said the “southeast corner of town, Stow Road, and Burroughs Road” were most heavily hit. Interim Fire Chief Shawn Gray also found significant damage in the Flagg Hill Road neighborhood. He warned people not to attempt to clear trees near downed wires, the most danger to residents.

LELWD Energy and Sustainability Manager, Connor Reardon, said the storm was “challenging because tree limbs knocked out power to individual residents, so work to restore power was basically one at a time.” He added that with help from Groveland Municipal Light, linemen from LELWD restored “most of the outages … by early Saturday morning.”

Police Chief John Szewczyk said town dispatch helped coordinate the work of LELWD, fire, and police departments, and “all did an excellent job responding to calls for service and … emergency assistance.” 

This article has been condensed for print. To read the full article, visit BoxboroughNews.org.
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Planning Board Debates Subdivision Applications

BOXBOROUGH: At 7pm on September 18, over 35 members of the public joined a lengthy Zoom meeting of the Boxborough Planning Board as it debated details of applications for two definitive subdivisions near the junction of Routes 111 and 495. 

Residents added comments to the board’s heated discussion of the plan from Lincoln Property, the owners of 1414 Mass. Ave. Approval of the subdivision would allow the developer to “freeze” the zoning rules in effect before more restrictive zoning regulations were passed at town meeting in November 2022. The old regulations allow roughly twice the square footage of construction than the new zoning.

After three and a half hours, the board decided to resume the open hearing on October 2, at which time the Lincoln representatives agreed to apply for traffic permitting with the State’s Department of Transportation. In addition, the applicant planned to address the setback of hazardous waste from wells, traffic data methodology, a sidewalk plan, tree inventory, a study of indigenous wildlife, length of a dead-end road, and safety issues. 

At 10:30pm, the Board began to hear from the 242 Adams Place definitive subdivision applicant, Boxborough Adams Realty and Hospitality, LLC. Representatives acknowledged that they were also trying to “freeze” zoning regulations, but that they might subsequently decide to build on the subdivision site. 

Over two hours later, the board decided to deliberate further at 6:30pm September 21, to consider such matters as sidewalk extension, drainage calculations, traffic safety issues, and tree and environmental assessments. The board will take a final vote to approve with conditions or disapprove the application at a meeting beginning at 7pm on October 2.

After five and a half hours, only six members of the public remained, and the board moved on to vote on a performance bond, discuss special town meeting articles, and approve three months of minutes.  

Board members Rebecca Verner and Cindy Markowitz raised concerns regarding the subdivision plans. Town engineer Susan Carter, Lincoln lawyer Jared Eigerman, and Lincoln advisor Sandra Brock of Nisch Engineering attempted to address some of the issues. 

Citizens Mark Barbadoro, Joan Blaustein, Diana Lipari, Francie Nolde, Jim Syiek, and Andrew Tavolacci offered comments related to the need to hold the applicant to the board’s specific rules; to lobby state legislators to modify laws allowing developers to “freeze” regulations; and to balance the desirability of commercial development with the protection of water, air, traffic, and the environment.
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From the Town Administrator’s Desk

The following is written by Town Administrator Michael Johns. It has been condensed for print. Read the full version at BoxboroughNews.org.

BOXBOROUGH: In the heart of this vibrant town, we stand at a crossroads—a crossroads that will shape the future of the community’s safety and well-being. The decision to move from our local public safety dispatch system to join forces with five neighboring towns in a regional dispatch communication center is one of paramount importance. 

The Power of Regional Collaboration: Collaboration is the cornerstone of progress. By joining a regional dispatch communication center, we tap into a vast network of resources, expertise, support and technology. 

Enhanced Efficiency and Resources: One of the primary advantages of regionalization is the ability to pool resources. In a regional dispatch center, our town will have access to state-of-the-art technology, highly trained personnel, and a redundant system that ensures communication remains uninterrupted even during the most challenging situations.

Cost-Efficiency: Regionalization brings cost savings. Instead of bearing the full financial burden of maintaining a local dispatch center, we share the operating and capital costs with the other five member communities. 

Improved Response Times: Every second counts in an emergency. Since May 1 until present, we have received critical support from State 911 and Nashoba Valley Regional Dispatch District (NVRDD), because we had insufficient 911 certified local dispatchers. 

Community Safety as Our Priority: Our town’s commitment to safety is unwavering. By voting to support this transition, we send a powerful message to our community—that we prioritize their well-being above all else. 

The Call to Action: As residents, it is your collective responsibility to make informed decisions that shape the future of the town. When you cast your vote, remember that you are voting for the safety and security of families, friends, and neighbors. 

As your town administrator, I encourage you to embrace the benefits of collaboration, efficiency, and resilience that regionalization offers. Please feel free to call, email or visit me to discuss any questions you may have.
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Next Week at Boxborough Town Hall 

BOXBOROUGH: The Select Board is scheduled to meet at 7pm on September 26 at Town Hall and via Zoom. The Economic Development Committee is scheduled to meet at 7:30pm on September 28 via Zoom. Visit BoxboroughNews.org for meeting agenda information (when available) and an up-to-date calendar of next week's meetings.
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Sustainability Committee Examines Park at Beaver Brook and Carbon Reduction Plans

BOXBOROUGH: At its hybrid town hall meeting September 6, Boxborough’s Sustainability Committee worked on drafts of three documents: to address the Campanelli company’s development plans at the Park at Beaver Brook, to describe how sustainability designs can save costs for builders, and to help the town understand the need to support carbon reduction in new construction.

Member Richard Garrison emphasized that the committee and town’s sustainability efforts are driven by the Massachusetts goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050. 

The committee completed a survey Town Planner Alec Wade has sent to all town committees asking for opinions about the “current and future development of the Park at Beaver Brook” regarding goals such as employment opportunities, tax revenue, and the protection of recreation and open space. 

The committee discussed sustainability concerns regarding Campanelli’s plans to build five buildings on what was Cisco property; the committee is sharing those concerns with Campanelli and the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office. 

The committee supported Campanelli’s plan to make the buildings 100 percent electric. The committee had concerns about construction on one of Boxborough’s major aquifers. They also pointed out that the possible addition of 8,000 daily vehicle trips would add to the traffic from two other large developments proposed for the western part of Boxborough. 

This article has been condensed. Read the full article.
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Planning Board Considers Traffic Study and Development at the Park at Beaver Brook

BOXBOROUGH: In a four-hour public Zoom meeting September 6, Boxborough’s Planning Board decided to examine the scope and cost of a traffic study for the western part of town. The board also worked on the draft of its concerns about Campanelli construction plans at the Park at Beaver Brook.

