Ottoson students urge composting. / Paul Schlichtman photoOttoson students urge composting. / Paul Schlichtman photo

Arlington High School student Henry Fenollosa. / Paul Schlichtman photoArlington High School student Henry Fenollosa. / Paul Schlichtman photo

UPDATED May 23: The seventh session of the 2023 annual Town Meeting, on Monday, May 15, voted all remaining 25 articles. By way of contrast, the 2022 Town Meeting, held over Zoom, lasted 13 meetings and ended June 8.

The previous day, Sunday, May 14, Town Moderator Greg Christiana announced that Monday's meeting was to begin with a motion to skip to Article 56 -- an appropriation for a pilot compost-collection program -- so that the Ottoson Middle School students who developed the article could present it to the meeting. That article was approved.

After that, the meeting returned to the sequence starting at Article 41, an appropriation for transportation infrastructure.

At adjournment, the meeting had finished 73 articles, according to the Town Meeting tracker. That included Community Preservation Act funding (Article 46), which includes money to plan a mountain-bike track at Hill's Hill.

Here is a summary of those articles, focusing first on work from students -- at OMS and at Arlington High School.

Article 56 Appropriation/Subsidized Compost Collection

In a vote of 207-4, Town Meeting will appropriate $5,000 to subsidize the collection of compost for Mass. Ave. restaurants. The town manager plans to implement this program, which was recommended by middle-school students.

Five Ottoson students presented their request:

  • Summer Schadinger said, “This composting program for Arlington restaurants seeks to make a positive change in our community. We propose a one-year pilot program, with incentives for food scrap diversion.”
  • Alexandra Lay discussed the environmental benefits: “Only 4 percent of restaurant food waste is composted, and 90 percent is compostable. Waste incineration emits toxins and pollutants that harm local air quality. Composting breaks down into nontoxic components. This will advance Arlington’s Net-Zero 2050 Action Plan.”
  • Foster Woodberry said this program could have a large environmental impact due to the high volume of food waste town residents could divert. “Restaurants also benefit ― 60 percent of households prefer dining at zero-waste restaurants.”
  • Eleanor Rockwood discussed the pest control benefits. “Composting bins do not attract rodents.”
  • Anne Marie Spilker said that by subsidizing 16 restaurants, Arlington could divert approximately 500,000 pounds of food waste in just one year.

Elaine Crowder (19), last year’s rodenticide-article proponent, was “thrilled to see this article; it will keep food out of dumpsters that are porous. This kind of creative solution can help Arlington with rodent control.”

Adam Badik (5), whose family now composts and generates a lot less trash, said this is “a great way to get restaurants started with composting.”

Article 49 Appropriation/Community Preservation Fund

In a 193-9 vote, Town Meeting agreed to appropriate approximately $2.9 million from the Community Preservation Fund for eligible community preservation projects, including:

  • 10 Sunnyside Ave: $500,000
  • Affordable housing trust fund: $370,000
  • Leasing Differential Program (homeless population): $30,000
  • Menotomy Manor windows, Phase 2: $400,000
  • Hauser Building roof replacement: $120,000
  • Hill’s Hill bike trails: $400,000
  • Invasive-vegetation removal: $12,000
  • Millbrook preservation: $120,000
  • 21 Pond Lane feasibility study: $15,000
  • No Name Brook preservation: $20,000
  • Signage: $2,500
  • Arlington Friends of the Drama building, including mechanical systems and exterior work: $187,750
  • Cyrus Dallin Art Museum document digitization: $71,880
  • Foot of the Rocks Battlefield Memorial: $112,000
  • Jason Russell House, continued preservation: $73,570
  • Town Hall preservation, Phase 1, clock tower: $385,000

Community Preservation Act Committee Chair Clarissa Rowe (4) said the committee focuses on historic preservation, open space and recreation, and community housing, specifically “open spaces that have been neglected for a long time. We’re getting a lot of bang for our buck.”

Hill’s Hill not excluded

Michael Brown (17) made a motion to vote no on the $400,000 for Hill’s Hill’s mountain bike trails. “Kids and others have been mountain biking there and nothing’s stopping them," he said. "There’s no need to lure consultants to change or fix something that works well now. Let kids be creative; it’s good for them to figure out how to do things themselves and not rely on consultants.” 

However, Town Meeting voted, 77-134, against excluding Hill’s Hill’s bike trails from the article.

AHS student Henry Fenollosa, who is also AHS Cycling Club leader, said that Hill’s Hill’s bike trails would be designed to coexist with the current walking and running trails, which are made mainly of dirt and use the land’s natural slope. “Mountain biking is a quickly growing sport, and Hill’s Hill could be a new place for bikers to test their skills. Bike trails support Arlington’s Open Space Recreation Plan. They also create a safe place for kids to exercise and meet with friends, and teaches them to be good students of the environment.”

