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In-Town Report 11-27-11

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In-Town Report 11-27-11

In-Town Report 11-27-11

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In-Town Report  11-27-11 In-Town Report 11-27-11 Document Transcript

  • NOVEMBER 27 2011Hart Pond photo by:Carmen Christiano
  • Average Chelmsford homeowner will see $200 tax hike By Erin Smith, esmith@lowellsun.com 11/11/2011 www.lowellsun.comCHELMSFORD -- The tax bill for the average Chelmsford home willrise by about $200 next year, according to town officials estimates.Next years property-tax rates arent final yet, and selectmen are ex-pected to vote on the new tax rate at a meeting scheduled for Nov.21.Under the proposed tax rate, the average home, which is valued at$323,200, would be taxed at $5,624 annually, according to ChiefAssessor Frank Reen.The current tax rate is $16.73 per each $1,000 of the propertysvalue. That number is expected to increase by about 4 percent to$17.48, under the proposal.Town Manager Paul Cohen said he doesnt expect selectmen to ap-prove a split tax rate -- in which commercial property owners carrymore of the tax burden. Proposals for a split tax rate have been asource of contention in the past, with business owners lobbying todefeat the measure and keep one tax rate for all town properties."It hasnt been a split tax rate in 14 years," said Cohen, adding that the board received no comments for a change years,in the rate structure during a public hearing Monday.Cohen said the town is expected to collect $78.9 million in property taxes this year. Last year, Chelmsford collected $76.4million in taxes from property owners, according to Cohen.Cohen said he expects selectmen to vote on the tax rate and send it to the state Department of Revenue for approval be-fore Thanksgiving. The town must send out tax bills with the new rate byJan. 1. Property owners will see any changes in the tax rate on the quarterly bill due Feb. 1. Chelmsford residents grumble over proposed property-tax hike By Sarah Favot, sfavot@lowellsun.com 1/12/2011 www.lowellsun.comCHELMSFORD -- Ask residents here about property taxes, and the reaction is the same:Theyre too high.And theyre likely heading higher.Many in Chelmsford are not happy with the prospect that their already "too high" taxes will increase by $200 next year, onaverage.Residents polled last night in Chelmsford Center and North Chelmsford said they understand that taxes increase, butmany think $200 is a lot of money for one years increase. Some people said they would like to see a breakdown thatwould detail what the tax money is being used for and why increases should be justified.Next years tax rate is not final. The Board of Selectmen held a public hearing on setting the tax rate this week and is ex-pected to vote on the new rate on Nov. 21.
  • Chief Assessor Frank Reen said under the proposed tax rate, the average home, which is valued at $323,200, would betaxed at $5,624 annually, a $200 increase from this year.Marcille Freitas said the property taxes she pays are high enough already, and she and her husband are not pleased therate may be going up again."I think its time the town officials start living within the means of the taxpayers," she said. taxpayers,An analysis of the tax rate in Chelmsford over the last decade shows the average tax bill has climbed from $3,385 in 2000to $5,624 with the proposed 2012 rate.Over the last 10 years, the homeowners average tax bill has increased every year, except in 2009, when it fell by anaverage of $36. The biggest hike in the last decade came in 2007, with an average $278 increase.Freitas said those who are trying to sell their homes in Chelmsford are going to have a hard time trying to get people tobuy in a community with a high tax rate.Ed Wren, who has lived in Chelmsford for more than 20 years, called the proposed tax increase "outrageous.""Im confused," he said. "Id like to know where all the money is going. The schools arent in the greatest confused,shape."shape.Kenneth Shamas, who works in construction, said the faltering economy has hurt his business over the last two years, buthe has continued to see his taxes go up.He said he wouldnt support a tax increase.Dave Boisvert agreed."I think its bad timing," he said. "The economy is bad. A lot of people arent earning what they used to timing,earn."earn.Dan ONeil, who is retired and living on Social Security, said he hasnt had a pay raise in two years and it is difficult to payincreasing taxes on a fixed income."Its not a good time to have to live with it," he said. it,Phyllis Delvecchio said she understands taxes are important to the towns budget, but she would like to know what thetown is doing with the extra funds.Town Manager Paul Cohen said the town is expected to collect an additional $2.5 million from property-tax revenue."It would be nice to know what extra services youre getting for the extra tax money," Delvecchio said. money,Anna Griffin, a town employee, said if theextra tax revenue is used for services likethe recently reopened SouthChelmsford Fire Station, also known as En-gine 5, then she would support a tax in-crease, although she said $200 is "a little much" and she isnt thrilled muchabout putting up more money."I cant complain because theyopened up Engine 5," she said. 5,
  • Matt Hanson Selectman MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2011 Concerns about taxes in Chelmsford Dear Chelmsford Residents, I have received a number of phone calls and emails about the proposed property tax in- crease. I wanted to take this opportunity to answer these questions and concerns in a forum viewable by as many people as possible. I am sure many people share the same concerns and I will try to answer those here.Arent taxes in Chelmsford “out of control” or “higher than other towns”?In Chelmsford, taxes are increasing at a slower rate than taxes across the state as a whole. Taxes in Chelmsford are nothigher than they are in comparable towns. In 2011 Money Magazine rated Chelmsford the 28th best small town to live inthe Country.That article can be viewed here. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bplive/2011/snapshots/CS2513135.htmlIn 2007 Chelmsford was voted 21st best place to live.http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/moneymag/0707/gallery.BPTL_top_100.moneymag/21.htmlThis is based on towns “that offered the best combination of economic opportunity, good schools, safe streets, things to doand a real sense of community.” As of right now we are doing everything in our power to keep spending as low as possiblewithout further cuts to public safety, infrastructure, and childhood education.Why does the size of our government keep expanding?Due to costs like health insurance, building materials, etc., the costs of running the town government typically increasefaster than the 2.5% we are allowed to raise the tax levy. State aid makes up for some of this difference but in recent yearsit has not been enough. So in reality, the size of the government is staying the same or shrinking every year. The town iscurrently staffed 10% below the numbers from five years ago. We are constantly trying to do more with less.What is the town doing to generate revenue and cut costs?Chelmsford retired residents utilize the Circuit Breaker Tax Credit Program at a rate higher than almost all other communi-ties. This provides tax relief for many seniors on a fixed income. The town is pursuing solar fields, health insurance reform,regionalization of services, an economic development commission, and a number of other measures to increase revenueand lower the residential taxes. This is a goal I have and it is a goal I believe everyone involved in the town governmenthas.I have heard some concern and I just wanted to note that my position as a Selectman is completely unpaid. My fellowBoard members and I dedicate our time to the town, to improve the life of all residents, on a volunteer basis and we arehappy to do so.Taxes may seem high but they are not higher than they would be in any comparable town. I can assure all residents thatwe are doing everything possible to keep costs under control and provide the best possible service. You really do get morefor your dollar in Chelmsford. Our students produce high performances on the MCAS and SAT’s and our teachers are notpaid more than in other comparable towns. In fact, Chelmsford spends less money per student than almost all comparabletowns.If you have any particular ideas on how Chelmsford could save money or generate new revenue, I would greatly appreci-ate that input. Thank you to everyone who has shared their concerns and ideas with me. These are tough times for manypeople. If you need any particular assistance, please feel free to contact the Board of Selectmen or Town Manager and wewill help you to the best of our ability.For retirees on a fixed income I would suggest looking into the Circuit Breaker Tax Credit Program. You can follow this linkto learn more. http://www.massresources.org/circuit-breaker-tax-credit.htmlThe Chelmsford Military Community Covenant is also available to provide certain assistance to military families andveterans.Thank you again for sharing your questions/concerns and constructive input.Best Regards,Matt Hanson