Town Planner Alec Wade told Boxborough News about details of the meeting. Because the board is concerned about the impact of traffic from three large, proposed developments near the junction of Routes 111 and 495, the board will decide at its September 18 meeting whether to present a traffic study article for voter consideration at the special town meeting which begins November 6. The board expressed strong interest in considering a town-wide study and directed Wade to investigate both options.

The board spent much of its meeting working on details of the draft of comments on the Campanelli proposal to construct five buildings on what was once Cisco property. The draft became a letter the board will send to Campanelli and the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office. The letter encourages MEPA to initiate a full review of Campanelli’s development plan. Wade said the letter will be posted on the town website within the next two weeks.

The Planning Board will next meet on September 18 and October 2. The board has planned 18 public meetings during the 2024 fiscal year; regular meetings are usually held at 7pm on the first and third Mondays of each month.
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Boxborough’s Affordable Housing Ratio Remains above 10% 

BOXBOROUGH: The Boxborough Housing Board met at Town Hall on Wednesday evening, September 6. After some delay, the data from the 2020 US Census has been incorporated into the Subsidized Housing Inventory maintained by the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities. The ratio of affordable housing units to all housing units is now 11.35 percent, down from that using the 2010 Census data, 12.9 percent. As the ratio remains above 10 percent, the town continues to have more latitude in negotiating with Chapter 40B developers. The decrease reflects the 281 additional housing units counted in the 2020 census. 

If housing units are added at the same rate in the future with no increase in affordable units, the affordability ratio will drop to 10.1 percent with the 2030 Census. The BHB will develop a housing production plan to address this issue.

The BHB continued to discuss the town-owned property at Stow Road - whether to build affordable housing on the land or to monetize the property and use the proceeds for affordable housing. The board decided to invite representatives of Habitat for Humanity and the Acton Housing Authority to describe the affordable housing that their organizations could provide.

Assistant Town Administrator Rajon Hudson has clarified the procurement process for securing an appraisal for the Stow Road property. The board voted to secure an appraisal that seeks the highest value for the land under the present agricultural/residential zoning.

This article has been condensed. Read the full article.
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Boxborough Business Grant Program Accepting Applications

BOXBOROUGH: The Boxborough Economic Development Committee is now accepting applications from small local businesses for the Boxborough Business Grant program, an initiative aimed at encouraging and supporting small businesses in town by providing financial assistance in the form of a grant of up to $20,000. 

The program is administered by the Boxborough Office of Land Use and Permitting on behalf of the Economic Development Committee, with award decisions to be made by the EDC based on established criteria. The program is funded by the town’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) appropriation. 

“The EDC is thrilled to offer this exciting program supporting local small businesses who serve such a vital role in our community,” said EDC Chair Rich Guzzardi. 

According to the Boxborough Business Improvement Grants “Notice of Funding Available” (NOFA), the program seeks applications “for funding for business improvement, expansion, and creation projects. Projects must demonstrate they are targeted to one of the predetermined business types, meet eligible spending criteria, and help make progress towards a vibrant economic center of the town.” 

The application period opened on August 14, 2023 and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis as funding allows but no later than January 3, 2024. The NOFA is available at www.boxborough-ma.gov/677/Boxborough-Business-Improvement-Grant-Pr.

This article has been condensed. Read the full article.
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Liberty Field Reopens; Ribbon-Cutting September 28 

BOXBOROUGH: On September 9, the Boxborough Recreation Commission reopened the gates of the newly redesigned Liberty Field. The adult fitness area, playground, walking path, and basketball, tennis, and pickleball courts are ready for the community to use and enjoy.  On September 28, the Recreation Commission will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4pm. The public is invited to hear brief remarks, enjoy refreshments, and explore the new and improved Liberty Field. The baseball and soccer fields will remain closed for the fall and winter, and are expected to reopen in the spring.
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Boxborough Finance Committee Discusses Assistant Town Accountant Position & Status of Financial Dashboard 

BOXBOROUGH: The Finance Committee met on September 5, and among other things, discussed the proposed fall town meeting warrant articles and the status of the Financial Dashboard.  

At its previous meeting on August 16, FinCom voted 7-0 that the town administrator and the Select Board look at recruiting and hiring a full-time town accountant physically based in Boxborough to ensure timely, accurate, and accessible financial information. 

Chair Maria Neyland reported that the town administrator proposed a warrant article to hire an assistant town accountant at 32 hours/week with a salary of approximately $61,000 plus benefits of $24,000. This position is in addition to the part-time contract town accountant based in Florida at a salary of approximately $66,388/year.  

FinCom members do not support the recommendation to hire an assistant. FinCom believes the town should follow the town meeting vote of May 2023 and recruit and hire a full-time, on-site town accountant.   

FinCom member Tony Newton reported that as yet, FinCom has not received the year-end financial report for FY2023 nor the consolidated final operating budget (including warrant articles) for FY2024 voted at annual town meeting. Both reports are pending completion and release by the town’s finance team. There are also a number of other outstanding requests for financial information including debts and reserves. 

This article has been condensed. Read the full article.
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A-B School Committee Amends FY2024 Budget

BOXBOROUGH: On September 7, the Acton-Boxborough School Committee held its second meeting of the 2023-2024 school year and unanimously voted to amend the regional school district budget from $105,897,586 to $106,224,413. The change will not affect the assessment to either Acton or Boxborough. 

ABRSD Director of Finance and Operations Sheri Matthews explained to the School Committee that in the FY2024 approved budget, a line item called the “vacancy factor,” budgeted as a “negative expense” of $450,000, was “erroneously double-counted due to the way it was identified in the budget preparation process.” The discrepancy resulted in personnel salaries being $425,000 short. 

To close that gap, Matthews proposed to the Committee a revised budget that uses reduced personnel expenses (attrition savings), as well as unanticipated revenues included in the final state budget (Chapter 70 increase and transportation aid increase) to cover the shortfall.

In response to questions from the Committee, Superintendent Peter Light explained that these are “significant numbers” that will “present a challenge” for the FY2025 budget process. 

The district finance team has implemented measures to ensure that this type of miscalculation does not happen again, including increased coordination and communication with Human Resources and other departments. 

School Committee meetings are typically held on the first and third Thursdays of each month in the auditorium of the ABRSD Administration Building at 15 Charter Road. Citizens are invited to attend the meeting in person, watch live, or watch previously recorded meetings on-demand on ActonTV
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Select Board Discusses Regional Dispatch, the Economic Development Committee, & Finance Committee Concerns

BOXBOROUGH: At a five-hour meeting on September 11, the Select Board heard a presentation by the Town Administrator about joining Nashoba Valley Regional Dispatch and voted to bring the issue to Town Meeting. 

