Halifax BOS Approve Multiple Uses for Town Green
The Halifax Board of Selectmen met on Tuesday, Jan. 24. It was the first meeting for new Town Administrator Cody Haddad.
President and Director of Halifax Pride, Lori Costa, appeared before the Board to discuss a Pride event she wished to hold on Saturday, June 17. She said that after first holding the event in 2021, they now feel prepared to hold a much larger one. “Our goal is to promote community, love, and understanding that we’re all neighbors and the Queer community… exist in all walks of life,” Costa said. Costa outlined some difficulties in organizing the first event with the town and said that they learned along the way to ask more questions and be more persistent in getting answers.
She said that a perceived issue with the live entertainment caused a small group of people on social media to spew hateful commentary online. She noted that Police Chief Joao Chaves attended the event in both 2021 and 2022, and had positive feedback for it.
Costa elaborated saying, “During our campaign period for our Special Town Election for the two vacant seats Mr. Nessralla and Mr. Bruno occupy now… at that time questions were asked that asked candidates about the entertainment at Halifax Pride… I was disappointed at some of the answers given by some candidates who had no knowledge of what actually occurred at our event. Instead, their opinions were formed based on assumptions or other events held at our town. This is the misinformation I hope to clarify tonight. In closing, I will say that I am a 21-year resident of Halifax. I have volunteered in many capacities in our community most of which have been to support children. Halifax has wonderful people but there are times, in my experience, when the climate has been difficult if you are different or are considered different.”
Alex Hagerty, who was a speaker at last year’s event, addressed the Halifax Selectmen saying he was happy to serve as Abington’s first openly gay Selectman. “I feel it is important for LGBTQ youth and adults, as part of their own acceptance of who they are to see and hear from people just like them – to be seen as equal people in society so they can be confident in themselves,” Hagerty said. “It was my understanding that there had been some concerns from residents in the town about the entertainment of the day, specifically the drag queens… Halifax Pride has always been advertised as a family friendly event… I can attest to the family friendly nature of the drag performances… the acts were tastefully done, outfits eloquently suited for all ages.”
Chief Chaves, who was on the call, chimed in calling the event “well done” in the past and said he doesn’t anticipate any safety concerns. The Selectmen voted to approve use of the Town Green noting that they still need to get the necessary permits and licenses.
Safety Concerns for COA
Selectmen Chair John Bruno said that Council on Aging (COA) Director Darlene Regan had expressed safety concerns in their building. According to Regan, there was an incident when an individual entered the building causing a disturbance and another time when the Police needed to come to the building. “The Police Chief has made some specific recommendations involving panic buttons, public access, and panic alarms,” Bruno said. “It seems to me that we should refer this to the Building Committee and have them work on having these issues addressed,” he continued. Regan, who was in attendance, said they have been provided with panic buttons that they can carry around in the event of an emergency.
Bruno said they had a resignation letter from Bob Ross, who previously stepped down from the Building Committee, and now needed to resign from the Zoning Bylaw Review Committee due to work commitments. Selectman Jonathan Selig asked that a thank you letter be sent to Ross.
RFP for Solar Field
The Selectmen had a meeting with Jerry Joy regarding an RFP for a Solar Field. Joy explained that they previously had an RFP for a landfill and then were granted approval to go ahead with it. “There’s two ways of doing it… Power Options Incorporated, they’re a non-profit and you can join their non-profit and they’ll come out, look at the site, hire the contractor – you have no say on it,” Joy explained. He continued, “To me, I’m a business man… as far as I’m concerned owning it is the best way… if the town owned it, you’re electrical bill would be paid one-hundred percent every month… but you would have to finance it so you’re looking at probably $3 million to build out there but that was two years ago.” He said the other option would be to go out to bid and noted that at the end of eight years, the town would own it. Haddad recommended creating an article for Town Meeting since any lease of town land over five years requires approval at Town Meeting. Joy said he would meet with Haddad to discuss next steps.
Liquor License Transfer
The Selectmen also held a hearing for the transfer of an alcohol beverage license from In Season Restaurant, Inc. d/b/a Lakeside Villa to Monponsett Events, LLC. Selig thanked the previous owner for their dedication to the town including their help with building the new playground. The Selectmen voted unanimously to approve the transfer of the license.
MBTA Action Plan
The new Town Administrator addressed the MBTA Action Plan that was on the agenda for the evening. “The State has enacted zoning requirements for communities that have MBTA, commuter rail, or rapid transit in that community so as a result, in order to be in compliance, the State has required that we submit an action plan,” Haddad said. He said that submitting the plan doesn’t commit the town to anything but noted that not submitting it could result in a significant loss of grant funding from the State. Haddad said that those grants include infrastructure and technical assistance grants.