Brian McBride, Save Hill’s Hill Committee member, recommended that Town Meeting vote yes. “Outdoor recreation is good for youth and other ages connecting with nature, and Hill’s Hill’s wooded, natural environment would be preserved. The bike trails are a good idea, but the pump track is harmful to the habitat and land use. This is a good compromise between preservation versus recreation.”

Asia Kepka (1) also expressed concern about pump tracks. “This project appears very large, involved and expensive, and I’m concerned about the ongoing maintenance. Pump tracks have very limited usage; they can’t be used in the winter and must be rebuilt in the spring after the rains. We already have facilities that need a lot of maintenance and need to focus on what we have before building something that we don’t know how it will maintain.”

Park and Recreation Commission Director Joe Connelly said that volunteers would help with maintenance.

Article 41 Appropriation/Transportation Infrastructure Fund

Town Meeting voted, 210-4, to appropriate approximately $18,000 received from the Commonwealth Transportation Infrastructure Fund to address the impact of transportation network services on municipal roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure. The state collects this money from rideshare companies, such as Uber and Lyft, and then distributes it back to the town. 

Town Manager Sandy Pooler said these funds are used primarily for sidewalk repairs, which can be done in conjunction with road repairs.

Article 42 Appropriation/Financing of Construction or Reconstruction of Sewers and Sewerage Facilities

By a 211-5 margin, Town Meeting voted to appropriate $800,000 to finance the construction or reconstruction of sewers and sewerage facilities. 

Article 43 Appropriation/Financing of Construction or Reconstruction of Water Mains and Water Facilities

Voting 207-7, Town Meeting approved $1.3 million to finance the construction or reconstruction of water mains and water facilities. 

Article 45 Appropriation/Committees and Commissions

In a majority voice vote, Town Meeting approved $104,900 to be expended under the direction of various town committees, commissions and boards, and to determine how the money shall be raised. This warrant article helps the town’s senior citizens.

Article 46 Appropriation/Town Celebrations and Events

Town Meeting approved, in a majority voice vote, to spend $40,100 for celebrations on Patriots Day, Memorial Day, Town Day and Veterans Day. An extra $25,000 was appropriated this year for Arlington’s 250th anniversary. 

Article 47 Appropriation/Miscellaneous

In a majority voice vote, Town Meeting will appropriate $10,810 to replenish the legal-defense fund. This money pays for medical expenses for retired police officers and firefighters.

Article 48 Appropriation/Water Bodies' Fund

Town Meeting approved, in a majority voice vote, to appropriate $50,000 to Arlington’s water-bodies' fund for maintaining, treating and overseeing all town water bodies. 

Article 51 Appropriation/Pension Adjustment for Former 25-Year/Accidental Disability Employees

Town Meeting voted unanimously, 204-0, to adopt the state law that appropriates Arlington to pay up to 50 percent of the maximum salary for retired town employees who’ve worked 25 or more years, or are disabled.

Article 52 Appropriation/Opioid Settlement Fund

Town Meeting also voted unanimously to appropriate $148,139 received by the town from the Statewide Opioid Settlements to fund opioid prevention, harm reduction, and treatment and recovery programs. 

Article 53 Appropriation/Reevaluation of Real Property

In a 193-8 vote, Town Meeting agreed to appropriate $100,000 to reevaluate all town properties. 

Board of Assessors' Chair Gordon Jamieson (12) said this is a certificate process required by the Department of Revenue. “We’re 5 years into a 10-year process. Five years from now, there’ll be another reassessment.” 

Article 57 Appropriation/Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPED) Trust Fund

In a unanimous vote, 200-0, Town Meeting agreed to accept $1,412,454 into the OPED trust fund an appropriation of funds that the town deems advisable to administer and fund its OPEB obligations. This fund provides health and other benefits to retirees. 

Article 58 Transfer of Funds/Cemetery

In a unanimous voice vote, Town Meeting agreed to allocate $210,000 for the Cemetery Commission, and $75,000 for a mini-excavator, to maintain the town’s cemeteries. 

Article 59 Appropriation/Overlay Reserve

In a unanimous voice vote, Town Meeting determined that the funds from last year’s overlay reserve surplus accounts are no longer needed and can be made available for appropriation. 

Article 60 Appropriation/Fiscal Stability Stabilization Fund

In a 200-2 vote, Town Meeting agreed to appropriate $588,000 as needed from the Fiscal Stability Stabilization Fund, which is money raised by overrides, to help the town assessor determine the tax rate.

Article 61 Appropriation/Long-Term Stabilization Fund

In a unanimous voice vote, Town Meeting now plans to appropriate $100,000 to the Long-Term Stabilization Fund. This fund is Arlington’s emergency fund, to protect the town’s position against loss and maintain its strong bond rating. 

Article 62 Use of Free Cash

Town Meeting voted 195-2 to authorize approximately $8 million to be borrowed from available treasury funds for the Board of Assessors to determine the fiscal 2024 tax rate.