In his presentation, TA Michael Johns explained that current challenges with Boxborough’s emergency communications center include staffing, capital outlay, and operating expenses.  

Since May 2023, Boxborough has been receiving assistance from the Nashoba Valley Regional Dispatch center and the town is currently a “provisional member.” The town’s options moving forward are to either revert to the prior system of having its own emergency communication center, partner with another town (potentially Acton), or join a regional dispatch center like Nashoba. 

The Select Board heard from Nashoba Valley Regional Dispatch Executive Director Anne Camaro, as well as Boxborough’s Police Chief and Interim Fire Chief, who were both in favor of joining the regional dispatch center. After a lengthy discussion and comments from the public, the Select Board voted to bring the issue to the town at the Fall Town Meeting in November. 

Taking up old business from its prior meeting, the Select Board voted to amend the Economic Development Committee charge to decrease the minimum number of voting members. The Board then considered three potential candidates for appointment to the EDC and, after extensive discussion and public comment, appointed two of the three candidates. 

The Select Board then heard concerns from the Finance Committee. Finance Committee Chair Maria Neyland expressed frustration that the Committee had not yet received information about the town’s free cash and year-end positions. She informed the Board that until the Committee receives detailed information from the town accountant about the town’s free cash, it cannot vote on the majority of the Fall Town Meeting articles. The TA indicated that although there have been delays due to staffing turnover, the information would be forthcoming at the Finance Committee’s next meeting.
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Assault Suspect Arrested After Search Along Boxborough - Harvard Border

BOXBOROUGH: Multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Boxborough Police Department, were involved in apprehending a man on September 5 for allegedly assaulting a woman at the Boxborough Regency Hotel. The individual was captured in proximity to Interstate 495 in Harvard. 

Massachusetts State Police said a perimeter had been established around a wooded area roughly bordered by Eldridge and Old Harvard roads where they were searching for the suspect.

The individual was taken into custody shortly after 5pm by Harvard Police Chief James Babu who then turned him over to Boxborough police. One Boxborough officer involved in combing the swampy area in stifling, humid conditions had to be treated for heat exhaustion, but was expected to fully recover.

In a prepared statement, Boxborough Chief of Police John Szewczyk said, “The officers did a terrific job carefully orchestrating a search that spanned three towns in extremely hot temperatures.” Szewczyk thanked State Police, as well as officers from the Fitchburg, Sudbury, Harvard, Acton, Stow, Littleton, Pepperell, Ayer, and Merrimack, New Hampshire police departments for their assistance. K9 teams and State Police Air Wing helicopters were also involved in the search.
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Parking Notice From Boxborough Police Department

BOXBOROUGH: The Town of Boxborough has taken ownership of the following streets at Boxborough Meadows: Joyce Lane, Loring Avenue, and Macleod Way.  On-street parking is not allowed. The Police Department will be conducting regular checks for illegally parked vehicles and will be issuing reminders to the vehicle owners and ensuring compliance. In October, stricter enforcement will begin.
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Next Week at Boxborough Town Hall 

BOXBOROUGH: The Planning Board is scheduled to meet at 7pm on September 18 via Zoom. The Steele Farm Advisory Committee meets on Tuesday, September 19 at the Steele Farm Barn, 484 Middle Road at 7pm. On September 20, the Sargent Memorial Library Trustees meet at the library at 7pm, and the Conservation Commission meets at 7:30pm at Town Hall. On September 21, the Well Being Committee meets at 8am at Town Hall; the Recreation Commission meets at 7pm at Town Hall. Visit BoxboroughNews.org for meeting agenda information (when available) and an up-to-date calendar of next week's meetings.
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Bears Around Boxborough: What to Do  

BOXBOROUGH: With recent sightings of black bears in Boxborough and neighboring towns, residents should educate themselves on what to do if they encounter one of these large, powerful animals. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife reports that aggressive and predatory behavior by bears is rare, but possible, so people should be aware of appropriate actions to take.

The state notes that bears spend more time in residential areas when they find food there. Bears have become accustomed to human-associated foods, like bird seed, trash, and pet food. Removal of food sources and other attractants is key to preventing problems. 

Bears find bird feeders a particularly attractive food source. Consider limiting the use of feeders to winter when bears are denned. Also, don’t leave garbage containers outdoors overnight. 

In general, when encountering a bear, it’s recommended that you:
 
  • Leave the bear alone. In most situations, if left alone, the bear will return to the woods on its own.
  • Stay away from the bear. Often a bear will climb a tree to avoid people. A gathering of people not only stresses the animal, but it adds the risk of having a bear chased out into traffic or into a group of bystanders.
  • If a bear is in a populated area, contact the Environmental Police at (800) 632-8075 or, for Boxborough, the MassWildife Northeast District Office (978) 772-2145, to report the sighting and get advice. The agencies will provide advice and determine if a Large Animal Response Team response is necessary. LART consists of MassWildlife and Environmental Police personnel trained in immobilization of large animals. 

 An extensive list of potential bear encounters and how to react is available at bit.ly/3sqfLHp.
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Join Birding & Canning Library Zoom Programs for Adults

BOXBOROUGH: By joining Zoom meetings, bird lovers will learn about local bird watching on September 13, and garden lovers will learn about preserving vegetables on September 27.

Meet with Heather Wolf, author of “Find More Birds: 111 Surprising Ways to Spot Birds Wherever You Are,” on Zoom, September 13 at 7pm. Register at bit.ly/3En0g5E. Wolf will discuss her fascinating new book about being in the moment and noticing the wonderful and varied birds around us. Because this is a high migration season, this is a perfect time to see even more birds in your backyards. This program is hosted by the Ashland Public Library, sponsored by the Friends of the Ashland Public Library, and in partnership with a multitude of MA libraries.

Learn about canning, freezing, and dehydrating in a Zoom meeting with experts from Blackstone Valley Veggie Gardens on September 27 at 7pm. Register at tinyurl.com/BlackstoneCanning. Do you have way too much production from your garden this year? No problem. Join this Zoom presentation from Blackstone Valley Veggie Gardens; they will show you the easiest and best ways to preserve your vegetables.

