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In-Town Report 7-5-2009


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The latest IN TOWN REPORT, as prepared and edited by Roy Earley, a Town Meeting Representative from Precinct Six. Thank you Roy, for doing such a great job with this IN TOWN REPORT. It contains a great deal of information about current issues facing our town, and many video links to local TV shows and meetings, all contained in one convenient publication. This IN TOWN REPORT should be useful to anyone interested in the town of Chelmsford.

In this issue of the IN TOWN REPORT the focus is primarily on the following:


Thanks to all of you who help make Chelmsford such a wonderful community.

Tom Christiano
TM Representative, Precinct 9
Thurs 7:00 AM; Sundays 11:00 AM
Chelmsford Cable TV Channel 8

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In-Town Report 7-5-2009

  1. 1. ASK THE MANAGER: In-Town Report 6-26-09 Some Q&A with the Town Manager regarding the Special Town Meeting August 17th to adopt local option taxes on restaurant meals and hotel rooms to help offset the deficit. And also two P ro p o s i t i o n 2 1 / 2 d e b t e x c l u s i o n o v e r r i d e questions. A $13 million override would pay to purchase the Old Mother Hubbard building off Billerica Road and convert it into the DPW facility. The second override question would seek $12 million to construct a new Center Fire Station on town-owned land at the corner of Wilson and Chelmsford streets. In-Town Report : How much money has the town spent so far "studying" the need for a new DPW and Center Fire Station? Chelmsford Town Manager Paul Cohen: At the 2007 Spring Annual Town Meeting, the Town appropriated $17,000 for the preliminary planning of a fire and DPW facility. At the 2007 Fall Annual Town Meeting, th e Town appropriated $85,000 for the feasibility studies for the planning and construction of a new Fire Department Headquarters and for the planning and construction of a new De- partment of Public Works facility. In-Town Report : How many debt exclusions are we currently still paying for in the town? Town Manager Paul Cohen: The existing excluded debt is for portions of the sewer project and the high school/middle schools construction projects. In-Town Report : How much will it cost(roughly)for the Town to hold a special election in October for a debt inclusion vote? Town Manager Paul Cohen: Approximately $18,000. In-Town Report : Does the meal/hotel tax have to go to a special town wide ballot also? Town Manager Paul Cohen: No, the .75% local option meals tax and the 2% increase in the room occupancy tax only require town meeting approval. In-Town Report : If the Town adds on it's own meal/hotel tax on top of what the State is adding, will the town tax come directly back to town? Town Manager Paul Cohen: Yes. The estimated annual local revenue from a .75% meals tax is approximately $220,000 and the estimated annual local revenue from a 2% increase in the room occupanc y tax is approximately $130,000.
  2. 2. Poor economy could aid town's structural needs By Rita Savard, 06/29/2009 CHELMSFORD -- Pat Maloney said the pictures are worth 1,000 words. Temporary wooden support beams hoisting up the Center Fire Station's floor. A rickety trailer housing the administrative offices for the Department of Public Works. Both sights, said Maloney, chairman of the Fire Department and DPW Facility Study Committee, are an eyesore. But more impor- tant than aesthetics is the structural integrity of both buildings, the Study Committee reported. "You can't assume what's there is going to hold up forever," Maloney said. Although money is tight, Town Manager Paul Cohen said the re- cession might actually present an opportunity to address struc- tural needs for both antiquated buildings. Cohen said he would like to see both projects put before a Special Town Meeting scheduled for Aug. 17. "The current economy offers a favorable bidding climate for construction, reduced cost for real-es- tate acquisitions and low interest for borrowing," Cohen said. "Because our debt rate is declining, both projects would have a minimal impact on the average single-family tax bill." In March, the Study Committee said Chelmsford could save millions of dollars by moving the DPW opera- tions to an existing building on Alpha Road for about $12.8 million. Building a brand-new facility, reported the committee, would cost the town about $31.2 million. At the time, officials said the town couldn't afford to bring both buildings up to date, considering that build- ing a new fire station on the corner of Chelmsford and Wilson streets would cost another $11.9 million. The Fire Department plans to apply for a $5 million federal grant to help foot the bill. But the grant, officials warned, is highly competitive. In the meantime, the Study Committee also suggested that the sagging Center Fire Station floor could be rebuilt for about $590,000. Maloney said that while firefighters at the Center Station "couldn't be living in worse conditions, the cost savings for relocating the DPW were far too great to ignore." If the DPW relocation and a new fire station are approved by Town Meeting at a combined cost of about $25 million -- not accounting for any possible fed- eral stimulus money -- it wouldn't impact tax bills until about 2013, when the economy is expected to be better, Cohen said. Both projects would increase the average single family tax bill by about $76.50 at its highest rate, which Cohen estimates would be in 2014. After that, the amount would continue to decline until 2020, when the debt service is expected to return to its current level. Some officials say more input from the public is needed before either project end up on the floor of Town Meeting. "The Alpha Road site does provide the town with a big cost savings," Selectmen Chairwoman Clare Jeannotte said. "But more in-depth discussions are needed, with room for community input, before we can talk about sending either one of these issues to Town Meeting for a vote."