  • Town Manager: On Property Tax Increase 11/11/2011To the editor:Unlike a city council/town council form of government, the Board of Selectmendoes not determine the level of spending in the Town of Chelmsford. Chelmsfords Representative Town Meeting, com-prised of 162 residents, equally dispersed across the Towns 9 precincts, approve the Towns operating and capital expen-ditures. The Board of Selectmen has the responsibility to determine whether the tax assessment shall be borne equallyby all classes of property (residential and commercial).The average single-family home property tax assessment decreased slightly from $324,600 to $323,200 for the currentfiscal year. This .4% decrease does not match the 1% decrease in assessment for condominium property, the 4.5% de-crease in values for multi-family homes, the 4.4% decrease in commercial values, and the 5.5% decrease in industrialproperties. This has resulted in a greater than 2 1/2% increase in single-family residential property taxes for this fiscalyear.The property tax increase in the Town of Chelmsford is not out of line with those in other communities across the Greater-Lowell area or across the state. For example, 5 years ago, Chelmsford had the 61st highest average single-family prop-erty tax bill in the state. This past year, the Towns ranking dropped to 70.The Town of Chelmsford’s current fiscal year’s net state aid amounts to $12,670,733. This is 3.5% less in net state aidthan the Town received five years ago. This has led to a 10% reduction in the number of Town employees, without anydecrease in the demand for services. This has resulted in larger class sizes, fewer police officers, and fewer firefighters.Only within the past few weeks was the Town able to re-open the South Chelmsford fire station.The Board of Selectmen and I are working to reform municipal health insurance benefits, explore regionalization of serv-ices such as public safety dispatching, and promote efforts to create and maintain jobs in the community. At the sametime, we are making strategic decisions to invest Chelmsford’s tax dollars. Our school children will be competing in aglobal economy. Therefore, we have invested in new computer systems, language labs, and other school technology.The Town has also invested in its infrastructure, such as the current installation of new energy-efficient windows to re-place the original 1974 windows at Chelmsford High School. This project is being completed with a 50% state reimburse-ment.In summary, the Town has lived within its means. The last Proposition 2 1/2 operational override occurred 20 years ago.We are seeking to maintain the quality of life in Chelmsford with limited resources. This is a responsibility to todays resi-dents and to those who will inhabit the Town in the future.Paul E. CohenTown Manager
  • Appealing aMassachusettsProperty Tax Billby BILL GASSETTTaxes on homes or other property in Massachusetts aretypically based on two pieces of information includingthe towns property tax rate and the assessed value.Obviously the tax rate is set in stone and is not some-thing that is going to be changed once it is put in placefor that particular fiscal year. What does change ofcourse is the assessed value of the home.If you are a Massachusetts home owner, appealing aMassachusetts property tax bill if something you maywant toconsider if you feel the assessed value is way off baseon your home.How is assessed value calculatedIn order to appeal the property tax bill you are going to need to have a good understanding of how the assessed value ofyour property was calculated by your local tax assessor.A Real Estate assessed value is typically calculated on a year to year basis in most communities although it is possible itcould be every few years for some. What you need to clearly understand is that the assessed value of a property is NOTthe same as:*An appraised value by a lender*A market evaluation by a Realtor which is often called a BPO or broker price opinion*The actual market valueIt is easy to understand why the general public can get confused on the assessed value vs fair market value issue be-cause even many Real Estate agents don’t know the difference! How do I know this? From some of the crazy statementsI hear from hanging around the office water cooler or even some of the silly advertising that you find in the Multiple listingservice or other advertisements.As an example “come take a look at this bargain priced home listed for $100,000 less than assessed value”. I bet you aregetting excited already and want to see this place – NOT!What this tells me is that the agent marketing the property knows very little about property valuation or they think some-one else might be stupid enough to believe the property is being given away by the owner. A good buyer’s agent thatdidn’t just get their license and has a bit of intelligence would be able to point out to a naive buyer that the home has beenover assessed by the town and the owner is paying too much in taxes!Keep in mind that assessed values are nothing more than a yard stick for a municipality to collect an appropriate amountof taxes to sufficiently cover the state and local appropriations chargeable to the city and town.Towns adjust the tax rate and a properties assessed value to achieve this goal. For a complete explanation seeAssessed value v.s. fair market value.So how do you go about checking on whether the assessed value of your home makes sense? The 1st thing you aregoing to want to do is look over what is called the town assessment field card and check it over for accuracy. The townfield card will have pertinent information about your property including the bedroom and bath count, the gross living area,the age, garage type and size, as well as the amount of land you own. All of these things play a large roll in where yourassessment will be figured.You will want to look over the field card diligently to make sure everything is correct. If there are blatant errors that pop outyou may have an easy challenge on your hands.
  • One would imagine that if you believe you are being over assessed it could be because your neighbor of someone elsewith similar characteristics to your property is being assessed at a lower amount. This is clearly a possibility and actuallyhappens fairly often.What you are going to need to do is have someone provide you with what they feel are the most comparable properties toyours that have sold in the town. A skilled local Realtor is usually a good option to help you with this. Armed with this infor-mation you can then check the assessed values on those properties. There should be some kind of correlation with theseproperties. Don’t discount the fact that your home may be in a more attractive neighborhood. If the assessed value of thesimilar homes are lower you may have a case.Meet with the local tax assessorWith your research in hand you should schedule an appointment with your local assessors office and file for a tax abate-ment. The necessary paper work regarding the application process and the deadlines for filing should be made availableto you.Applications for abatement’s are typically due on or before the due date for payment of the first actual tax bill. The townsassessor has up to three months in Massachusetts to act upon an abatement request.If you are denied your abatement request and do not feel that the assessor made the proper ruling you have the right toappeal to the State Appellate Tax Board. BoardOne other thing to keep in mind is that you may be eligible for other tax exemptions if you are a senior citizen, served inthe military or have a disability. For an explanation of these exclusions see Massachusetts property tax relief.reliefThese are programs that many Massachusetts residents may not even be aware of._________________________________________________________________About the author: The above Real Estate information on appealing a Massachusetts property tax bill was provided by BillGassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or byphone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 24+ Years. ASK THE ASSESSORITR: How does a Chelmsford resident go about filing for a tax abatement?Sam Chase ( Town Assessor): I’d like to answer that question, and expand by providing some additional informationconcerning real estate tax abatements and various exemptions for which taxpayersmay also qualify.An abatement results from a reduction of a property’s assessed value, and is usually filedbecause the property owner believes that the assessed value is too high.Taxpayers may apply for an abatement each year between the mailing of the thirdquarter tax bill and the due date, usually February 1st.