This program is sponsored by the Whitcomb House Trust.
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Acton and Boxborough Democrats to Hold 36th Annual Picnic and Food Drive

BOXBOROUGH: On September 10, the Boxborough and Acton Democratic Town Committees will host their 36th annual picnic and food drive. Local elected officials as well as candidates for elected office are expected to attend. The event will take place from 2-5pm at 205 Old Harvard Road. The committees invite everyone interested in local politics, good food, and meeting their neighbors to join them. The suggested contribution is $10 per person or $20 per family. Guests are also invited to help support the Acton-Boxborough Food Pantry by bringing a non-perishable food donation to the picnic.

Local activists, elected officials, and candidates for state and local office often attend this event – don’t miss your chance to talk to them! For questions or to RSVP, please contact the Boxborough Democratic Town Committee Chair Abby Reip at boxborough.dtc@gmail.com.
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Residents Discuss “Earth Wellbeing” in Summer Forum  

BOXBOROUGH: “The key to progress is public engagement,” said Alec Wade, Boxborough’s Town Planner, as he introduced “Carbon Reduction for Earth Wellbeing” (CREW), the town’s third summer forum which engaged 15 residents at Town Hall on August 30.

As guest speaker, Boxborough resident Marjorie Kamp encouraged two small groups to enter spirited discussions about choices people can make to reduce carbon emissions.       

Participants recognized that some choices are personal: eat more plant food and less meat; use LED bulbs; avoid airplane travel; drive hybrid and electric cars; cut food waste; recycle; and install smart thermostats and solar panels. 

Other choices require public or government action: protect forests; install wind turbines; build with green cement; conserve water; manage refrigeration chemicals; create walkable cities; preserve coastal wetlands.

Kamp explained that policy makers need to weigh the benefits and the possible downsides of many carbon-reduction sources, such as nuclear power, wind and solar farms, and power from waves, rivers, and tides.

During the 90-minute forum, participants experienced how the CREW program energetically engages small “book club” groups to talk about the ways personal changes can help achieve net-zero emissions over time. 

Wade and Kamp encouraged people to join one of two such four-session meetings with Kamp either on Mondays, September 18-October 9, from 10:30am-11:50am in Sargent Library; or on Tuesdays, September 12-October 3, 6:30-7:50pm via Zoom. To sign up or get information about future meetings, email marjoriek@comcast.net

One recent CREW participant wrote, “Marjorie has been a wonderful facilitator …  It’s great to read the book ‘2040’ and discuss it with a small group.” Another stated, “Suppose everyone in Boxborough, or everyone in Massachusetts took the course and made changes – that difference would be felt!” 

At the end of the forum, sponsored by Boxborough’s Sustainability Committee, participants thanked Kamp and Wade for the informative and spirited evening. This summer, Wade initiated the town’s three forums, hosted by the town’s Office of Land Use and Permitting. Earlier summer forums addressed library use and town roads.
Freebee

FreeBee Market Continues with “Full Community Markets” on September 9 & October 21

BOXBOROUGH: Boxborough’s FreeBee Market has been a popular place with lines wrapping around the edge of the UCC Boxborough church lawn each Saturday at 10:30am. FreeBee Market was created in 2020 by volunteers as a means of sharing food sustainably while creating connections between neighbors, services, resources, and local businesses. Most Saturdays are “food only” pop ups that pass along bread and produce from Boston area gleaners, local farm stands, and supermarkets.

Volunteers gather at 9:30am to sort the food that is often received just minutes before the market starts. The variety is often surprising and varied, from a dozen or more boxes of bread, rolls, and bagels from Nashoba Brook Bakery or Roche Bros to fresh produce of all shapes, sizes, and colors. The line at 30 Middle Road usually begins to form at 10:15, bags in hand ready to fill with the most recent bounty. Neighbors chat and share tips for using what they find, often encouraging each other to try something new. 

The pop-up markets will continue through October, with two full community markets coming up on September 9 and October 21. The community markets expand to include more food, flowers, plants, books, crafts, community booths as well as a free bouncy house and other events, such as the Nashoba Valley Concert Band.

September 9 will be a chance for the community to chat and say goodbye to UCC pastor Reverend Cindy Worthington-Berry, a FreeBee founding member, before she leaves on September 26 for a new church in Natick. Come by and share a cupcake from the UCCB church community to celebrate Rev. Cindy and UCCB's LGBTQ+ allyship that “this Christian church will bake a cake for anyone.” To learn more about the market and to find out how to donate or volunteer, email freebeecommunity@gmail.com
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Recreation Commission Discusses Liberty Field, New Erikson Landry Field

BOXBOROUGH: At its meeting on August 30, the Recreation Commission shared that the new Liberty Field playground has been inspected and certified, and the new tennis and pickleball courts are finished. It expects to hold a casual ribbon-cutting in the middle to end of September. 

The Commission voted unanimously to name the Summer Road land gifted to the town by Ruth Landry “The Erikson Landry Field.” It is hoped to be used for a softball and cricket field. Exact use will be determined after the land is surveyed. 

There will be a running club and flag football at Blanchard for young residents in town. More information will be forthcoming. 

Flerra playground had an outstanding summer. In spite of road construction and bad weather, everything ran smoothly. They had the best group of counselors they’ve had, and their numbers have grown every year. So, expect the same next year!

The Commission expects to bring back Winterfest in January and another RUN BXB Road Race in the Spring. Updates will be available on the Recreation Commission website.
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Boxborough Celebrates Another Successful Fifer’s Day

BOXBOROUGH: On September 2, friends and neighbors came together to celebrate the spirit of Boxborough at the 55th annual Fifer’s Day festival, hosted by the Boxborough Minutemen. Postponed from its traditional June date due to weather, the number of festival-goers so exceeded the Minutemen’s expectations that additional food and drink had to be brought in mid-afternoon. 

“We were very pleased to be able to organize a successful Fifer’s Day having had to cancel due to the weather in June,” said Minutemen Captain Tony Newton. “We did not expect the usual turnout and were very pleased that our numbers seemed to be equal or exceed previous events. It seemed to us that everyone there had a good time and it was particularly nice to see so many families and kids enjoying the activities. Fifer’s Day is one of the special things about being part of a small town.” 

The day started with the traditional four-mile road race, with 82 registrants and 74 finishers ranging in age from 1 to 73. Vasili Kariolis, of Boxborough, had the overall fastest time, finishing the race in 20 minutes, 51.9 seconds.  

The festival officially began at noon with remarks by Minuteman Captain Tony Newton, who told the story of Luther Blanchard, the fifer who marched to the North Bridge on April 19, 1775.

Newton also announced the recipient of this year’s Golden Fife, Les Fox, and this year’s Parade Marshal, the recently retired Fire Chief Paul Fillebrown. While neither honoree could be there in person, State Senator Jamie Eldridge recognized Fox's and Fillebrown's service to the town with state citations. 