  3. 3. Chelmsford mulls $25M for Fire, DPW headquarters By Rita Savard, 06/30/2009 CHELMSFORD -- The crack in the foundation was visible in 1987. Now the floor of the Chelmsford Center Fire Station is crumbling. "It's decrepit, deplorable, in terrible condition," said Selectmen Chairwoman Clare Jeannotte. But town officials said the big hurdle in fixing the problem will be getting voters to approve $25 million to build a new fire station on the corner of Wilson and Chelmsford streets, and relocate the town's Department of Public Works to Alpha Road. "We can't sit around and wait for the floor to collapse," Jeannotte said. "But it's a difficult time to ask this." With the town's excluded debt service on capital projects decreasing over the next couple years, Jeannotte said residents might not be willing to take on another expense to fill the void. But Town Manager Paul Cohen reminded selectmen that the poor economy puts the town in an excellent position to bid for construction costs at much lower rates and low interest for borrowing. In March, a committee charged with researching two of the town's oldest municipal buildings said Chelms- ford could save millions of dollars by moving DPW operations to an existing building on Alpha Road, off Route 129, for about $12.8 million. Building a new facility would cost about $31.2 million. In addition, building a new fire station would cost $11.9 million. Cohen said if both projects were done now, the town would also save on sharing project managers for the renovation and construction of both buildings. "We can wait until a better day, but the better day might never come," Cohen said. "No one is building a Taj Mahal here. We have to trust the voters to make the best decision." The Fire Department and DPW Facility Committee did suggest that the sagging Center Fire Station Floor could be rebuilt for about $590,000. Former Selectman Bill Dalton, who was also on the study committee, said that would be like "throwing good money out the window." "Even if the floor is fixed, the building has other structural problems," Dalton said. "And like the town manager said, it's just not big enough to house the department's headquarters into the future." Fire Chief Jack Parow told officials that firefighters currently park in a bank parking lot next door because there isn't enough room behind their own building. Parow also talked about the netting in place under a section of the floor where a piece of concrete keeps crumbling every time a fire engine rolls in. "One day a wheel will come through that floor," he said. Jeannotte asked David Turocy, the Finance Committee representative on the study committee, why he did- n't vote in favor of building a new fire station. While he believes a new fire station is needed, Turocy said he also believes something had to be done and opted to support an alternative more palatable to voters. If a new fire station were on the ballot, Turocy said he would vote for it. Cohen said if both projects are approved for about $25 million, it wouldn't affect tax bills until 2013. At its highest rate, the average single-family tax bill would increase by about $76.50 in 2014, then continue to de- crease each subsequent year until the debt service returns to current levels in 2020. Selectmen expect to hold a public input session on both projects in July.