  • Abatement applications cannot be accepted at any other time or for any previous years.To obtain an abatement application go to: http://www.dls.state.ma.us/PUBL/FORMS/abatement.PDFor visit the Assessor’s Office at Town Hall.Our office must receive abatement applications no later than 5pm on February 1st.Applications that are mailed must be postmarked on or before February 1st.State law prevents Assessors from granting an abatement unless the applicationis filed by the deadline.The Board of Assessors may ask for additional information from the taxpayer, which mayinclude a request to inspect the property. The taxpayer must provide all theinformation requested and allow an inspection within thirty days. Failure to provide theinformation or allow the inspection is cause for denial and will bar any appeal.The Assessors have three months to act on an application. If the Board fails to act,or chooses not to act, the application is deemed denied by law. After acting on theapplication, the Assessors will send a notice that will be either a denial or an abatementcertificate. If an abatement is granted, the taxpayer’s account is credited by the amountindicated on the abatement certificate.A real estate tax exemption is a reduction in the amount of property tax a homeowner mustpay. Massachusetts law allows cities and towns to give real estate tax exemptions to seniors,the blind, surviving spouses and minor children, homeowners facing hardships, and certaindisabled veterans who meet financial, residency, and other eligibility requirements.Exemptions are granted as a matter of law and are not based on property values.If a taxpayer is granted an exemption, the assessed value of that taxpayer’s propertydoes not change.Applications for personal exemptions may be obtained from the Assessor’s Officeand must be filed annually between July 1st of the fiscal year and no later than 90days after the mailing of the actual bill in December. In order to qualify for the personalexemptions, the taxpayer must have owned and occupied the property before July 1stof the fiscal year. If the taxpayer is applying for a personal disability exemption, thedisability must exist as of July 1st of the fiscal year in which the exemption will applyif granted. Exemptions may be granted in the following categories:· Age 70 or older with financial need· Legally blind (with proof of blindness)· A widow/widower, or a minor child with one parent deceased· A veteran with a wartime disability (or surviving spouse)· A homeowner of any age who is facing a severe financial hardshipPeople applying for elderly and surviving spouse/minor child exemptions must meet asset lim-its. Current limits are $40,000 if single, and $55,000 if married. The value of the primary resi-dence is excluded from the asset limit calculation. Hardship exemptions are reviewed on acase-by-case basis.
  • FACEBOOK CHATTER on property tax increasesRoy Earley: Kudos to Pat Wojtas who promises every time she runs for Selectman that she wants to do somethingto help residents with their property taxes. I guess this counts as something.NOTE TO HER RE-ELECTION TEAM: Dont bring up property taxes or Ill have to start digging around in my video archives.Debbie Dery: THEY JUST WANT US ALL TO LEAVE BUT WHO IS GOING TO BUY OUR HOMES WHEN THE PRPERTY VAL -UES HAVE DECLINED??? Thats why families are not moving into town because they can not afford to!I cant believe that betweenthe 10% hike in our water rates and bonds on both the water and sewer, they can even consider raising our property tax bills evenhigher. Is that how were going to pay for the new firestation? I dont know anyone that has gotten a raise in the last 5 years thatwould cover all the new fees and taxes that we have been faced with. Maybe we should all sign up for affordable housing or putour names on the elderly list for housing.Cori Rose: Amazingly enough, that will put our residential tax rate 4% higher than Lincoln MA and 3% higher than Carlisle MA,who have no real commercial/industrial tax base). Gotta love it!Susan Trudel Burgess: We all need a new appraisal of our homes, as the property values have gone down, but that change isnever reflected on our CURRENT property value with the town. Seems we were assessed when things were HIGH and it was leftat a HIGH rate. If the taxes can change, why not the value of our homes ? Not a good thing happening here in Chelmsford, thesupposedly NICE place to live.Maria Castro Karafelis: When was the last re-assessments done, how often can they be done?Barb Costello Belanger: Oh boy peeps this is the same ole same ole....prices decline tax rate goes up. Prices increase rategoes done. Dont even start me on IF big businesses paid a higher rate etc...Susan Julian Gates: Perhaps a good topic for the Town Managers public access show would be explaining property taxes. Tome the most important thing is getting good value for the taxes we do pay.David McLachlan: Maybe its time to take a look at the Community Preservation tax assessment of 1 3/4 percent on top ofeveryones taxes. They have a lot of funds right now that are uncommitted.Joanne Anderson: I think if you purchased your house more than 5-10 years ago, you should ask for an abatement in Januarywhen the new prices come out. I put an addition on which added 500 square feet, a master bedroom and a bathroom to my home.They had to come out to do a new assessment. When the taxes came out in January, my house was worth $20,000 less than be -fore the addition was put on. Not wanting to have someone in the future say "oops" and want me to pay some huge amount ofmoney, I called the town assessors office and spoke to the person who did the assessment. When I asked how my house could godown after an addition, I was told, "You have probably been paying too much taxesfor all these years." I bought my house in 1993.And if my taxes are going to go up $200, can someone please tell me why I cant get my street light bulb changed? Ive been call -ing the facilities dept. since August and keep being assured it will be on in the next couple of weeks. We pay for street lightswhether they are on or off. I told her, I could count 6 street lights just on my street and on Chelmsford St between my street andMarket Basket. What a waste of money.Paul Cohen: The Board of Assessors adjusts property values annually. The Towns assessed value to sale price for the pastfiscal year was 91%.Chuck Crannell: I thought that assessments in Massachusetts are based on full and fair cash value as of January 1? Or is saleprice not really "full and fair cash value"? Just curious.Paul Cohen: Chuck, assessments are based upon full and fair cash value, but no town is going to exactly match the 100% goal.If a Town over-estimates the assesed value, then a town would have an increased exposure to real estate tax abatements.The moneys to pay tax abatements come from the tax levy. If the amount of abatements is higher, then there are less taxdollars available to provide town services.Chuck Crannell: Hi Paul, I can appreciate what youre saying. I was trying to understand the 91% - if that was the "full and faircash value" or that sales prices prices have changed so much over the last year that assessed value is now 91% of sales prices ingeneral, or the new assessment sales ratio. I know that the assessment sales ratio for 2010 was .95 for residential (average forthe State, re. EQV10WebFinal.xls).
  • ☆ - De-Railed on the Rail Trail ITR●11/15/11 File this under - You cant get there from here. ● Stairway to nowhere This is of-fence-ive No more JAVA room after a ride on the trail. Who are they trying to keep out? Who are they trying to keep in? Whats going on here? Time to play the home edition of Ask The Manager.FACEBOOK CHATTERLaurie Pascall Myers: I guess they dont want the business. Who would have thought.Matthew Hanson: wow, I use those stairs a lot... Time to find out what happenedMatthew Hanson: apparently the property owner felt that rail trail users were using their limited parking spaces.Stefani Bush: Seems like a pretty rude thing to do out of the gate....plus, isnt that going to hurt business?Roy Earley: Guess they were not thinking that the over flow from Ginger-Ale plaza might just be parking down belownext to the rail trail and walking up.Roy Earley: Not the best public relations move.