The traditional volleyball tournaments proceeded through most of the afternoon, with enthusiastic players and spectators. Winner of the Open Bracket was team “Brandon’s Bodacious Babes”; winner of the Players Bracket was team “Porcupines”; and winner of the Backyard Bracket was “Guggins Block Party.”

Boxborough Minutemen … led by the current Lieutenant (this year Bob Lucas) … do most of the heavy lifting, but also rely on many other organizations and non-Minutemen volunteers to make the day work,” said Newton. “This is truly a community effort.”
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Deadly Accident at Boxborough Roof Top Recycling

BOXBOROUGH: On the afternoon of August 28, a worker was seriously injured in an accident at Roof Top Recycling company, 369 Codman Hill Road. Not long after, the individual died of his injuries.   According to the Boxborough Police Department, shortly after 2pm. the Boxborough Emergency Dispatch Center received a report of an accident at Roof Top Recycling, a company that specializes in recycling asphalt shingles. Boxborough’s police and fire departments, and Emerson Hospital’s Pro EMS Advanced Life Support were sent to the scene. Upon arrival, responders found a male in his 40s suffering injuries sustained from a crawler excavator operating on the property. The victim was rushed to the Boxborough Regency Hotel parking lot where he was placed aboard a Life Flight Medical helicopter and airlifted to the UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, where he succumbed to his injuries. Boxborough Police Sergeant Brett Pelley said the accident is under investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the state Division of Occupational Licensure, and State Police.
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Next Week at Boxborough Town Hall

BOXBOROUGH: The Select Board is scheduled to meet at 7pm on September 11 in hybrid format. Two meetings are currently scheduled for September 12: the Personnel Board at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall and the Water Resources Committee at 7:30pm via Zoom. The Board of Health is scheduled to meet on September 13 at 7:30pm at Town Hall. Visit BoxboroughNews.org for meeting agenda information (when available) and an up-to-date calendar of next week's meetings.
Minutemen

The Boxborough Minutemen Want You!

BOXBOROUGH: The Boxborough Company of Minutemen will hold a Company meeting on September 17 at the Boxborough Community Center, 30 Middle Road starting at 8pm. The Boxborough Minutemen Company is open to anyone of least 18 years of age who is interested in service to the Town and/or perpetuating the memory of the Minutemen of 1775. Members may participate in any number of the Company's activities including marching in parades, organizing the annual Fifer's Day town festival, performing seasonal clean-ups on Route 111, sponsoring the Boy and Cub Scouts, providing volunteers to the Blanchard School and other service organizations, and participating in various social functions. The Company also provides financial support to a variety of service organizations and sponsors a number of annual scholarships to Boxborough students who are continuing their education after high school. Both old and new residents are welcome to make new connections with others in town. For information please contact Captain Tony Newton at captain@boxboroughminutemen.org, (617) 448 5931, or visit www.boxboroughminutemen.org.
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Registration Open for Boxborough Citizens’ Academy

BOXBOROUGH: This September, Town Hall will open its doors for Citizens’ Academy, a unique opportunity for residents to learn how the town of Boxborough operates. The program will consist of weekly evening sessions designed to introduce participants to all facets of town government - from financials, to land use, to public safety. 

Speakers will include the town administrator, town planner, and the chief of police, as well as many other department heads and committee chairs. Presentations will include everything from how the town sets its fiscal year budget to who plows the roads.

Citizens’ Academy sessions will be held Wednesday evenings from 6-7:30pm starting September 13. The program will end with a “graduation” and recognition of participants at a Select Board meeting on December 11. 

Assistant Town Administrator Rajon Hudson managed a similar program during his time in Lexington, MA. He reports that the program “led to more residents getting involved in boards and committees,” and he hopes for the same here in Boxborough. To enroll, contact Hudson at rhudson@Boxborough-ma.gov or (978) 264-1718.
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Library Reports Summer Program a Great Success

by Heather Waddell, Youth Services Librarian

BOXBOROUGH: Summer is always great here at the Sargent Memorial Library, and the “Express Yourself” theme this year gave us a chance to really let loose. Our Summer Programs and Reading Challenge kept us busy for over eight weeks, and there was never a dull moment.

Reading Challenge participants exceeded our expectations. As I’m writing this, 244 readers have participated, and 96 have finished the whole challenge. That adds up to over 925 prizes and badges given out, over 2,500 books read, and almost 20,000 minutes of reading. Phew. There are going to be some strong brains heading back to school.

Our programs were amazing, and we thank our outside presenters for helping us provide participants with experiences the library couldn’t have provided on its own. We’re also grateful for the library staff who provided in-house programs. Overall, we had 83 programs and activities, which is at least two per day. 

Speaking of thanks, Summer Reading and Summer Programs would not be possible without the unwavering support of the Friends of the Library. They deserve a special thank you for not just providing financial support, but also recycled materials for craft time, leads for potential programs, and for being library champions in every sense of the word.

And finally, many thanks to all of our enthusiastic participants. Kids of every age and their grownups showed up, read books, made crafts, played games, watched shows, and proved once again that they’re the whole reason we work hard to make summer so special. We may provide the logistics, but they provide the joy that makes summer at the library so magical.
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Police Department Co-Response Clinician Addresses Mental Health Calls

BOXBOROUGH: After working since early April with Boxborough police in a new position as a co-response clinician, Susan Lemere is happy to find “Boxborough officers are always trying to help people who have mental health or addiction issues, rather than looking to punish them.” Chief John Szewczyk says, “Susan finds the right services for people, when they do not need a criminal justice response.”

When police dispatch receives a call that may require mental health care, officers determine whether the situation is safe, and then Lemere says she “acts like a triage person in an emergency room, evaluating what level and type of support or treatment is appropriate.”

She says she is in close touch with Wendy Trinks, Boxborough’s community services coordinator, particularly to support families that may need regular support. Lemere also frequently rides with police officers on patrol as part of her effort to become familiar with Boxborough and citizens’ needs. Trinks says, “Susan is awesome, and we are so fortunate to have her.”

Lemere says, “If someone is concerned because they or a loved one is struggling, there are community resources to help.” For non-emergency assistance with mental health or substance use problems, she suggests people phone the Community Outreach Initiative Network (COIN) at 508-488-5072. For help with individual and family financial and emergency services, phone Trinks at (978) 264-1735.

Lemere works weekdays from 11am-7pm when she can be dispatched to emergency calls in Boxborough, Ayer, Littleton, and Westford; she is available in person at the Boxborough police station every Wednesday. 