  4. 4. NMCOG will study effect of regional 911 By Rita Savard, 07/01/2009 CHELMSFORD -- How local should 911 centers be? Town and public-safety officials say regionalizing emergency dispatch services is a move to save money and improve the system. But as the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments launches a study on re- gionalization, there are concerns over mistakes and delays from outside dispatchers who might not know the communities to which they're sending emergency responders. "Sharing 911 dispatch services seems to make more sense than maintaining many small fiefdoms," said Chelmsford Town Manager Paul Cohen. Several other states have taken a regional approach to 911 emergency call centers and it works, Cohen said. He cited Rhode Island, which has one regional center, and California, which has six. Massachusetts has more than 200. Gov. Deval Patrick, who is also pushing for regionalization, has said sharing dispatch operations statewide could save cities and towns thousands of dollars. NMCOG Executive Director Beverly Woods said the study should take about a year to complete, with representatives from each of the council's nine communities participating. "It's very common in other parts of the country, and already in some parts of Massachusetts, including the Berkshires and Cape Cod, so there are many different models to look at," Woods said. "Ultimately, it's being looked at as another cost-saving measure to deal with some of the cuts in local aid." Wood said NMCOG received $20,000 this year from the District Local Technical Assistance Program to open dialogue among communities and begin identifying what the issues are. The council has also ap- plied for a grant from the state 911 department to undertake a more detailed analysis that would com- pare what each community spends on 911 dispatch services and how much it could save by merging resources. In March, state officials agreed to fund the creation of a regional emergency dispatch center in Essex County. The Executive Office of Public Safety awarded $4.9 million toward the cost of building and equip- ping the center. It also committed to covering the $6.8 million project cost. The Essex County Sheriff's office manages the dispatch center in cooperation with local police fire and fi- nance advisory boards. Chelmsford resident Anne Holland, who has an elderly mother with Alzheimer's, said she's a little con- cerned about regionalization taking dispatchers out of their respective communities. "People like the idea of having people they know, who know their town on the other end of that phone when the worst happens," Holland said. Chelmsford Fire Chief Jack Parow said he has talked to several fire chiefs in Essex County who are happy with the move to regionalization. But like any change, Parow said in the beginning it can be a difficult concept to grasp. "There's that old Yankee mentality of wanting to keep your piece of what you have," Parow said. "The driving force for town managers is saving money. For us it's a much better system with more manpower and professionally trained dispatchers. I've seen it work around the country and it could work here too." Chief Jack Parow
  5. 5. Chelmsford, Westford residents girding for fight vs. asphalt plant By Rita Savard, 06/26/2009 CHELMSFORD -- A single mother, a Harvard research scientist and a school-bus driver. The people living along Groton Road don't look the same, but now many are sharing the same title ever since company executives from Newport Materials Inc., proposed to build a hot-mix asphalt plant next door to their homes: community activist. More than 200 residents in Chelmsford, joined by dozens of neighbors in Westford, have been circulating petitions online and door to door, to keep the 4-acre plant from moving into Westford. As names are added to the petitions daily, abutters hope town officials will hear their message. "A facility like this just doesn't belong next to residential neighborhoods," said Merle Adelman, a resident of the Scotty Hollow community in Chelmsford, located about 1,300 feet from the proposed site at 540 Groton Road. Upset that possible health, environmental and transportation concerns may be overlooked to allow for construction of the plant, residents on both sides of the town line say they won't back down. The biggest concern among the growing grass-roots effort, said Adelman, is children breathing in toxins. "These neighborhoods are filled with kids," Adelman said. "I understand (Newport Materials) is doing everything they can to make the plant as clean as possible, but you're still going to have particle pollution." But representatives for Newport Materials say 99.9 percent of the particulate matter emitted will be cap- tured by the plant's clean-burning technology. "The emission report we submitted was very clear," company spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne said. "We will produce some emissions, but they are so far below the standards of safety set by federal and state regulators that they will not have a negative impact on the communities in this case." Tranchemontagne also cited study results from an independent consultant hired by the town of Westford. Consultant David MacIntosh of Needham-based Environmental Health and Engineering Inc., reported that chemical and compound emissions from the plant wouldn't have any major impacts on health.
  6. 6. Members of the Westford Route 40 Clean Air Coalition, including Harvard research scientist Michael Wang, say the information in the report is not enough. Wang has said dangerous particles about one-30th the diameter of a human hair can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause a variety of health complica- tions. Tranchemontagne said he has never seen an actual report based on testing from the proposed site from Wang. Compared to the number of vehicles that drive over Route 40 each day, about 13,000, and the number of vehicles that drive over neighboring Route 3, about 86,000, Tranchemontagne said Newport Materials' 62 to 75 trucks per day is "just a drop in the bucket." "No matter how you stack it up, it's just not credible to argue our trucks are going to have an im- pact on residents' health," he said. "People should be concerned. This is where they live. But at some point, you have to look at the facts and the data presented by the experts." The plant -- proposed for an industrial zone next to an existing rock quarry -- is expected to produce up to 1,000 tons of asphalt per day. Town officials have estimated it will also generate 75,000 to 100,000 in an- nual tax revenue for Westford. The Westford Board of Health and Planning Board are still waiting for more information on hazardous air pollutants and the impacts of emissions to sensitive populations who live nearby the proposed site. In the meantime, Chelmsford Selectman Eric Dahlberg said he's throwing his full support behind residents and has contacted the town's state legislators about the issue. State. Rep. Jim Arciero, D-Westford, said he and Sen. Steve Panagiotakos, D-Lowell, are sending a peti- tion they both received from residents to the Westford Planning Board. Panagiotakos represents Westford; Arciero represents Westford and parts of Chelmsford. The Chelmsford Board of Selectmen has also sent a letter voicing its concerns to Westford officials. "They (Newport Materials) can put up all the filters and masking agents in the world, but there is still going to be fine-particle pollution coming from the plant," Dahlberg said. "I trust Westford offi- cials will look at long-term health effects over the dollar." The Westford Planning Board will discuss the issue at its next meeting, scheduled for July 20.
