2000 Board of Selectmen Annual Report
The Board of Selectmen would like to open this annual report by thanking fire chief Elmer Fitzgerald for his 36 years of service to the Town. We wish him well in his retirement. We will miss him.
We welcome our new chief, Wayne Stacy, and look forward to working with him in the years ahead.
Police department union negotiations have proceeded at a steady pace throughout this year. As of the end of December we still do not have a signed contract to bring to a town meeting for a vote.
The Town's financial position remains stable in 2000. The only unusual occurrence involves closing the books on FY2000. The fiscal year ends June 30, and typically the books are closed within two or three months after that date. The FY2000 books have not been closed as of December 31 because of reconciliation problems. The Board has been working to address this issue.
At the annual Town election in April of 2000, Janet Flinkstrom was elected to the Board, replacing Mike Reggio, who chose not to run for re-election. In September of 2000 Mark Forgues and family moved out of Town. A special election was scheduled to coincide with the presidential election on November 6. Peter McMurray was elected. We thank Mike and Mark for their time and efforts on behalf of the Town and welcome Janet and Peter. Our Town accountant, Marge Tavares resigned effective December 31, 2000. We thank her for her service as well.
The Town was awarded two large grants this year. The State Division of Conservation Services awarded the Town $250,000 in matching money to help fund the purchase of the land that was formerly the Watatic ski area. The Town is currently negotiating terms with the owners but has not yet reached a final agreement. We thank all the people on the Conservation Commission, Open Space Committee and Board of Selectmen who pursued and won this grant, and the voters at Town Meeting who voted overwhelmingly to support this purchase.
The Town was also awarded $536,300 in a Community Development and Housing grant. This money will be used to upgrade the Lyman building and make it ADA accessible. When the work is complete we will have the use of all four levels of the building for the first time in many years. The Board would like to thank our Town Administrator, Linda Sanders, and her assistant, Jennifer Collins, for their tremendous efforts to secure this funding for Ashby in a very competitive program.
Ashby received a major private gift this year. Tom Mikes of Bennett Road generously donated $500,000 to be used to fund the purchase of open space. The Board intends to use this funding in conjunction with other State and local funds to provide for future open space and parkland for the public to enjoy.
In the spring the Board negotiated with the Department of Environmental Protection to allow Ashby to use $98,000 in excess funds from the landfill closure account to purchase 12 acres of land in the center of town adjacent to Glenwood cemetery. Approximately 3 acres of this land will be used for cemetery expansion. The remaining 9 acres is restricted and must be kept as open fields in perpetuity. We thank the many enthusiastic voters who gave a resounding YEA at the May special town meeting to approve this purchase.
During a quiet interlude in a selectmen's meeting, the board appointed Dylan the official Town Hall dog. Dylan's duties include greeting visitors, posing for photos, and occasional message delivery in the Town hall. The appointment was reported by the local papers, was noticed by the Discovery Channel, and Dylan may go national. Stay tuned.
Ashby has been involved in two different litigation issues this year. The Town defended a sexual harassment claim brought by a former employee. The claim was filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). After hearing the evidence and listening to the Town's response, the MCAD ruled that no sexual harassment had occurred and found the Town and its employees blameless.
The second piece of litigation involved a ZBA decision to deny the siting of a cell tower near the intersection of route 31 and route 119. Initial rulings by the court have been favorable to the Town. This litigation is still pending.
Many thanks to all the employees and volunteers who have worked so hard this year to make Ashby the special place that it is. We encourage everyone to participate in your Town government. Ashby government is all of us working together to make this community the best that it can be.