While taking classes at UMass Amherst, Lemere “became fascinated with the co-response model” in which police and clinicians collaborate and respond together to crisis calls. She worked with police for two years in Vermont before taking her present job. She is pursuing a PhD in public health and lives in Westford.
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Boxborough Planning Board Considers Site Plans and Subdivision Proposals

BOXBOROUGH: On August 21, over 35 citizens attended the public, virtual meeting of the Boxborough Planning Board’s consideration of a site plan for a trade shop on Codman Hill Road and definitive subdivision proposals at 1414 Mass. Avenue and 242-244 Adams Place. 

During the four-hour meeting, the board decided to continue the Codman Hill Road hearing to October 2, and the 1414 Mass. Ave. and Adams Place hearings to September 18. The subdivision proposals, if approved, would allow the developers to avoid zoning restrictions the town passed in the fall of 2022. 

Paul Kirchner of Stamski and McNary, Inc. represented the 100 Codman Hill Road property owner, French Brothers Boxborough, LLC. Kirchner explained that the application for a three-unit trade shop was revised to deal with waste, dumpster location, drainage issues, parking, turtle nesting, and landscaping.  

Engineer Susan Carter, the town’s consulting engineer, asked for more details regarding the landscaping, tree replacement, and protection of the turtle nesting area. Board members expressed concern about storage within the aquifer protection district, sodium use, fence height, and possible oil tank storage.

Representing owners of 1414 Mass. Ave., Sandra Brock of Nitsch Engineering summarized the questions that will be addressed regarding buildable lots, right of way, tree protection, botanical habitat areas, presence of Blanding’s turtles, historical sites, pedestrian and bicycle use on Mass. Ave., speed limits, a school bus stop, wildlife, protection of stone walls, impervious surfaces, high traffic areas, stormwater, long-term pollution control, well location, holding tanks, setbacks, and limiting right-hand turns onto Route 111. Members of the Board expressed particular concern about conflicting traffic studies. 

Applicants for the Adams Place definitive subdivision addressed the board’s request for a traffic study. Traffic engineer Maximo Polanco said that based on factors he considered in the subdivision application and other potential development on Route 111, he projected a possible 30 to 40 percent increase in Mass. Avenue traffic by 2030.
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Finance Committee Discusses Financial Dashboard and Role of Town Accountant/ Finance Director

BOXBOROUGH: The Boxborough Finance Committee used a hybrid format to meet on August 16. The committee discussed the new financial dashboard and Reserve Fund Transfer tracking. 

Member Tony Newton presented a financial dashboard designed to track the town’s revenues and expenses on a quarterly basis. The objective is to provide timely, accurate, and accessible financial information that can be used to identify problem areas, help in managing unexpected changes, and provide information for future budgets. To promote transparency, Newton proposed that once the dashboard is complete, updates will be posted on the town’s website. 

Among other things, the dashboard would track departmental expenses, as compared to the budget, as well as debt, reserves, and staffing levels. Newton indicated that while some of this information is currently provided upon request, it is sometimes not in a usable format, complete, or available in a reasonable time.

The town’s finance team, which includes the town accountant, assessor and treasurer/collector would be responsible for providing data for the financial dashboard on a quarterly basis. Information would be reviewed by FinCom and could provide a basis for dialogue about town financial issues.

To implement this tool and make the financial management process more efficient and transparent, FinCom voted 7-0 to request that the Select Board and town administrator evaluate the recruitment and hiring of a full time Town Accountant/Finance Director physically based in Boxborough. The town currently contracts with a part-time accountant based remotely. 

FinCom will continue to track Reserve Fund Transfers for the town. An RFT may be requested for extraordinary and unforeseen expenses but only after budgets have been completely expended. The next FinCom meeting is scheduled for September 5.
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Boxborough Police Officers to Be Outfitted with Bodycams

BOXBOROUGH: Beginning in September, Boxborough police officers will be outfitted with body cameras as they patrol the town.

While Boxborough police cruisers have been equipped with dash cameras for some time, the body-worn devices are something new. Police Chief John Szewczyk noted the bodycam adoption required negotiation with the officers’ labor union as it is, in effect, a “change in working conditions.” Szewczyk said the videos will strengthen the community’s sense of law enforcement accountability.

The cameras were funded, in part, through a $22,908 grant from the Massachusetts Office of Grants and Research. OGR promotes public safety with funds and programs focused on crime prevention, traffic safety, law enforcement, and homeland security initiatives. When announcing the grant, Massachusetts Public Safety and Security Secretary Terrence Reidy said, “Body-worn cameras are a transformative tool for law enforcement. This technology strengthens transparency and accountability while promoting best practices and improving police-community relations.”

At Boxborough’s May town meeting, voters appropriated an additional $7,425 to fund data storage. Data captured by both the dash and bodycams is automatically real-time uploaded to a Motorola-maintained server where it is archived for access when needed. In future years, the data storage expense will be incorporated in the town’s operating budget.

Bodycam manufacturer Motorola will train officers in the cameras’ operation during the first week in September.
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Select Board Grants Alcohol License for New Restaurant, Closes Fall Town Meeting Warrant

BOXBOROUGH: At its meeting on August 28, the Select Board granted Craft Food Hall’s application for an All Alcoholic Beverages License. Craft Food Halls is expected to open in December at 500 Beaver Brook Road in The Park at Beaver Brook (the old Cisco campus). According to the applicant’s statements at the Select Board’s public hearing, Craft Food Halls will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner to both office park employees and the general public. The food will be prepared using the “sous vide” method (low-temperature, long-time cooking), and alcoholic beverage offerings will include a “beer wall” with 30 taps. The 7,000 square foot restaurant will feature work areas, games, and outdoor space with fire pits. 

The Board also voted to close the warrant for the Special Fall Town Meeting scheduled for November 6. Town Administrator Michael Johns presented 12 warrant articles, including articles regarding a long-range water resource plan, a zoning bylaw amendment, a Western Boxborough traffic study, the state flag change initiative, an assistant accountant position, a local bus driver, and regional dispatch. After some discussion, a thirteenth article was added regarding a possible police dog for the Boxborough Police Department. 

The Board discussed, but did not take action, on a request from the Boxborough Economic Development Committee to amend its charge and lower the number of voting members in order to address its recent difficulty getting a quorum for meetings. Chair Rich Guzzardi explained that the EDC has been forced to cancel its last two meetings for lack of a quorum and, as a consequence, has been unable to move forward on the new Boxborough Business Grant program. Select Board Chair Kristin Hilberg took comments from the public and indicated that the Board will consider a revised charge at its next meeting. The Board brainstormed ways to recruit volunteers for town boards and committees. 