  7. 7. TOWN TALK with DENNIS READY Dennis Ready talks with North Chelmsford resident Joe Ready about the proposed Asphalt plant on the Westford/Chelmsford border CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO Chelmsford Police Chief James Murphy talks with Dennis Ready about the sex offender registry and the Chelmsford police policy con- cerning offenders who work and live in the town. CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO LINKS FROM THE SHOW
  8. 8. Board to North Water District: That's more like it By Rita Savard, 06/25/2009 CHELMSFORD -- Plans for a $7.8 million water treatment plant in North Chelmsford are picking up steam, as tensions dissolved last night over project details. While the Planning Board didn't approve the North Chelmsford Water District's site-plan proposal, the board -- which gave the district an ultimatum at the previous meeting -- said last night's presentation seemed less like deja vu, and more like what they have been requesting. "The process resulted in an improved project," said the town's Community Development Director Evan Be- lansky. During the Planning Board's last meeting on May 27, members showed their frustration with the district, saying officials had failed to deliver a detailed proposal for eight months. The biggest problem, said Planning Board member Jim Lane, was that the district still hadn't proved it acquired official access to the site. "If you don't have access to a site, you don't have anything," Lane had said. Before launching into last night's lengthy public hearing, Chairman George Zaharoolis told North Water officials he expected a "full presentation from beginning to end, from top to bottom." "Anything less than that, and this board will not be happy," he said. Paul Howard, a consulting engineer for the North Water District, was armed with reports, posters and blueprints, and gave a presentation trying to touch on all of the Planning Board's questions. Howard said the district has worked hard trying to attain an easement from National Grid, which owns the only parcel an access road can be built upon. National Grid has finally approved access for a payment of $15,000. But the North Water District is still waiting for project approval before it pays the utility. Howard said the district didn't want to pay the utility company, and then have the project denied. But there was still a push from neighbors, who remain unsatisfied. Attorney Doug Hausler, who represents a group of water customers that live next door to the site of the pro- posed plant, hammered North Water officials with several questions, including asking if National Grid could put something in writing about the easement. Hausler questioned why the access road couldn't be farther away from neighboring homes. Planning Board member Ann McGuigan told Hausler that request was "not even reasonable." McGuigan who cracked down on North Water officials at a previous meeting, said the Planning Board has "harped" on the district to get an easement. "They have done due diligence," she said. "Whether we like it or not, they've done what's required." Zaharoolis said the board wanted to take time to draft its decision, which would include a list of conditions. Among those conditions, were an emergency site-plan review, a guarantee North Water would place trees in front of neighboring houses as a buffer, and an official easement filed with the Registry of Deeds. "I felt it went well," said North Water Superintendent Bruce Harper. "We'll do whatever we have to do to meet (The Planning Board's) request." The Planning Board will take up the issue at its next meeting on July 22.
  9. 9. Is it the end for Aspen Apartments? By Chloe Gotsis/Staff Writer /THE BILLERICA MINUTEMAN Wed Jun 24, 2009 BILLERICA, MASS. - The Past: In early December representatives from K and K developers came before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for the first public hearing on the 672-unit, 55-acre affordable housing complex. In the six months since then, residents from Billerica and Chelmsford have criticized the project for its immense size, traffic impacts and sewer hookups. Town officials including the Traffic Committee and members of the ZBA found fault with the $3 million price tag for the traffic impacts from the development. At the May public hearing the developers said they will contribute up to $735,000. The Present: The ZBA closed the public hearing for Aspen Apartments at its Wednesday, June 17, meeting. Both sides including the town’s engineering consultant, Nitsch engineering, presented its summaries for recommendations on the project. Zoning Board members asked Eli Pechthold, developer for New Jersey-based Garden Homes, about the possibility of reducing the number of units. Pechthold said he will look into it, but the decision of the future of Aspen now is in the hands of the board. The Future: The ZBA has 40 days from its meeting on June 17 to issue a decision on the proposed development. The ZBA could deny the project or rec- ommend it at a lower unit count or with recommendations for changes. ******************************* ZBA OK’s Aspen Apartments Wed Jul 01, 2009 THE BILLERICA MINUTEMAN BILLERICA, MASS. - In an effort to bring revenue to the town and help fill a state quota for affordable housing, a divided Zoning Board of Appeals voted this week to approve permits for a sprawling apartment complex on Rangeway Road. After more than six months of hearings filled with criticism for the project from town boards and abutters, the zon- ing board voted Tuesday, June 30, to allow a scaled-down version of the plan. Four of the five members approved 348 units in eight buildings at Aspen Apartments, slimmed down from 672 units and 14 buildings. The develop- ment will have an emergency access on State Street in Chelmsford, but the primary access is a 35-foot driveway near Curriculum Associates on Rangeway Road. Throughout the public hearing process, town departments and committees raised concerns with the level of traf- fic, sewer and drainage and cost the development would bring to the town. Attorneys for K and K Developers Inc. said they are pleased with the board’s decision and understand the re- duced unit number. “We think the approval and review process was done in a very thorough and professional manner,” said Meredith West, attorney for the Freeman and Davis law firm representing K and K. “The board acted responsibly with their roles to create housing. We are very comfortable with the 384 units.” But Dan Hill, an attorney for more than 50 Chelmsford abutters, said while he is pleased with the reduction in units, he is disappointed the board chose to ignore the advice and warning signs from their consultants. “The biggest disappointment is the way the builder left it up to the developer to chose where
