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Selectmen discuss Minuteman building plan; one expresses doubt on enrollment forecast

Two selectmen and the town manager discussed Minuteman High School's expensive building plans Thursday, Feb. 12, and a board member expressed clear doubt about the school administration's enrollment hopes.

Minteman High School logo

Board of Selectmen logo, Jan. 23, 2013Selectman Dan Dunn, who attended the Feb. 6 meeting at which a range of costs estimates were first made public, called the administration's projection of 620 students "wildly optimistic."

In response to a query from Selectman Kevin Greeley, Dunn said Minuteman enrollment as of Dec. 10 was 303. Higher enrollment numbers mean a larger assessment from 16 participating towns, depending
on the number of students attending from each town. More students imrpve the school's ability to pay for a project.

Dunn, who attended the Minuteman meeting with Joseph Curro Jr. and manager Adam Chapdelaine, said the administration predicts an enrollment increase of more than 50 percent. "I just don't buy it,"
he said.

The estimated district share of a new Minuteman High School, in Lexington, ranges from $79.6 million to $105.9 million, depending on how it is rebuilt. The district share assumes that the state
will cover at least 40 percent of the project. Minuteman officials also released a lengthy statement suggesting what would happen if no state Building Authority funds are involved. Read it here >>

Dunn also discussed the complications with the regional agreement. Among other things, changing the agreement requires a unanimous vote of 16 representatives from member town. Right now, six of the reps have expressed doubt about the costs of the building plans.

"I did not walk out of that meeting thinking we'd turn six towns into yeses,." Dunn said. "We'll see."

Deadline extended, complications discussed

He added that the state School Building Authority has extended a deadline for Minuteman, which passed in January, to July.

Curro, who three times called the Feb. 6 meeting "lively," said that representative from some town have expressed an interest in getting out of the Minuteman agreement but have not "stepped up" to make the necessary moves to do so.

Chapdelaine talked about the difficulty involved among the six towns that appear to oppose the building plan. "They can’t speak for their communities," he said, adding that they find it hard to put 

in writing what each thinks. That makes it tough to persuade the Town Meetings involved.

The manager described the situation as "a back-to-the future space-time continuum" in which events may appear to be about to happen, and they do not.

A further irony: "Most of the six want to send their students to Minuteman," Chapdelaine said,

Curro said there is a "bull's-eye on us [Arlington]" because of the strong stand the town has taken to defend its students who attend Minuteman, the largest number among all members.

Meter payments suspended

In other business, during the 35-minute meeting, which had been postponed to Feb. 12, because of snow, the selectmen voted, 5-0, to require no payment for meters in town lots while snow is cleaned up.

It was clear from discussion that selectman took the step because the meters are not working in the cold weather.

Curro asked whether the meters could have hoods put over them, and Chapdelaine agreed.

Regarding the historic run of snowfalls this winter, Chapdelaine thanked public works employees "immensely," as well as residents for their patience.

Dunn, which called the snow "unprecedented," said he wore his Red Sox tie to mark the figurative "first day of spring," the day the team's trailer leaves for Fort Myers, Fla.

Selectmen Diane Mahon also praised the DPW and said they are "running on caffeine."

To a woman with whom Greeley spoke who wanted police to issue more tickets, he cited the 120 miles of roads in town and 217,000 households, numbers illustrating how tough the job of the police is.

Other board votes

Selectmen also voted unanimously to support:

-- A no-interest $750,000 water bond issue, to be paid off in 10 years, presented by Town Treasurer Stephen Gilligan;

-- The Feb. 28 Town Hall panel discussion titled "Unequal Justice," requested by Miriam Stein of the Vision 2002 Diversity Task Group;

-- "Books in Bloom," an annual events at Robbins Library set for 7 p.m. Feb. 27, requested by Patsy Kraemer;

-- No change to parking at Chestnut Street, following the recommendation of Chief Fred Ryan, which is below.

In November, Ann Murray asked selectmen:

"I have a Massage Therapy Practice at 9 Chestnut St., and we are having parking issues. My practice is within Archambault Chiropractic and Well ness Center. Myself and Dr. Archambault's 2 employees and our patients and clients do not have ample parking spaces. We are asking that we be allowed to park across from our office along side Saint Agnes Church. Many people park there illegally for various occasions, picking up kids, farmer's market or attending 7 am Mass, etc. and there is plenty of room for cars to go by.

"I recently got a ticket and both the woman that work here started receiving tickets while parked on our side of Chestnut beyond our driveway heading towards the dentist office. Us and patients and others have been parking there forever without getting tickets. When Keefe's funeral home has there no parking signs out for a wake or funeral that leaves us know where to park. The municipal lot machines are not user friendly and I have had clients get tickets because machine was broke etc. I know there is a perking proposal in the works for Arlington, I am a resident and business owner and would like to see the business to be able to have parking for customers. We have a 4 car lot and so many patients are sitting in front with hazard lights on waiting for someone to leave which could cause traffic flow issues and or accidents on chestnut!"

A Nov. 19 memo from Ryan says:

"We currently do not recommend any changes to the existing Chestnut Street parking restrictions. The street is often heavily congested during the weekdays and parking on both sides exacerbates the problem. It is recommended that visitors using the chiropractic business, like other businesses in the area, continue to utilize the Russel/Common [Municipal) Lot.

"It should be noted that increased patrols in the area began after complaints were received due to a lack of enforcement of the posted signs. And while there are known issues with the meters in the lot, the Parking Officers have been instructed [per the Parking Clerk's Office) that as long as one meter is functioning and accepting currency that users of the lot are required to pay. There are signs posted stating that meters are located at both entrances and the Parking Officers check the functionality of both meters several times a day.

"If one meter is not functioning, they put a notice on it directing users to the other one. Finally, before any ticket is issued, they are checked again and if both are not functioning, they then give users the maximum three-hour allotment starting from that point before coming back again to check for compliance. Hopefully, the matter with the meters will soon resolve itself as they are tentatively scheduled to be replaced sometime next year." 

Feb. 12, 2015: Open house for students parents March 5

Minuteman assessments explained >> 

Feb. 10, 2015: First look at cost of a new Minuteman High: $79m to $106m

This news summary was published Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.

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