Chair Hilberg also took comments from the public regarding repayment of police education incentive overpayments, which she indicated that the Select Board would discuss in Executive Session.  
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Next Week at Boxborough Town Hall

BOXBOROUGH: Town offices will be closed on September 4. The Sustainability Committee and the Conservation Commission will meet on September 6. The Community Preservation Committee will meet on Thursday, September 7. Visit BoxboroughNews.org for meeting agenda information (when available) and an up-to-date calendar of next week's meetings.
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From the Desk of the Town Clerk: 50 Years of Records

by the Town Clerk Rebecca Harris

BOXBOROUGH: One thing that the Town Clerk is responsible for is records retention and destruction. This summer I became aware that there were documents at Blanchard Memorial School going back to the 1970s, many of which did not need to be retained, but we needed to get permission from the State Supervisor of Public Records to destroy most of them. 

It was quite a process to go through around 100 boxes of all kinds of records. Records ranged from payroll (which needs to be retained) to student data (which need to be shredded after parents are notified) to invoices/accounting (shredded) and school committee minutes (retained). I sorted the boxes and documented what was there. Next, with help from the custodial staff at Blanchard and the DPW, we divided the records into 55 boxes to be shredded, others recycled, and the rest sent to the museum to be further organized and retained.

The custodial staff at Blanchard and I can attest to the fact that people organize papers by using way too many binder clips, all of which we removed before shredding. In the future, we’ll be more on top of the records retention schedule and do more regular clean-outs.
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Boxborough Planning Board Considers Site Plans and Subdivision Proposals

BOXBOROUGH: On August 21, over 35 citizens attended the public, virtual meeting of the Boxborough Planning Board’s consideration of a site plan for a trade shop on Codman Hill Road and definitive subdivision proposals at 1414 Mass. Avenue and 242-244 Adams Place. 

During the four-hour meeting, the board decided to continue the Codman Hill Road hearing to October 2, and the 1414 Mass. Ave. and Adams Place hearings to September 18. The subdivision proposals, if approved, would allow the developers to avoid zoning restrictions the town passed in the fall of 2022. 

Paul Kirchner of Stamski and McNary, Inc. represented the 100 Codman Hill Road property owner, French Brothers Boxborough, LLC. Kirchner explained that the application for a three-unit trade shop was revised to deal with waste, dumpster location, drainage issues, parking, turtle nesting, and landscaping.  

Engineer Susan Carter, the town’s consulting engineer, asked for more details regarding the landscaping, tree replacement, and protection of the turtle nesting area. Board members expressed concern about storage within the aquifer protection district, sodium use, fence height, and possible oil tank storage.

Representing owners of 1414 Mass. Ave., Sandra Brock of Nitsch Engineering summarized the questions that will be addressed regarding buildable lots, right of way, tree protection, botanical habitat areas, presence of Blanding’s turtles, historical sites, pedestrian and bicycle use on Mass. Ave., speed limits, a school bus stop, wildlife, protection of stone walls, impervious surfaces, high traffic areas, stormwater, long-term pollution control, well location, holding tanks, setbacks, and limiting right-hand turns onto Route 111. Members of the Board expressed particular concern about conflicting traffic studies. 

Applicants for the Adams Place definitive subdivision addressed the board’s request for a traffic study. Traffic engineer Maximo Polanco said that based on factors he considered in the subdivision application and other potential development on Route 111, he projected a possible 30 to 40 percent increase in Mass. Ave. traffic by 2030.

A complete recording of the meeting is available on the town’s website: https://tinyurl.com/BoxPlBdAug21
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Fifer’s Day, Take Two: Festivities Planned for Labor Day Weekend

BOXBOROUGH: Boxborough will gather to celebrate the 55th Annual Fifer’s Day at Flerra Meadows on Saturday, September 2. Fifer’s Day was originally scheduled for June 17 but was postponed due to predicted rain and thunderstorms and rescheduled to September. 

The festivities will include a road race, the presentation of the Golden Fife and Parade Marshal Awards, a volleyball tournament, and an old-fashioned fair with food, music, and booths. This time, the fair will have a rain date of September 3. The road race, however, will take place rain or shine on September 2. The Fifer’s Day parade will not take place this year. Here’s what to expect:
 
  • Road Race: The Fifer’s Four Mile Road Race begins at 9:30 a.m. at the entrance to Flerra Meadows on Stow Road. Register at http://fifersday.org .
  • Volleyball Tournament: The tournament will start at 12:30 p.m. This year, there will be three co-ed brackets: Open, Players, and Backyard. Register at http://fifersday.org
  • Fair: Eat, drink, chat with neighbors, and visit the booths. Starting at noon, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, sausage, soft drinks, beer, wine, and Pony Shack cider will be available for purchase. Enjoy live music by The Rocky Woods Express, Pan Loco steel drums, and Final Mile. 
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Boxborough Forum Aug. 30 Focuses on “Earth Wellbeing”

BOXBOROUGH: Boxborough’s Office of Land Use and Permitting is inviting the public to an evening of “great fun … learning and engagement” in town hall at 7pm on August 30. Town Planner Alec Wade writes, “Join us as we learn how what we eat, wear, drive, and throw away can help our environment.”

In leading this third public forum of the summer, guest speaker Marjorie Kamp will introduce a project called CREW: “Carbon Reduction for Earth Wellbeing.” CREW helps people understand what they can do over time to help achieve net-zero carbon emissions. Kamp will give participants a look at a larger course now available in September.

Earlier Boxborough public forums were “Help Design Your Library” and “Paving the Way to Better Roads in Boxborough.” 
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New Appraisal for Stow Road Property

BOXBOROUGH: The Boxborough Housing Board met at Town Hall on Wednesday evening, May 16. The board first discussed the disposition of the property at 70-72 Stow Road, which is currently under BHB stewardship. This 13.48-acre property was purchased by the town in 2010 and is located across the road from Tisbury Meadows. The BHB must use the property to develop affordable housing. 

The board discussed two primary courses of action. The first option is to continue the investigation into affordable housing at Stow Road. Site constraints limit the development size to about 30 bedrooms, or, for example, 15 two-bedroom units. According to a local developer, a substantial investment from the town would be required if all units are affordable. If only a fraction of the units are affordable, the required investment would diminish or even vanish. The BHB will continue to clarify the costs and options for a housing development. Board vice chair Channing Wagg volunteered to speak with the Acton Housing Authority and Habitat for Humanity.