  10. 10. those buildings are going to be,” said Hill. “There won’t be any further opportunity for them to comment on the redesign. Therefore the impact to the residents of Chelmsford still remains un - resolved.” Hill added that while the board is convinced it could bring revenue to the town, he thinks there is a chance it could be an expense. ZBA member Ralph McKenna opposed the permit. He said throughout the process the board was looking at a permit for 672 units and it was only 20 minutes before the last hearing, on June 17, that the lower number was suggested. McKenna said he is not convinced the location is the right place for the development. “Everything I saw was that this was a very poor place to put this project and why with all the warnings from con- sultants we went along with this just baffles me,” said McKenna. The state’s controversial affordable housing law, Chapter 40B, allows new developments to bypass local planning and zoning laws if the 25 percent of the project is deemed affordable for families earning 70 to 80 percent of the town’s median income. Towns with more than 10 percent of their housing stock deemed affordable are exempt. The new development, 96 of the units will be affordable, but evenly dispersed and with no substantial difference in appearance. The board’s lengthy decision came with 49 conditions of approval and 22 waivers of town and state bylaws, in- cluding alterations to the planned size, draining, noise management and traffic management plans. The decision also alleviates the burden from the town of trash removal, on site parking and snow plowing. The board also waived zoning bylaws for construction in an industrial zone because the project is residential. The developer is also responsible for installing traffic lights, estimated to cost about $1 million, at the intersection of Rangeway Road and Route 129. “We really tried to spread out the impact,” said ZBA Chairwoman Doris Pearson. “We think we’ve made a good decision.” The board has 14 days to file the decision with the town clerk’s office. The applicant or abutters have 20 days to appeal the decision if they wish to do so, before the applicant begins filing for construction. Power Plant Buzz Billerica bylaw bounced By Chris Camire, 06/22/2009 BILLERICA -- The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office has annulled one of the town's newest bylaws, ruling that a measure seeking to regulate power plants is "inconsistent" with state law. But resident Jeanne Landers, who first pitched the bylaw to Town Meeting last month, said she may try to revive it. "I have a hard time agreeing with that decision," said a disappointed Landers. "It just doesn't seem right to me. I might bring it back to Town Meeting but I want to make sure it would pass as a zoning bylaw. The bylaw should have been adopted as a zoning change rather than a general bylaw, Assistant Attorney General Kelli
  11. 11. Gunagan wrote on behalf of Attorney General Martha Coakley last week. The bylaw states that various town departments must review 17 criteria before an electric-generating power plant can be built in Billerica. It passed, 97-77, at Special Town Meeting in December. The proposed bylaw would authorize local boards to take action if an electric-generating power plant created a threat to public safety or the environment. Authorizing local boards to regulate construction and siting of power plants is a classic example of "land regulation which must be adopted by way of a zoning bylaw rather than a general bylaw," Gunagan wrote in her decision. When the bylaw passed at Town Meeting, Landers said she hoped it would encourage town leaders to take a closer look at the proposal for the Billerica Energy Center, a $200 million, 348-megawatt, natural-gas-fired power plant proposed for Bil- lerica Avenue in North Billerica, near the borders of Chelmsford, Lowell and Tewksbury. The power plant has also drawn opposition from a vocal group of residents. Billerica Watchers, a citizens activist group formed to stop the power plant from being built, has argued that it will pose a health risk. In a written statement, Billerica Watchers president Ed Camplese said his group would continue to show that Billerica doesn't have the resources to support "the type of facility proposed as the Billerica Energy Center." "The legal dispute over a simple bylaw, which does nothing beyond require discussions among Billerica's reviewing boards according to Billerica Town Counsel Costello, verifies (our) concerns," Camplese said in the statement. Town Counsel Patrick Costello said the bylaw would create an advisory committee to study the power plant, but would do little else. When the bylaw was first proposed, attorneys for DG Clean Power, the plant's proponent, took steps to freeze the zoning at the site of the power plant, according to its chief executive, Joe Fitzpatrick. "We all knew what (the bylaw) was about -- preventing the power plant from being built," Fitzpatrick said. "The burden is back on Billerica Watchers to do it properly, if that's what they want to do." Fitzpatrick also called the attorney general's decision a "pyrrhic victory," due to the fact that the in-service date of the power plant has been delayed because of dropping demand for electricity throughout New England. DG Clean Power also withdrew its application for two wetlands permits in May. The company plans to submit a new appli- cation in November that will address concerns raised by the town's Conservation Commission. The state's Energy Facilities Siting Board issued a permit for the power plant in February. The next phase of permitting must go through the Billerica Board of Health, Conservation Commission and Planning Board on the local level, and the Department of Environmental Protection and Executive Office of Environmental Affairs at the state level.