The plan requires that the town have at least one zoning district of a certain size for multi-family housing. Haddad said that the town has only to zone for the construction and doesn’t actually have to build. Planning Board member Amy L. Troup advocated strongly against the plan saying that were the construction to take place it would cost the town more money in the long run. Haddad said that the creation of the plan would buy the town two years of compliance without needing to complete any construction though he noted that the town would have to show some form of effort toward looking into construction. There was considerable debate from those in attendance regarding whether to submit the plan or not. Bruno wished to move forward with submitting the plan, but Selig said that he saw both sides and wished to look into the issue further before the deadline at the end of the month. The Selectmen agreed to meet on Monday, Jan. 30 to make a decision on the matter.
Resident Concerns with MacDonald Industries
The Selectmen were supposed to have an appointment with Marilyn MacDonald of MacDonald Industries, but she was unable to attend. Haddad said he and Selig did a walk-through of the Plymouth Street property earlier that day. Selig said they were given a tour alongside representatives from the company and their legal counsel. “Everything appeared to be in compliance from everything I have read. I did bring up some issues that some of the residents had brought up as far as dust remediation – they say they have a dust remediation plan which is on par with the State. As far as water goes, they said they have their test wells around the facility that they are constantly checking… as far as the truck issues [trucks using Circuit St.]… I spoke with them about improving their signage in the front of the facility,” Selig said.
A few residents in attendance spoke out against the landfill expressing concern over contaminated soil and consequently contaminated water. One resident said that the town voted against the expansion of the landfill 30 years ago and Bruno acknowledged that he did remember that but asked residents to elaborate on their concerns. A resident explained, “the continued contamination, we already said no back then, now we’re adding to it. We’re talking about water, if these 40B’s start coming in our water system; we only have one aquifer we’re using right now. I talked to someone on the Conservation Commission, we basically have two aquifers, one West and one East side of Halifax; our two well locations now, we’re using one. I know there’s concern with Morse Brothers if something ever gets contaminated and we lose wells there – now we’ve got this dump that’s right on the hedge of the aquifer.” The same resident said he was concerned about the contaminated dust blowing around Halifax including the risk of heavy metals. Bruno said he would need to investigate the operation further. Selig was selected to serve as the point person on the residents’ concerns. “If the public would like to email me questions, I can get them to them and get answers,” Selig said.
Earth Day Fair
Amy L. Troup appeared before the Selectmen as part of the Beautification Committee regarding the clean-up days that are typically held on certain days throughout the year. Troup said they are hoping to have a clean-up week this year in mid-April as well as an educational fair on Saturday, April 22 on Earth Day. The Bottle Drive for Scouts would take place that day as well as other events. Troup said they were looking to have the 4th through 6th grade students in town compete in an essay contest related to Earth Day. A number of organizations would also hopefully be present. Troup said the hope would be to bring the community together while educating on ways to make the community greener. The Selectmen approved the use of the Town Green for the fair. “It’s nice to have a positive thing going,” Bruno said.
Request from Mobile Home Park Association
The Selectmen also met with members of the Mobile Home Park Association regarding a grant for the removal of dangerous trees. The grant wouldn’t cost the town anything, but the Selectmen and the town would need to submit it on their behalf. It was said that in two storms, more than 70 homes were hit in the community where 600 residents live, largely elderly. Haddad warned the Selectmen that in the interest of being fair and equitable, they would have to take on projects for other communities or non-profits that came before them with a similar request. Haddad stressed that the town would be on the hook for overseeing the project and paying any money up front were the grant to be a reimbursable one. Selig said, “They are our biggest taxpayers. They don’t usually require a lot of our services… they plow their own roads; I think it would be a good faith gesture to try to help them out.” Bruno said that he would like to start by getting the thoughts of the Highway Surveyor. Haddad recommended that the Association put together a draft application for their review.
Ragnar Relay Race
Their final appointment of the evening was with Amber Sadlier regarding the Ragnar Relay Race which would run through Halifax on May 20. Sadlier said that in the past they haven’t needed a Police detail as the relay passes through Halifax in the middle of the night. She said that about 150 individual runners would likely pass through over the course of seven hours. The runners use Halifax Elementary School as a stopping point. “We’re looking for just a pass-through event permit,” Sadlier explained. The Selectmen voted to allow the race to pass through the town.