The second option is to transfer control of the property to the Select Board, provided that the BHB is properly compensated. This would enable the land to be used for several other purposes, such as a fire station or a mixed-use commercial/residential area. It was pointed out that reasonable compensation would enable considerably more affordable-housing units to be preserved and created than by building a limited number of affordable units on the property. No serious negotiations regarding the amount have yet occurred; the BHB voted to secure a current appraisal from a registered appraiser. The BHB then intends to negotiate with the appropriate officials to establish a value for the compensation.

The next BHB meeting is on Wednesday, September 6 at 7 p.m. at town hall; all are welcome. 
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Finance Committee Discusses Financial Dashboard

BOXBOROUGH: The Boxborough Finance Committee used a hybrid format to meet on August 16. The committee discussed the new financial dashboard and Reserve Fund Transfer tracking. 

Member Tony Newton presented a financial dashboard designed to track the town’s revenues and expenses on a quarterly basis. The objective is to provide timely, accurate, and accessible financial information that can be used to identify problem areas, help in managing unexpected changes, and provide information for future budgets. To promote transparency, Newton proposed that once the dashboard is complete, updates will be posted on the town’s website. 

Among other things, the dashboard would track departmental expenses, as compared to the budget, as well as debt, reserves, and staffing levels. Newton indicated that while some of this information is currently provided upon request, it is sometimes not in a usable format, complete, or available in a reasonable time.

The town’s finance team, which includes the town accountant, assessor and treasurer/collector would be responsible for providing data for the financial dashboard on a quarterly basis. Information would be reviewed by FinCom and could provide a basis for dialogue about town financial issues.

To implement this tool and make the financial management process more efficient and transparent, FinCom voted 7-0 to request that the Select Board and town administrator evaluate the recruitment and hiring of a full time Town Accountant/Finance Director physically based in Boxborough. The town currently contracts with a part-time accountant based remotely. 

FinCom will continue to track Reserve Fund Transfers for the town. An RFT may be requested for extraordinary and unforeseen expenses but only after budgets have been completely expended. The next FinCom meeting is scheduled for September 5. 
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August Updates from the Boxborough Town Planner

BOXBOROUGH: During the month of August, the Office of Land Use and Permitting was busy preparing for a Zoning Board of Appeals public hearing to decide on a special permit on the Leverett House (Harvard Ridge Condominiums) on Swanson Road that was destroyed by a fire in February 2021. On August 15, the board voted to Grant with Conditions a special permit to reconstruct the 24-unit multi-family housing building. 

The Office of Land Use and Permitting also continued to support the work of the Planning Board. Below are status updates on several significant development projects currently in front of the Planning Board:
 
  • The Park at Beaver Brook: This month, the Office of Land Use and Permitting launched a public engagement exercise for Boxborough boards and committees of Boxborough. The goal is to collect input on the park and assist the Planning Board in understanding the desires of the public. An exercise is being devised now to gather general feedback from the public as well.
  • 1414 Mass Ave: The Planning Board continues to weigh its statutory responsibilities on the subdivision application. The deadline for decision has been extended to September 22. The public can read more details of the project on the Planning Board's current projects web page bit.ly/47E4gMI.
  • 242-244 Adams Place: The Planning Board continues to weigh its statutory responsibilities on the subdivision application. The deadline for decision has been extended to September 22. The public can read more details of the project on the Planning Board's current projects web page bit.ly/47E4gMI. Most notably, the applicant has submitted its first revision and answered many board questions in writing.

In September, the town planner expects to spend time on community engagement projects related to the Park at Beaver Brook. “Residents should keep an eye out in September for an opportunity to contribute to the Park at Beaver Brook engagement,” said Wade. In addition, Wade will begin preparing for a joint meeting of the Select Board and Planning Board regarding the current status of the Master Plan and next steps to assist in ongoing implementation.
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From the Town Administrator’s Desk, Part II 

[Note: The following is written by Town Administrator Michael Johns. This is Part II of TA Johns’ inaugural monthly note to Boxborough News readers. The note has been condensed for print. Read the full version, and Part I, at BoxboroughNews.org.]

BOXBOROUGH: Below are highlights from the Select Board and Town Administrator Strategic Goals agreed to in March 2023. 

ARPA spending plan – Thus far, approximately half of the $1.7M in federal grant funding has been spent on or committed to municipal building HVAC upgrades, ABRSD school infrastructure, underground fuel tank removal and replacement engineering, cable access government channel broadcasting equipment upgrades, and Grange Room acoustic upgrades. 

Succession planning – We are in the process of cross training and building skillset redundancy, as appropriate, and are starting the process of having staff build succession binders to document responsibilities and procedures to carry out their public service duties.

IT strategic plan - Between August and September, the town will migrate to the Google cloud-based platform for email and document storage. Although Google will be our email provider, all addresses for town staff and committee members will remain the same, such as mjohns@boxborough-ma.gov

Communication strategy - We are currently in the process of redesigning the town’s website for ease of use, improved presentation, and enhanced communication.  Additionally, we are working closely with Boxborough News volunteers and Boxborough Community Television (BXBTV) staff to provide relevant, timely information and updates to all residents and community stakeholders. In the near future we will be soliciting valuable input from community stakeholders through employee engagement surveys and customer service surveys. 

New police and fire department facilities (per BXB 2030) - In September, the Boxborough Building Committee will be meeting with the chiefs and administration to continue pursuing facilities for our public safety needs.  

Additionally, we as a town are working very hard at becoming more financially and economically sustainable. Through the hard work of our Assistant Town Administrator Rajon Hudson and the Personnel Board, we are working toward the goal of becoming an “employer of choice” in a very competitive job market. 

Until next month…I hope you find this information helpful, and I look forward to any and all constructive feedback on ways to improve this communication to you.
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New Boxborough Restaurant Applies for Liquor License, Hearing Set

BOXBOROUGH: Craft Food Halls, a local restaurant chain specializing in modern and social food service, has applied for a liquor license through the Boxborough Select Board. The hearing on the liquor license is scheduled to take place at the August 28 Select Board meeting. 

Craft Food Halls plans to open a 7,000 square foot restaurant on the ground floor of 500 Beaver Brook Road in The Park at Beaver Brook (the old Cisco campus). They expect to offer indoor and outdoor dining, game areas, and patio fire pits. Craft Food Halls currently operates restaurants in Boston, Lexington, Marlborough, Waltham, and Wellesley.

According to Town Planner Alec Wade, the restaurant expects to open its doors in December.
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Next Week at Boxborough Town Hall

BOXBOROUGH: The Select Board will meet on August 28 at 7pm in person at Town Hall and on Zoom. Visit BoxboroughNews.org for meeting agenda information (when available) and an up-to-date calendar of next week's meetings.