  12. 12. From a dream, Chelmsford community garden sprouts By Rita Savard, 06/21/2009 CHELMSFORD -- Life can rise from ashes. After working the Sunny Meadow Farm for 50 years, not even a raging fire could destroy the seeds Walter and Betty Lewis had planted. "Walter worked the land his whole life," said Bernie Ready of Chelmsford. "He believed land could bring a community together." Thirteen years after Walter's death, his land is still linking the people of Chelmsford, as he would have wanted it. The new Walter F. Lewis Community Garden is taking shape off Robin Hill Road, and giving resi- dents a chance to grow something more than the usual garden variety. "Coming here is a chance to get to know your neighbors," said Sue Daw- son, whose sunflowers are now pushing three inches from the ground. "The people who garden here have become fast friends." The Lewises, said Ready, would have been happy to see their former farm being shared by the community. Because community "was every- thing" to Walter and Betty Lewis. The couple moved to Chelmsford and purchased the land along Robin Hill Road in the early 1940s. It was halfway between their hometowns -- Betty was from Lunenberg, Walter from Andover. Walter only knew farming. One of nine children, he was the son of a vegetable farmer. "He grew up in the middle of the Great Depression," said daughter Joan Crandall, of Chelmsford. "My father didn't grow up with money, and getting an education was very important to him." Walter put himself through college, earning a bachelor's degree at the former Lowell Technological Institute, now UMass Lowell, and then re- ceived a master's degree at the University of Connecticut. He armed himself with the means to get a white-collar job early on, Crandall said. But, "he loved farming," Crandall said. "It's what made him happiest." Walter and Betty also filled their days with volunteer and charity work. The couple were deeply involved in their church, Central Congre- gation, and were active in nonprofit organizations, including Habi- tat for Humanity and Heifer International. When their church wanted to sponsor a Cambodian family who es- caped the Khmer Rouge genocide, the Lewises donated their land. Now in their third generation in the United States, the Chey family continues to farm the property today. Walter and Betty didn't know exactly how deep their own connection to the community was rooted until their darkest day. On Dec. 5, 1970, their dairy barn caught fire when hay was accidentally ignited. Flames reached up to 80 feet.
  13. 13. The Westford Fire Department was called in to help battle the roaring blaze. A 29-year-old Westford fire- fighter, Richard St. Onge died, succumbing to smoke inhalation. St. Onge left behind a wife and a new- born. The Lewises were devastated. But seeds planted long ago were not for- gotten. People brought food and comfort. Tools and supplies. Hundreds of help- ing hands for Walter and Betty. All of Chelmsford seemed to turn out, remembers Joan. And farmers from across the state came knocking, offering their services. A new barn was built. "My parents loved their community, and with all the help that came pouring in, it was obvious the commu- nity loved them back," she said. A year after the barn fire, Walter officially retired from farming and started a new career as director of animal health for the state. He and Joan started a home building company, Sunny Meadow Homes. Betty died in 1990, at age 75. Walter followed six years later. He was 83. In 2007, the Lewises' grandchildren sold the land to Chelmsford for $1.5 million, under the condition it remain open space. The 22.5 acres are now used for farming and agriculture. And new this year, a community garden. It pre- sented an opportunity for someone like Dawson, whose own yard is shaded with trees, to grow a real gar- den. Fifty plots sit side-by-side, each with their own sig- nature stamp from gardeners. Raised flower beds. A mailbox that holds tools. A winding pathway. In each plot where green stems are sprouting up, Dawson said the Lewis legacy continues. You can also see it in the friendships that grow. "This is really a social place," she says. "To think, in this tiny piece of land, you can really find so much joy. This is what the Lewises were all about." For more information on the Walter F. Lewis Community Garden, contact Phil or Deb Jones at 978-256-8065.