Article 63 Resolution/File and Accept Grants with and from EOEEA for Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant Program

In a unanimous voice vote, Town Meeting endorsed a resolution to file and accept grants from the Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Environmental and Energy Appraisers (EOEEA) to improve Veterans Memorial Park in Arlington Center. 

Article 64 Resolution/State Extended Producer Responsibility and Bottle Bill Legislation

Town Meeting voted 170-11 to support advocacy by Zero Waste Arlington to pass legislation to reduce waste and shift end-use costs to the manufacturers of those costs. 

This will introduce the concept of diverting organics from the waste stream and keep blue bins clean. Zero Waste Arlington wants to incentivize, through legislation, products that are more durable and less toxic, tackling the waste issue from every angle and providing the environmental benefits of waste reduction.

Article 65 Resolution/My Body My Choice

Town Meeting unanimously voted no action on this article, which sought to resolve that people have a natural and innate authority over their own bodies.

Article 66 Resolution/Improve MBTA Service

In a majority voice vote, Town Meeting endorsed a resolution to urge the state to improve Arlington’s MBTA service. 

Paul Schlichtman (9) said, “We all have friends who want better T service.”

Article 67 Resolution/Affordable Housing Overlay

In a 129-45 vote, Town Meeting adopted a resolution affirming affordable housing overlay districts.

Select Board Chair Eric Helmuth said this warrant article is an important strategy in constructing affordable housing, which the board unanimously supports.

Guillermo Hamlin (14) also recommended this article be approved, in order to mitigate Arlington’s housing crisis.

However, Michael Ruderman (9) said that residents don’t know how an affordable-housing overlay district would work. “We have so little to go on for such an important impact on our housing stock.”

Article 69 Resolution/Change State Flag and Seal

Town Meeting voted 172-12 for a resolution to change Massachusetts’ state flag, official seal and motto.

Town Moderator Greg Christiana, quoting the resolution, said this decision will “better reflect our aspirations for harmonious and respectful relations between all people who now call Massachusetts home.”

Committee Reports

Town Meeting unanimously accepted reports from the Zero Waste Arlington and Tree Committees: 

  • Larry Slotnick (7), Zero Waste Arlington Committee co-chair, said the committee has had a busy year. “Last year, we passed a ban on single-use plastic bottles, which have a low recycling rate away from home and break down quickly when littered. Aluminum bottles and cans, which are more recyclable, have replaced plastic water bottles.” The committee is currently advocating for, planning and implanting water-bottle filling stations around town. “Restaurantgoers are now provided single-use plastic items only be request. We’re also tracking waste and recyclable-related legislation in the State House.”
  • Susan Stamps (3), Tree Committee member, said the committee continued the annual tree planting of 300 trees per year and that the tree warden tests every tree for gas before planting. 
Watch the May 15 meeting on ACMi:

As previously announced, resolutions (Articles 63 to 69) were allowed two speakers – one proponent and one opponent – plus proponents of any substantial subsidiary motions approved in advance, at the discretion of the moderator, the May 14 email said.

For resident petition resolutions, priority were given to the petitioner of the resolution in selecting the proponent, Christiana wrote. If no one wishes to speak against a resolution, then only the proponent will speak.

As the moderator previously announced, distribution of printed materials onto seats at Town Hall is no longer permitted. Fliers on seats tend to create more clutter and therefore more work during cleanup after the meeting, a May 14 email said.

Updates to the annotated warrant (amendments, substitute motions, and presentations or statements are linked at the bottom of each article in the Additional Materials section):

Article 44 – Tosti numbers on per-pupil expenditures cited during debate.

According to the Town Meeting tracker, 47 articles have been completed, and 25 remain.

A detailed summary of session six, held Wednesday, May 10, has been reported.

ACMi provides live coverage on the Government Channel (Comcast 22, RCN 614, Verizon 26) and streaming live at The locally based cable television station also typically will rebroadcast each session multiple times. 

See the Town Meeting dashboard >>

The Select Board and public discussed articles this spring: Round 1Round 2Artificial turfRound 3Round 4 and Round 5

The following reports are available:

2022 Annual Town Report 

Arlington Redevelopment Board

Select Board

Capital Planning Committee

CPA Committee

CDBG Report

Remote Participation Study Committee

Robbins Library update on ATM 2019, Article 38 

Arlington Public Schools FY24

Conservation Commission Water Bodies Report 

AHS Building Project Report

YourArlington's main 2023 Town Meeting link >> 

This initial news announcement was published Monday, May 15, 2023, based on information from the Town of Arlington and YourArlington archives. It was updated May 16, to report that the meeting has ended. The site at first reported that there was one article remaining; that was the editor's error. It was updated May 20, to add an ACMi video window. It was updated May 23, to add a news summary by YourArlington freeelancer Susan Gilbert plus photos by Town Meeting Member Paul Schlichtman.