  • Matthew Hanson: It does look bad from a PR perspective... I am curious how this will effect the businesses. I am surea lot of people used those stairs for a number of reasons.Stefani Bush: I just think that there could have been other measures tried first - and it definitely doesnt come across ascommunity friendly and thats something you want to be OOZING as a business owner.....or else your community canturn against you..... Or shall I say....not patronize youMike Garvin: If you are a customer of the bank, java room, or bertuccis and you use the stairs to access those busi-nesses from the trail, let the manager of that business know you are not happy with this change. If enough voices areheard, the fence will be removed. Speak up!Philip Stanway: who is the property owner? one of the stores?Patricia Dzuris: Very un-neighborly. Especially in light of the "pedestrian friendly" direction the Town is trying to go in.As a resident, I want my Town connected to its local buisinnesses, not partitioned off with fences. I certainly hope that theproperty owner reconsiders this decision.Roy Earley: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"Roy Earley: Ok its a fence and I dont really know his name ;)Amy Finn Aker: Thats just mean! Whos responsible?Lori Ipdlthrfriam McDonald: Its down right afenciveLeighAnn Poehler Sciacca: Im not advocating for the fence, I think its a big mistake on the part of the management.But, there have been signs up for quite a while now that the parking is not for the rail trail, signs that people were ignor-ing. I park at Heart Pond to use the rail trail.Jeff Hardy: I have to believe the business owners are not happy about this. why would you want to pervent access toyour tenants. Reminds me of the fence dividing Feng Shui and Staples parking lots.Frances T. McDougall: Not good PR. Unacceptable.Roy Earley: Some one want to call Mr.Potter and tell him the look is just not working for us ;)Parlee Donna: CLM Realty Trust etal, out of Woburn, owner of record. Could possibly belong to someone who doesntlive or work in Chelmsford.Roy Earley: You do not live in Chelmsford and do something like this...Roy Earley: ... He dont know us very well do he ;)Chuck Crannell: This defies all logic. If I were to contemplate parking there to use the rail trail, I would bike around tothe entrance (not use the stairs carrying a bike down). If Im coming up the trail to visit the Java Room, I could lock mybike below and walk up (but probably bike up). Which people are impeded by this curious action?... Ive got to imagineone of the tenants of the plaza isnt happy. But this is a spiteful, counterproductive way of dealing with it.Stefani Bush: I guess what bugs me most is that the property owner (in his/her own right) just went ahead and did that -without even so much as a boo as to why. If youre tryingto mend fences this is not the way to do so. YES...itmakes a statement, but clearly not a positive one or abeneficial one for your tenants.Susan Julian Gates: I refuse to believe that any of thebusinesses have been harmed by bike trail parking in thatlot. Yeah, there have probably been a few people whohave parked there, but not so many that any of the busi-nesses have lot customers. I even thought the sign tellingpeople not to park there was pretty nasty.Roy Earley: ● Occupy Ginger-Ale plazaRoy Earley: This one goes out to CLM Realty Trust, theproperty owner who resides in Woburn and also ownsNorthern Bank & Trust Company...CLICK HERE
  • QUESTION: Why Are the Stairs from the Rail Trail Blocked? A new development at the rail trail. November 15, 2011 www.chelmsford.patch.comQuestion: I just attempted to walk up to the Java Room from the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail after my bike ride and theres a big fence in theway! This is new. What gives?Answer: We pointed this question to Town Manager Paul Cohen. The Bertuccis plaza is technically private property and there is a sign stat-ing rail trail users should not park there to use the rail trail."The property owner has installed the fencing. Apparently, this was over a con -cern that people were using the limited parking spaces at Ginger Ale Plaza toutilize the rail trail or visit other nearby businesses. There is no action that theTown can take with respect to the fencing, since it is installed on private prop -erty. BPAC member Cindy McLain has been reaching out to the Java Room,Bertuccis, and the Northern Bank managers explaining that the fencing mayresult in a loss of customers who access the plaza from the rail trail. " - Paul Cohen Residents Push for Fence at Ginger Ale Plaza to be Removed Residents have started a petition. By Krista Perry November 18, 2011 www.chelmsford.patch.comA group of residents have started a petition to ask the owners of Ginger Ale Plaza to remove the fence that blocks off the stairs from theBruce Freeman Rail Trail.Town Officials have said the owners put the fence up because they felt people were using that parking lot for Rail Trail access. There aresigns in that parking lot which state parking there is not for rail trail use.However, some residents have said the fence will block potential rail trail users from visiting the businesses in the plaza after their bike rides. For petition click here
  • Chelmsford Affordable Housing plan promises local control By Monica Jimenez / Wicked Local Chelmsford GateHouse News Service Nov 16, 2011 www.wickedlocal.comChelmsford —Chelmsford’s updated Affordable Housing Plan has two goals: Give Chelmsford more control over what housingdevelopments go where; and address a need for affordable places to live in town. The plan will be finalized in thecoming weeks before going to town boards and the state Department of Housing and Community Development(DHCD) for approval.At a presentation Tuesday night, Affordable Housing Plan committee member John Edwards explained towns withDHCD-approved plans for reaching 10 percent affordable housing have leverage when opposing projects pro-posed under Chapter 40B, a Massachusetts law allowing developers to override local zoning regulations in townswith less than 10 percent affordable units.If Chelmsford sticks to its plan and local boards create the promised number of units in a given year, the plan willbe certified and Chelmsford will become appeal-proof — guaranteed the right to refuse projects.The plan includes a list of sites where the town might feasibly build a large number of affordable housing units. Allbut one of the property owners attended a meeting on the plan last month, Edwards said, and none objected tobeing included in the document.Land on Oak Hill Road is central to the plan. Edwards stressed no one knows if housing could be placed on thesite — A study of the site was just approved at Town Meeting — but because the site belongs to the town, it couldbe a good option.“There’s no one magic property, but there’s one where there’s a little more hope,” said Chelmsford hope,Housing Authority Director David Hedison, who attended Monday’s session in an advisory role.Different strategies for building housing appear in the plan: Focusing on rental projects, where even market-priceunits count toward the affordable quota if affordable units are included in the same project; using a state lawcalled Chapter 40R and working with developers.
  • The committee also names possible obstacles, such as profit-driven developers and tough economic conditions.Working with and watching out for developers could be good ideas, conceded Chelmsford resident George Rip-som — if any were around.“Today you don’t see very many builders who try to build affordable housing,” Ripsom said. “We housing,may not be able to do anything except what we can do on our own nickel.” He added, “In these nickel.doldrums, how do we get ourselves started?” started?Affordable Housing committee member Susan Carter, also a member of the Planning Board, agreed it could behard, but stressed the plan is conceptual at this point and will be refined.“This is going to be a living, working document that will set the tone for the next five years,” years,Carter said.Resident Peggy Dunn asked why the 2005 Affordable Housing Plan was approved by the DHCD but never certi-fied. Edwards replied Chelmsford did not construct the promised number of units per year.“We lacked the follow-through to proactively go after the strategies identified,” Edwards answered. identified,“It’s important for this plan to have some follow-through.” follow-through.Resident Paul Gleason said even if the plan were realized, large numbers of Chelmsford residents would still beleft living in unaffordable conditions.But Hedison said it’s important to help who one can. Affordable housing can benefit veterans, disabled peopleand elderly individuals trying to stay in town, Hedison said. It can also help people whom one would not expect toneed it.“Think of your relatives, your friends, your kids, people you know,” Hedison said. “These things know,come up at the last minute.” minute.He confirmed it may take decades or longer for Chelmsford to address today’s unmet housing needs, but saidembarking on that journey is worth it.“We’re living in an imperfect world. There’s always going to be a wait,” Hedison said. wait,“People are competing for a limited amount of resources. But 200 rental units can do a lot forwhat we see.” see.Copyright 2011 Chelmsford Independent. Some rights reserved CLICK HERE  for a list of properties that the affordable housing plan has targeted for development CLICK HERE for the Affordable housing plan forum Powerpoint presentation 11-15-11