  14. 14. Chelmsford farmer's market set to open July 9 By Michelle Brosnahan Wed Jul 01, 2009 CHELMSFORD - Everywhere, it seems, farmers markets are in bloom. “Farmers markets have taken off in communities in this year,” said Donna Parlee, who runs Parlee Farm on Pine Hill Road with her husband Henry Parlee. “We got a lot of letters from other farmers markets asking us to partici- pate this year.” Parlee’s customers have already started canning, she said, making the best of the summer bounty while it’s in season. The rain has been good for the blueberries, she said, and the fruit on their 750 blueberries bushes are “humongous.” Former Chelmsford Selectman Susan Gates and Town Meeting representative Peggy Dunn originated the idea of a farmer’s market for Chelmsford in 2008, after attending farmers’ markets in towns across New England. (Gates and Dunn, longtime friends, work together often; for example, as the driving force behind Chelmsford’s Winter- fest.) The first market opens Thursday July 9 at 2 p.m. Dunn will ring a large old-style schoolmaster’s bell to get it started, and the event will also feature a bagpipe band. A booth at the market will offer information about the advan- tages of eating locally. “You remember that we used to have ‘crook neck’ squash, but it has now been bred so that it is straight, and easier to put in a box.” Dunn said. The same methods that make supermarket tomatoes a uniform size, color and shape make them more attractive, she added, but come at the expense of flavor. “There is really nothing, nothing, like a fresh, locally grown tomato, still warm from the heat of the field,” Dunn said. Phil Jones of Jones Farm said shoppers should expect radishes, basil, Swiss chard, lettuce and raspberries, and more choices later as summer wears on. “We have 300 tomato plants in the greenhouse,” Jones said, “they’ll be ready soon, and we’ve got some beauti- ful tomatoes on them.” This will be Jones Farm’s first farmers’ market, and he looks forward to getting Chelmsford residents together. Donna Parlee agrees. “The farmers’ market for me gives me a chance to see people I haven’t seen all year long,” Parlee said, “so I re- ally enjoy connecting all the people.” Gates and Dunn spent the last year navigating the process of creating the farmer’s market with the state and the town. “We met so many people already running markets who were so friendly, helpful and generous, really great spir- its,” Dunn said. Dunn said Town Manager Paul Cohen and his staff, Richard Day and the people at the Board of Health, Chelms- ford’s police and fire departments, and everyone at Town Hall were invaluable in the effort, she said, and the con- gregations at the Central Baptist Church and First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church Chelmsford were both quite helpful generous with their time and space. “This has been a very positive experience,” Dunn said, “and I already consider it a success.” Everywhere, it seems, farmers markets are in bloom. Local growers provide produce that’s fresher more nutri- tious and better-tasting. People save money, meet their neighbors and support the farms and open space and benefit from field-ripened local produce really tastes better.
