Development and Town Finances Highlight Discussion With Easton Town Administrator
During a live chat last week, Town Administrator David Colton took questions on a number of topics.
Few hot topics weren't discussed last week when Town Administrator David Colton took questions from Easton residents during a live Patch chat.
Colton was joined by Police Chief Allen Krajcik, DPW Director David Field, Town Accountant Wendy Nightingale and Town Planner Brad Washburn.
Topics included shovelshop and downtown revitalization, town elections, and crime.
Overwhelmingly, however, residents were interested in development around town and town finances.
Colton will join us for a live chat again on May 24 at noon. Residents will have an opportunity to ask questions about the May 21 Town Meeting or any other topic.
Here is a look at some highlights from last week:
Shovelshop and Downtown Revitalization
EastonPatch: With the Shovelshop deal now closed, what can we expect to see for construction downtown in the next few months?
David Colton: The project is expected to take about 18 months. You have already seen installation of the construction fence. They are now installing environmental controls like haybales to prevent run-off into Quesett Brook. Next you'll see partial demolition of some non-historic buildings and earth movement off site.
Oh, and construction of the waste water treatment plant should start mid-May.
EastonPatch: Speaking of that, what about other downtown projects? Will Main Street be a construction zone soon?
David Colton: Not right away, the project is in design. We will be holding a community meeting early in the Summer.
...The purpose of the meeting is to get input about materials and amenities to be used to improve the "street scape" as well as locations of crosswalks, bike racks, tree plantings and street lights.
Town Development and Construction
LizzieH: Any update on the possibility of sidewalks being extended up Lincoln Street to Bay Road?
David Colton: We are working on the feasibility of sidewalks on Lincoln Street now. There are some engineering challenges along the way related to the width of the right of way and wetland impacts. Lincoln Street sidewalks are the top priority for the DPW in terms of street work this year.
Bob: What is the current status of the redesign of 5 corners?
David Colton: Five corners is almost complete. Mass DOT is completing the utility pole removals and final paving is expected in the early Summer.
Ron: What is the latest status on the Chestnut Street ballfields?
David Colton: The Edwin A Keach park, aka Chestnut Street Fields, is nearly complete. The contractor is currently repairing some areas that were damaged by a motorist who decided to drive on the field, as well as, addressing normal grow-in issues. The fields will be ready for use in the late Summer.
I was up there on Tuesday and it looks great!
LizzieH: When will there be an left arrow at the Rte138/123 intersection lights at CVS and what is status of the development behind CVS?
David Colton: Let's address the light first...That intersection will be totally reconstructed as part of the Quesett Development. There are left turn arrows on some of the approaches. I frankly don't remember which ones.
...The development in general is proceeding slowly. The developer, Doug King, recently submitted the Final Environmental Impact Report to the State. Which was just approved. Now he is working with the Department of Environmental protection on final permitting. I wouldn't expect any construction this year.
Scott: Hello, DPW Director, what is the current status of streets up for repaving?
David Colton: The DPW is coordinating with the contractor today on the final repaving of Linden Street, King Ave, Pleasant Street, and Holmes Street. Residents of those streets will be notified shortly.
Our new DPW Director, Dave Field, is developing a pavement management system that will evaluate the condition of every road in Easton and create a priority list based on condition and cost to improve. That list should be completed in Early Summer to coincide with funding becoming available.
LizzieH: Do you think the extension of the train line will ever happen through Easton?
David Colton: Well, LizzieH my crystal ball is in the shop!
The route through Easton is favored by the State and the MBTA intends to build it. There are many challenges remaining such as funding hurdles and environmental reviews at the state and federal level. My guess it is a question of when not if, but that's just an opinion.
Ron: I'd like to ask why the town elections are held on Tuesdays. This is a tough hurdle for the many Boston commuters who leave before 7am and get home around 7pm. How/could we move it to Saturdays? I realize that there may be some religious conflicts, but I think these would affect fewer voters and would grow overall voter participation.
David Colton: The short answer is that the by-laws require Tuesday Town Elections. The reason we don't do it on the weekend is to avoid conflict with religious obligations of many residents. It is an issue that could be revisited by Town Meeting if someone wanted to raise it.
Crime and Break-ins
EastonPatch: Last year there was an uptick in crime and break-ins. Has that subsided recently? What is the status of the crime rate in Easton?
David Colton: Chief Krajcik tells me that crime is way down this year year so far. The spell of break-ins abated after several arrests were made by Easton Police and police in surrounding communities.
Town Finances and Budget
EastonPatch: On Monday, you presented a balanced preliminary budget but cautioned us that there are still some undetermined factors. Any chance we would see the budget change before it is up for vote at Town Meeting?
David Colton: I would expect some minor adjustments, but as long as the state aid comes in where we expect it there should be no major differences.
EastonPatch: In the proposed capital budget (in the most recent Town Meeting Warrant) the two biggest items were Lincoln Street improvements (for $225,000) and Water Main Replacement (for $250,000). Can you clarify on what water main replacement will entail for the town?
David Colton: Most of the Water main money will be spent on Union Street. Once that is done we will be able to repave it. I know the condition is poor and causing some problems, but we can't really fix it until the water work is done.
Ron: Congratulations on the balanced budget proposal. What changes, if any, will be felt by the police and fire departments? Esp. staffing.
David Colton: We are adding personnel to both departments! The Police will get a new patrol officer and two dispatchers. The Fire Department will get two Firefighter/Paramedics. During this year will will also complete centralized dispatch which will free up both police and fire personnel to respond directly to emergencies.
JJ: Mr. Colton, what is the status of the teacher contract negotiation?
David Colton: Thankfully I am not involved in Teacher negotiations, I do the Police, Fire, Clerical, DPW, and Administrative personnel. Even if I did know anything I couldn't say because of laws restricting public discussion of collective bargaining while bargaining is on-going.