  • They stopped, they shopped... now what? The Lowell Sun 11/20/2011 www.lowellsun.comFriday morning was Black Friday at 299 Chelmsford St. in Chelmsford. For about 230 employees of Stop &Shop, it marked the busiest day theyve experienced in a long time.The Quincy-based grocery chain -- owned by Dutch-based global retailer Ahold -- put in 11 years of sweatand tears to get to this point. A small, antiquated store in Chelmsford Center has at long last been replacedby a more spacious, multi-service, high-tech facility sitting on a nostalgic site (that of the former Chelms-ford Cinema) just a quarter-mile away from Lowells Cross Point towers.And much like the real Black Friday, it was abonanza for customers, especially thosewho rose early to secure a spot in line. Freestuff, like grocery gift cards (who cant usethat?) and, of course, bragging rights thatthey were among the first inside.Business will rock for at least a week, as thestores grand opening segues right into theThanksgiving holiday.Then what? How big a hangover awaits?A few years ago, Stop & Shop built a newstore up in Hudson, N.H., my home commu-nity. Much like the new Chelmsford store, alongtime Market Basket loomed across the Photo by Timothy McIlvennastreet. And similar to Chelmsford, MarketBaskets ownership challenged the proposal to build in Hudson, citing traffic as a chief concern.The Hudson court case lasted just a couple of years, compared to 10 in the Chelmsford tiff. But Stop &Shop eventually won approval, and built its store in Hudson.Now this is strictly anecdotal, as grocery chains dont release sales for individual stores. But Market Bas-kets parking lot is frequently full when one passes by Lowell Road. The same cannot be said of the Stop &Shop across the way, where Lowell Road meets Wason Road. If I were a betting man, Id say Market Bas-ket was generating more sales, maybe even a lot more, than is Stop & Shop in Hudson.There could be a number of reasons for this, but the most likely one is price. Market Basket has long en-joyed the reputation for lower prices than any of its competitors, which around here also include Hannaford(Disclosure alert: My wife works for Hannaford) and Shaws. Market Basket is also simpler to understand,because it doesnt utilize an awards card or other gimmicks.Market Basket also enjoys the reputation of being the "local" chain. Its based in Tewksbury, right here inthe Merrimack Valley. And until just a few years ago, nearly all of its 60-odd stores could be found within,say, a 25-mile radius of its headquarters.But its not like Stop & Shop, which bought Billerica-based Purity Supreme nearly 20 years ago, folded itstent or anything. One must assume it is satisfied with its performance in Hudson, or is taking steps to cor-rect any dissatisfaction.By moving its Chelmsford operations out of town center, Stop & Shop is once again taking Market Basketon straight-up -- the Tewksbury chain, which again took its rival to court in an effort to prevent the move, isright across the street.Stop & Shop is modernizing the rivalry. In addition to getting a far bigger store, it has included a curbsidepickup program. It has included new technology that allows customers to scan and track their groceries as
  • they shop, and pre-order deli products and get a text message when its ready. Once customers develop atrack record, the new technology personalizes their shopping patterns, and sends coupons consistent withestablished trends.Theres more. Chelmsford Stop & Shop offers the services of an in-store nutritionist to assist shoppers whowant to ask questions about the healthfulness of certain products. It has a supervised play area for chil-dren ages 3-9. It has a Citizens Bank satellite office thats open seven days a week. It has expanded or-ganic food offerings and, in a nod to Lowells nearby Cambodian community, it has two aisles strictlycontaining international groceries.Its impressive. And it likely requires a substantial investment. Will it be enough?In all likelihood, theres room for both. The area is densely populated. Because both chains have been inChelmsford, they each have loyal followings. Some people will use both; you can get good deals at Stop &Shop, but sometimes you have to work for them by carefully reading those flyers and tracking those re-wards points.Stop & Shops curbside program could benefit from people getting out of work at Cross Point, people whomay have the disposable income (after a brief period where its free, curbside pickup will cost $4.95) butperhaps less disposable time. The increasing number of people who are fascinated by the ever-new appson their mobile devices could well give Stop & Shop a look. Immigrants may take a peek at the interna-tional food selection.But the economy is still pretty crummy, and that will continue to benefit Market Basket. Some people cantbe bothered with all the gadgets and gimmicks. And the Tewksbury chain is also known for deploying asso-ciates in every aisle; thus, you never have to go far to ask a question.The grocery industry has paper-thin margins, so it takes creativity to make it all work. Stop & Shop andMarket Basket are going about their business in different ways. For this block in Chelmsford, there ap-pears to be pretty distinct choices. But its not like somebody has to lose.Or as Market Basket operations manager David McLean told The Sun last summer, "competition is good."Business editor Dan OBriens email address is dobrien@lowellsun.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dobrien_thesun. Photo by Danielle Evans
  • Chelmsford game has a decidedly Simpsons feel Simpsons By Marie Donovan, Sun Correspondent 11/21/2011 www.lowellsun.comCHELMSFORD -- If the coverfor the new, limited-editionChelmsford-opoly game looksfamiliar, it may be even morefrom a popular television showthan the similarly named classicboard game in which players tryto load up their prime real estatewith shiny red plastic hotels.Thats because the cover, whichfeatures a cartoon rendition ofthe town, was designed byLance Wilder, the same personresponsible for turning the origi-nal Zestys Pizza into Chelms-fords most famous landmarkwhen he drew it into the opening sequence that introduces each new episode of The Simpsons.Wilder, a Chelmsford native, told The Sun in a recent telephone interview from his Burbank, Calif., studio that he had a lot of fun with the Chelmsfordopoly project. "I included as many of the schools and landmarks as I could and started out kind of simplistically," Wilder said. "But then I said, It might be cool if I branch out and simplistically, show the center of town. I have a lot of photographs Ive taken over the years that I worked from, and one of the neat tools I was able to use was Google Earth.Lance I was actually able to zoom in and go from street to street. Its amazing, just allWilder the angles of the streets I was able to get a pretty good view of. "I kept going a little bit wider -- I didnt want to leave anything out," Wilder said. out,Wilder donated his services to the South Row School PTO, which has commissioned a Monopoly-styleboard game featuring Chelmsford businesses and landmarks to sell as a fundraiser for new playgroundequipment to replace the apparatus that burned in a suspicious firein July."Hes been great," said Danielle Evans, Playground Committee chairwoman for the PTO. "He did all great,this very elaborate artwork, and he didnt charge us because he has such a great love ofthe community. Were hoping hes coming home soon so we can get him to sign some ofthese game boards." boards.In Chelmsfordopoly, the spaces with the highest real-estate value -- in other words, the Boardwalk andPark Place -- are the Beech Tree at the Town Common and the Chelmsford Community Exchange foodpantry, PTO co-President Cathy Poisson said.Business owners and residents paid $500 each to sponsor a property."We have Zestys Pizza, our Town Talk TV show, the George Simonian Alumni Stadium,Sullys Ice Cream, Weston Nurseries, Christophers Towing, Attorney Michael Bowser,Ready Real Estate, the Adams Library, the Best Western -- there are 53 patrons," Poisson patrons,said.South Row School Principal Irene Hannigan said her students are patiently awaiting the new equipment,which is also the beneficiary of a school fundraiser called Pennies for the Playground.
  • "I just give the kids so much credit," Hannigan said. "Theyre really making do with the soc - credit,cer field, the basketball court and whatever else is currently available to them at recess." recess.Hannigan added that some parents painted chalk games on the pavement for the kids to use in the in-terim.Poisson said only 1,000 Chelmsfordopoly games were produced, and about 200 games have alreadybeen sold.At $30 each, the PTO hopes to raise $30,000."Once theyre gone, theyre gone, so were encouraging people to buy them quickly," quickly,Poisson said, noting that all proceeds from the game sales go to the playground fund and that the gamesmake excellent holiday gifts.Wilder, whose mother, Bonnie, was for many years a music teacher at the South Row School, specializesin background design for The Simpsons."Its a great job," he said. job,He cant give away the entire plot yet, but said The Simpsons upcoming holiday episode, which he workedon over the summer, promises to be excellent."We had directors putting on Christmas music to get us in mode even though it was Juneor July. We have a really cool show thats funny and has a great story," he said. story,He has also already completed work on the long-running series 500th episode, to air in February."Thats going to be a huge deal," he said. "We got to design some of Springfield and Lon - deal,don in the future, mixing the old with the new." new.Wilder, a 1986 graduate of Chelmsford High School, shares his current residence in Burbank with his chil-dren and his wife, Maria, a former Simpsons designer who he met when both were students at the RhodeIsland School of Design.He said that while Burbank, which celebrated its 100th birthday over the summer, is different fromChelmsford in many ways, it still has its charms."I do miss the seasons, but one thing I do like about Burbank is it is its own little town," town,he said. "Its really busy during the day with the Disney, Warner Brothers and Nickelodeonstudios here, but at night its pretty quietand has a very small-town feel, likeChelmsford."Chelmsford.This is not the first time Wilder has donated hisservices to Chelmsford. He created the 350th an-niversary print for the Chelmsford Arts Society,which his late aunt helped to found -- he startedtaking drawing classes there in the first grade --and noted that about 150 of the prints are stillavailable.The Chelmsfordopoly games will be available forsale at the Agway Winter Farmers Market on Sat-urdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; at the AldersgateUnited Methodist Church Fair & Festival onDec. 2 and 3; and at the Chelmsford Tree Light-ing, across from the Creative Decor gift shop,on Dec. 4.