  15. 15. From: Leslie & Deborah, Stand for Children HELP DELIVER HEALTH BENEFIT REFORM NOW Tuesday, June 30, 2009 Dear friend, Send a message! Despite the Governor’s signature yesterday on the state’s $27 billion FY2010 budget, the leg- islature still has important unfinished business. From transportation to pensions to ethics, “re- form” has been the buzzword of this year’s legislative session. But despite the efforts of the Municipal Relief Commission, the legislature has not yet delivered on municipal health benefit reforms - a critical issue that could save $100 million per year for cities and towns. Please send a message TODAY to Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo urging them to deliver this much-needed reform. Send a message right now! Schools and public services will be ravaged by budget cuts next year as communities struggle to cope with a 28% cut to local aid. Yet most communities will continue to pay more for their employees' health benefits than the state pays for its employees under the state-run Group In- surance Commission (GIC). With municipal and school budgets hemorrhaging, it’s irresponsi- ble to ignore this opportunity for meaningful reform and savings. Ask legislative leadership to break the stalemate between unions and management and focus on what’s most important: our children and our schools. Our communities simply can’t afford another year of double-digit health benefit increases when there’s a lower-cost alternative out there. Speak up right now by sending a message at! Standing with you for children, Leslie Nicholson Massachusetts Executive Director Deborah Brown Massachusetts Policy Director Stand for Children 77 Rumford Ave., Suite #2, Waltham, MA 02453 781.891.1300 or Nat'l Office Toll Free 1.800.663.4032 © Copyright 2007
  16. 16. EXTRA, EXTRA ** ** ** *** ** ** *** ** *** ** ** *** ** ** *** ** ** *** ** ** COFFEE TALK Submitted by SEAN SCANLON - Board of Selectmen Roy, Would you be kind enough to add an announcement to the next edition? I will be hosting "office hours" every other Wednesday, starting July 8th, from 5:30-6:30 (7 if needed) at the Java Room (with the exception of the month of August). Please feel free to stop by with questions, comments, or just to say hello. Additionally, I would like anyone who may have ideas that would save the town and/or taxpayers money to contact me either by email, facebook, phone, or at my "office hour" sessions. I welcome feedback at any time. Thank you, Sean ****************************************************************************************** Submitted by Gail Kruglak - Town Hall Utilization Committee member The Town Hall Utilization Study Committee / final Public Input Session on Thursday, July 9 The Town Hall Utilization Study Committee will be holding its final Public Input Session on Thursday, July 9 from 7 to 9 PM at the Congregational Church in North Chelmsford. Any ideas/suggestions for the future uses of the Old Town Hall and the North Town hall are sought. If you are not able to make the public input session, bring your ideas to one of our regularly scheduled meetings. The deadline for input is August 5th Local groups interested in using the Old Town Hall in Chelmsford Center prior to the completion of this study are encour- aged to contact Tricia at Town Manager Paul Cohen's office to check availability and fee schedule. The building is avail- able for immediate use. Details are as follows: Schedule Rooms through Town Manager's office (Tricia) Fees paid at Town Manager's Office (to cover buildings expenses (utility, custodial/cleaning) Room fees are as follows(per use not per hour): - Auditorium $50 Capacity with chairs is 250, w/tables and chairs is 150 - Lower Room: $35 with use of kitchen $50 Capacity: 190 people, w/tables and chairs 90 - Rooms 1, 6, & 8 $25 - Gym at Town Hall $100 Weekend rentals are subject to custodial availability. A weekend custodial fee will apply at $25/hour - 4 hour minimum. Thank you for helping us to get the word out. Gail Kruglak ***************************************************************************************************************************************** Friends of Music bottle and can drive July 11 Chelmsford Independent Fri Jun 19, 2009 CHELMSFORD - Turn your clean, returnable bottles and cans into music at the Chelmsford Friends of Music's next bottle and can drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, July 11, behind the McCarthy School on 250 North Road in Chelmsford. All proceeds benefit the music programs at the Chelmsford Public Schools through scholarships, instrument purchases, and competition fees.
  17. 17. Public can test waters at Hart Pond again By Rita Savard, 07/04/2009 CHELMSFORD -- First it was the law that kept Mike Najarian from water skiing in his own backyard. But now that Hart Pond is officially open to the public -- including motorized water crafts -- the only thing holding Najarian back is the endless rain. "It's a nice a place to go that's close to home," said Najarian, 27, of Littleton Road. "And it's pretty cool thinking I won't have to sit in traffic if I want to go on the water after a long day of work." Hart Pond opened last week, also opening a Chelmsford swimming hole to motorboats. Town Meeting approved acquiring the formerly private beach on Pond Street off Route 27, from George Barnes and South Village Improvement Association in the spring. Town Manager Paul Cohen said while there are no restrictions on motorized boats on the pond, there are currently no provisions for launching boats by trailers. "The boat dock is not in use so you'll most likely see smaller boats on the pond, whatever people can carry across the beach and into the water," Cohen said. The 91-acre pond joins the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail -- a 25-mile recreational trail connect- ing Lowell to Framingham that's now under construction. The first construction phase of the trail, set to be completed at the end of August, is a 6.8 mile stretch beginning on the Lowell-Chelmsford line at the Cross Point tower and ending in Westford. Once the trail is completed, it will become the longest in the state along with the Cape Cod recreational trail, also 25 miles. "As a part of this trail, Hart Pond is yet another piece of open space land the public can enjoy for recreational uses," Cohen said. Najarian said he's looking forward to testing the wa- ters. "Now if it will only stop raining," he said.
  18. 18. QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Ev'ry heart beats true 'neath the Red, White and Blue, ~George M. Cohan A “Dandy” of a clip CLICK HERE If you have friends, family or neighbors who you think would like to be added to this news update list just have them drop us a line at For Back Issues of the In-Town Report CLICK HERE :