  • Tough times, cold times for fuel-assisted Chelmsford residents By Monica Jimenez / Wicked Local Chelmsford GateHouse News Service Nov 20, 2011 www.wickedlocal.com/chelmsford/Chelmsford —Chelmsford residents who rely on fuel assistance programs to heat their homes could run out of benefits before Christ-mas. Unusually deep federal cuts have left Massachusetts fuel programs starting winter with less than half the moneythey got last year, forcing the state to slash benefits.Massachusetts’ share is $77.6 million – down 58 percent from last year’s total of roughly $183 million. Community Team-work Inc. of Cambridge, which administers fuel assistance funds in Chelmsford and 18 other communities, will receiveonly $4.1 million this year, compared to $9.1 million last year.The maximum subsidy for the poorest customers has fallen from $1,090 last year to $675, and from $790 to $285 fornatural gas or electric heat. For people with oil furnaces, the upper-tier benefit will pay for less than a full tank.The cut in benefits comes as oil prices soar. A state survey found an average price of $3.82 per gallon in the first week ofNovember, up from $2.97 at the same time last year.“People are getting sandwiched from both ends,” said Community Teamwork energy services manager Susan ends,Brittain.Help is neededCommunity Teamwork has already fielded 9,000 fuel assistance applications according to Brittain, about an 8 percent in-crease from the same time last year. Of the applicants, a third are elderly heads of households, a third have disabledfamily members, and a sixth have kids aged 5 or younger, Brittain said.“They’re feeling that panic, they’re trying to get their applications in as soon as possible,” Brittain said. possible,She added, “We want everyone to get their benefit. We want everyone to receive their services as quickas possible. But we’re seeing a lot more emergencies this year.” year.Emergencies are people with less than an eighth of a tank left, or nothing at all, she said.Diana Ryder, Chelmsford’s director of Elder Services, also reported more fuel assistance requests coming through theSenior Center, where a volunteer helps fill out Community Teamwork applications.“Folks who have been too proudto apply are starting to come in,” in,Ryder said. “We’re getting the sensethat this is getting to be a critical need.”On top of rising oil prices and falling fuelassistance, Ryder said, people strugglewith increasing rent, taxes and foodprices and fewer jobs.Seniors, who are often retired and sad-dled with growing medical bills, have itworse — and with the poor economy,many cannot count on help from theirchildren.“Some folks are being forced tochoose between buying food orbuying oil,” Ryder said. oil,Staying warm is more important for seniors than most others, Ryder said. Health problems, more common among theelderly, make a person more susceptible to hypothermia.Local seniors are encouraged to turn down their thermostats and spend days at the Senior Center, open from 8:30 a.m.to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, Ryder said — but that still leaves nights. Despite dwindling federal funding, sheencouraged seniors to pursue fuel assistance if they need help.The maximum fuel assistance benefit is available to families living at the poverty line, which means an income of$22,350 for a family of four. At the opposite end of the eligibility spectrum, those earning 60 percent of the state medianincome or less are eligible for $405 for oil and $170 for other utilities.Approved persons may also be eligible for assistance with phone and utility bills, and rent if it includes heating, Rydersaid. Even those whose incomes are too high for state fuel assistance may be pointed toward to a
  • Salvation Army program administered through Lowell.The bottom line, Ryder said: Apply for fuel assistance, and apply early.“Even if it’s only $300, that’s $300 more for food in the wintertime,” Ryder said. wintertime,Vendors feeling pinchSeniors are not the only ones feeling squeezed. Oil vendors must absorb significant losses if they opt to serve fuel assis-tance customers at a lower price – about $2.77 per gallon last year, according to Brittain, and now about $3.55.As a result, Colonial Oil in Chelmsford is among only a handful of oil companies accepting fuel assistancecustomers during the crunch, according to treasurer Kim McCrady. Community Teamwork pays Colonial onlythe cost of the oil, McCrady explained, which does not account for associated expenses.“To a heating vendor like us, it decreases our profits tremendously,” McCrady said. “When we deliver to tremendously,a fuel assistance customer, we get little or no profit.” profit.These days more Colonial customers are forgoing frills like 24-hour service, premium fuel additives, credit card paymentand same-day delivery, McCrady said, but many can no longer afford even the barest fuel plans. Some of these invest inColonial’s $250 cap price program, which sets a price for oil and guarantees the customer will not be charged more evenif Colonial raises the price for other customers. If the price goes down, the customer pays the lower price, and up to 800gallons can be insured.Additionally, to help longstanding customers, the company sometimes waives the fee for below-minimum deliveryamounts. But McCrady said the company cannot keep this up.“We don’t make anything. In fact, we lose money,” McCrady said. money,Colonial Oil has been able to charge relatively little per gallon (currently $3.70) by closely monitoring wholesalers’ pricesand reacting quickly, but other pressures come into play. Natural gas companies have poached some Colonial customersby promising free heating systems and large savings, McCrady said. Several have been disappointed and returned toColonial, and McCrady believes the oil industry continues to offer a better range of heating options, but the industry doesnot need this extra problem, she said.In the face of these challenges, McCrady said many oil companies have stopped accepting fuel assistance, while othersno longer take new customers. Exceptions such as Colonial are caving one by one.“We love to help people and we will help anyone, but this is a business. We can’t lose money or wedon’t be here to deliver to anyone,” McCrady said. anyone,Asked why Colonial keeps waiving delivery fees and accepting fuel assistance customers, McCrady gave an answer notalways compatible with profit.“Because we care,” she said. care,SurvivalColonial continues to get by, McCrady said.“It depends on the season,” McCrady said. “If it’s a good one, we can help a few more. If it’s not so season,good, we’re less able to make smaller deliveries and cater to people.” people.For their part, Diana Ryder and her team have been lobbying state reps for more elder services aid and guiding seniorsto explore their options. But Ryder urged the elderly to step up and speak for themselves.“Decisions are being made that affect them. I would like to see more of them getting involved,” Ryder involved,said. She added, “I would like to see the stereotypes of the Senior Center totally dismantled. It’s not justa bunch of old people sitting around.” around.Ryder guessed Massachusetts and other Northeast states get shorted when it comes to weather-related federal fundingbecause no one else’s climate is quite as bad – fuel assistance is a low priority for warmer states, she said.Brittain agreed more federal help is needed.“Level funding is what we need to assure people are going to be warm throughout the winter,” she said. winter,She described one elderly woman who ran out of oil in August and has been waiting for November to get her furnacegoing. Others keep their houses at 58 to 60 degrees, she said, too cold for the elderly.“These are people that are in crisis,” Brittain said. She added, “It’s heartbreaking to see some of these crisis,people struggle with the cold.” cold.Copyright 2011 Chelmsford Independent. Some rights reserved
  • Chelmsford networking site continues to grow By Monica Jimenez / Wicked Local Chelmsford GateHouse News Service Nov 20, 2011 www.wickedlocal.com/chelmsfordChelmsford —A month after launch, a new locally-based social networking site has more than 400 users. At peak times of activity,CommonPlace Chelmsford sees 25 posts a day. Registered groups include churches and Boy Scout troops; schools,PTOs, student and alumni organizations; local businesses such as the Java Room and the Agway; and town-affiliatedbodies like the Parade Committee and Elder Services.“We have reached the critical number of users,” said CommonPlace Chelmsford coordinator Beth Bounds. users,Bounds and her partner Brendan Berger are planning to compile the home recipes flooding the site and may request theservices of local printing companies to publish a cookbook. The book might be ready by December and proceeds wouldbenefit the Chelmsford Table of Plenty.But although they still monitor the site closely, Bounds and Berger have pulled back to allow residents to make the spacetheir own.In the wake of an October snowstorm that left most of the town without power, resident Mike Combs is using the site topush for an emergency plan for his neighborhood. Several residents have responded with feedback and a meeting withthe police and fire departments is in the works.Monday, a resident interested in starting a networking group for self-employed people was informed about the Chelms-ford Jelly and the local Business Networking International chapter. A woman seeking a washer and dryer for her step-daughter, who has just returned to Chelmsford, was offered a gas dryer. A new resident wondering where to get a diningroom set was directed to thrift shops in Chelmsford and Lowell.A discussion begun over the weekend about the vacancies in the Stop & Shop plaza on Boston Road was still goingstrong Monday, with seven posters hoping for a Trader Joe’s and several predicting the rejuvenation of the downtownarea.Bounds and Berger said the character of Chelmsford comes more into focus with each new post.“I’ve learned people in Chelmsford want to be involved. The town is filled with people who care andwant the town to be successful,” Bounds said. “It’s nice to see all the positive things happening. As an successful,organizer of CommonPlace, I’ve been able to be a part of that.” that.Berger said the same.“I’ve grown to love this community,” Berger said. community,Chelmsford’s participation has also shed light on the CommonPlace project as a whole. First of all, it has proven differentfrom Facebook in that mainly adults use it. Although Bounds and Berger have touched base with PTOs and reached outto Chelmsford High School groups and alumni, they acknowledged CommonPlace services simply appeal mostly to anolder demographic.A nationwide, grant-funded social project, CommonPlace began a year ago as a Harvard University initiative to put neigh-borhoods online, serving as a virtual fence over which neighbors can trade tidbits about their lives, or as a bulletin boardwhere locally relevant information can be posted. The service is free.For the coordinators of future CommonPlace towns, Bounds and Berger have one piece of advice: Build a good workingknowledge of the groups and systems already in place. This will make it easier to connect them all, they suggested.“We want to be able to work with and add to what already exists,” Bounds said. exists,She has admired this same spirit of accommodation and flexibility in CommonPlace Chelmsford users, Bounds said.“One thing I like is the people who originally come up with an idea are not opposed to input from oth -ers,” Bounds said. “It’s not from the top down.”ers, down.Copyright 2011 Chelmsford Independent. Some rights reserved
  • ☆ - On the Politically Incorrect 11/8/11 show,Selectmen Chairman George Dixon talking withCarmen Christiano mentioned that they may build thenew fire station out of the towns capital budget and not evenhave to put it out to the voters as a debt exclusion.Agree or disagree? What Say You?FACEBOOK CHATTERDebbie Dery: Is that how they will finish the DPW too?Frances T. McDougall: I am in favor of whichever method works. It is time to do it. Please, please, please, no more "well I heard we can do itthis way...." No you dont know how to do it. Step aside and allow the people who do know how, get it done.Nick DeSilvio: I support George and the new firestation but what kind of message are you sending to the public if you by pass the voters.Especially after its been voted down in the past under different proposal.Maria Castro Karafelis: It would still have to go thru town meeting. I personally think you should follow thru with original message of publichearings. I would agree to look at the difference in funding, but not shutting out the people of chelmsfordDavid McLachlan: The Capital Budget has been pegged as a percentage of the operating budget. If there is space in that for the fire station orwhatever Town Meeting will deliberate. There are many capital needs. Lets hope this doesnt take the whole budget.Debbie Dery: Maybe were paying too much in taxes if there is enough to use the capital budget. The article in this weeks Independent con-cerning firestations did not say how many each town had. I am very happy that the south station is now open and can give the residents fire protec-tion. But we must remember we have 5. Although the land might be owned by the town, I still dont know if this is the right place for a firestation.There are more accidents on the Chelmsford Street and traffic is more congested than on North Road. There is also resdents that are living behindthe town hall and on Wilson Street.Ther are many reasons why a new firestation has not passed and it seems it will just be taken out of ourhands.After the North Road experience a dont think this is the best idea right now.Eliane Consalvo: I think this must be decided by voters at the next election and not thrugh Town Meeting.Chuck Crannell: So what is it about the current proposal that has Town Hall worried this iteration wont pass with the voters? We desperatelyneed a new station, but not at the expense of the others (IMO). Ive never heard a reasonable (actually any) explanation on whether the proposalssupport the long-term operation of the other stations. the impact on the operational budget for the fire stations as a whole, or why the per sqft con-struction costs for the building itself are so much higher than similarly specified fire stations (labor, materials, location). I dont think these are un-reasonable questions.Susan Julian Gates: There have been other projects done within the budget. I would think it should make people happy.Chuck, the building cost comparisons were comparing apples to oranges. As I recall the comparison building was in NH which has different re-quirements than MA. Also the building in NH was not built to a 50 year standard. I am sure the Permanent Building Committee could answer yourquestions.Chuck Crannell: Susan, compare the costs per square foot the proposed projects to Reed Construction Datas average costs for similar build-ings (materials and labor type). Theres a huge disparity. The NH building comparison is a red herring.
  • ASK THE FINANCE COMMITTEE?ITR:Has the Towns capital budget ever previously fundeda project between 7 to 8 million dollars?MARY FRANTZ (FINCOM Chairman):It depends how you define the towns capital MARYbudget. If by the capital budget you are FRANTZreferring to the list of projects that are presentedunder one article at town meeting (which inrecent years has totaled about $2.5M), then Ibelieve that the answer is no. I do not believethat we have ever included such a large projectin the list.However, we have approved separate articles for specific projectsthat at the time were over $5M for which the debt is being paidout of the regular budget, i.e. without an override exemption.Specifically the Police Station, Library and Center School wereall funded in this way. This is what is being proposed for a newfire station.
  • Open Space Steward: Thanks thoughts the day before Thanksgiving By Joanne Stanway GateHouse News Service Nov 23, 2011 www.wickedlocal.com/chelmsfordChelmsford —On this day before Thanksgiving, I thought it would be apropos to write about what I’m thankful for:· I am thankful for today’s Day Before Thanksgiving Walk at Thanksgiving Forest starting at 2 p.m.Despite the prediction of rain, the Chelmsford Open Space Stewards, local talk show hostCarmen Christiano and Boy Scout Troop 74 are a hearty bunch. You can get there by passing South RowSchool (on the left) and taking a right onto Wildes Road to Janet Road. The Scouts are going to bealong the trail and are providing hot chocolate and homemade cookies (another thing to be thankful for!)!Historian Becky Warren will talk about local history and you’ll be able to dry off by a fire. I remember ourfirst Walk five years ago – I built the fire and waited while my husband Phil returned to the entrance to seeif anyone would show up. All of a sudden, 200 people walked toward me from the trail which was the mostwonderful, heartwarming sight.· I am thankful to all of the Stewards and community volunteers who finished clearing 20 miles of trailsfrom the damage caused by the October storm. This weekend, Phil and Jim Tribou went to Deep BrookReservation only to find that most of the work had already been done by a mystery person. This meansthat everyone will be able to safety walk, or even snowshoe once the snow falls, all of the open spacesites.· I am thankful to Steve and Tom Salowsky, new volunteers to COSS and tree experts, who finished haul-ing away a big tree that had fallen at Crooked Spring Reservation. I hope they enjoyed the experience sowe can tap into their expertise in the future (which in COSS-speak means every single weekend).· I am thankful for all of the volunteers who decorated tree for theAmazing Decorated Winter Tree Scav-enger Hunt that kicks-off today through New Years. This is the fourth year of the Hunt. I remember thefirst year, Phil wanted to decorate at the Lime Quarry that was gigantic and deep in a ravine. I told him hewas nuts and picked a smaller, easier to access tree. We, along with Jim, used dental floss to tie orna-ments to the tree, and it was freezing outside, but the beginning of something really fun. We now have 16trees decorated and you can find out where they are located on a map at the Jones Farm Café, 246 ActonRoad, or on Facebook — look up TreeHunt2011! The Hunt is a way to introduce open space properties tothose of you who haven’t discovered them yet.· I am thankful for the unsung heroes who quietly maintain our town’s open space sites. Meredith Kentcares for the trails at the Cranberry Bog. The site is part of her neighborhood, so keeping the site nice andaccessible is important to her. Debbie Broderick and Scott and Amy Venier are committed to the WrightReservation and undertake maintenance as well as planting projects. Greg Piper and his son Matt andSteve and Nipha Roberts live near Crooked Spring Reservation and keep a close eye on the property toclear the trails and report problems. Elliott Lea and Andrew Giannino care for Sunny Meadow Farm whichis the most active site in the summer with the community gardens. Jeff and Barbara Apostolakes keepHeart Pond maintained so families can enjoy it. They host events and raise funds for safety programs.Bob Giunta, with help from the New England Mountain Bike Association, has made Russell Mill Reserva-tion awesome, especially for people on two wheels. Paul Reynolds walks Thanksgiving Forest every weekand lends a hand at many other sites. Jim Tribou does – well – everything, everywhere, but especially at
  • Lime Quarry. Bob Morse cares for Red Wing Farm. Ken Dews and Roy Earley keep an eye on and main-tain the Cynthia Moores Nature Park. Santiago Rio was doing a great job taking care of Varney Park waybefore he got a yellow COSS shirt, and Brian Herzog is Steward for Bartlett Park, which is a Land Conser-vation Trust property. Whew. If I forgot anyone, it’s Phil’s fault.· I am thankful for all of the businesses and individuals who donate their time and equipment to the cause,like Mike Riley of Riley Plumbing, Ken Dews of RainStay, John Smith and crew from Green Acres Land-scaping, Phil and Deb Jones of Jones Farm, Donna and Henry Parlee from Parlee Farm, Chris Ferrierafrom Christopher’s Towing, and all the scout troops, organizations and groups who embody the word “stew-ardship.” This includes our Town Manager Paul Cohen, the Board of Selectmen, Conservation Commis-sion and Land Conservation Trust. The list goes on.Most of all, I am thankful for my neighbors on Lantern Lane who shamed Phil into finally raking our yardthis weekend because they had done such a nice job cleaning their yards. (Now if only I can get the mulchremoved from the driveway.)Joanne Stanway can be reached at 978-273-1473 or jstanway@comcast.net. Information about theChelmsford Open Space Stewardship can be found at www.thechelmsfordian.com, but become a facebookfan to receive daily updates.Copyright 2011 Chelmsford Independent. Some rights reserved Thanksgiving Forest Walk 2011 photos by Carmen Christiano
  • WN  with Dennis Ready and Mary Gregoire On 11/16/11 Danielle Evans talks about ChelmsfordOpoly with Dennis & Mary Also former Chelmsford Town Man- ager and current Lowell City Manager Bernie Lynch CLICK  HEREPolitically Incorrect 11/8//11with Carmen ChristianoGuests:TM Rep Danielle Evans,Selectmen ChairmanGeorge Dixon,School Committe ChairmanJanet Askenburg& State SenatorSusan Fargo.Topics include:Presidential raceState Senate race &Local issuesCLICKHERE
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  • Annual Christmas Fair December 3 At Central Congregational Church 9 Worthen St, Chelmsford 9AM-1PM Crafts, games, gifts, pastry And more! ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Chelmsford Historical Society Christmas Open HouseFriday December 2, 2011 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM and Sunday, December 3, 10:00 AM - 1:00PM.The Open Gate Garden Club will be decorating the Barrett-Byam homestead this year. Come for a tour and see why Chelmsford is the great town it is today. You might learn something new
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  • Chelmsford Recycling Department Composting Competition ☆☆☆ Share your composting stories and be entered to win prizes! And here is our first winner of a Fishbones GiftHere at the Earley house, we love composting!Before Chelmsford ended its fall leaf pickup, we used to fill between100 and 120 large brown leaf bags every fall. It was a horrendous Certificate!chore to rake and fill them all, then drag them into the garage until theleaf pickup. We have a two car garage, which would be filled with leafbags. Then, the night before the pickup, we would drag them all out tothe curb.After the leaf pickup ended, we decided to try to compost all theleaves. We have two of the large round composters, purchased fromChelmsford Recycling. My husband Roy now mows all the leaves, withthe lawnmower bag attached. He dumps the shredded leaves into thetwo bins. Amazingly, ALL of the leaves fit into our composting binswhen mowed. Its a much less labor intensive method. And Roy justputs on his iPod and listens to his favorite music as he mows.In the spring, we turn over the compost piles. I add yard waste andkitchen scraps all year long. By late summer, we have wonderful darkcompost which I add to my garden. And the bins are free to add leavesagain in the fall. Its a great system!Everyone in the family participates in adding to the compost. And weall love not having to rake and pick up all those leaves every fall! ITR DISCLAIMER: To Roland - There were no backroom deals done in the winning of this gift certificate
  • The Stewards of Children Program is coming to ChelmsfordIt is a training for adults to become more conscious ofthe epidemic of child sexual abuse, the effect andconsequences on our society and to provide tools to actresponsibly if any indications arise where child sexualabuse is suspected.The Town’s Executive Assistant Patricia Dzuris isin the process of setting up a class for all of our electedand appointed officials.
  • Members of the Chelmsford community are launching a new community web platform for town residents, called The ChelmsfordCommonPlace. The goal is simple: to connect neighbors with neighbors and streamline all the great existing communications that arealready established and beloved.It is free, safe, and easy to use.You can create a profile at: www.Chelmsford.OurCommonPlace.com.The Chelmsford CommonPlace is an online bulletin board. Its designed tomake it easy to share events, announcements, offers, and requests with yourneighbors and to stay up-to-date with whats happening in Chelmsford.Notify your neighbors about a lost cat, ask to borrow a ladder; use it to keepup with local events happening in Chelmsford, or to publicize your own; re-ceive announcements from city services and other organizations in town, orstart your own group in the community.The goal is to get neighbors connecting directly with neighbors.
  • QUOTE OF THE WEEK "Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often." – Johnny CarsonFrom the FA R S I D E   o f C h e l m s f o r d The Selectmen prepare for the town’s Holiday Prelude CLICK HERE
  • In-Town Report News Links: LOWELL SUN CHELMSFORD INDEPENDENT CHELMSFORD PATCH ITR on FACEBOOK linkIf you have any comments or suggestions on the In-Town Report write Roy at intownreport@gmail.com ROY EARLEY Town Meeting Representative Precinct 6 In-Town Report Westlands Watchdogs Open Space Steward