Town Meeting - May 15th, 2023

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Seventh night of town meeting. Materials are available from


(Carl Wagner, Point of Order) Mr. Wagner says that it's the second night we're not singing the national anthem, and it's wrong.

Our test vote: Will tonight be the final night of town meeting? The opinion is 145--50--18.


(Sanjay Newton, MBTA Communities Working Group) Sanjay says that MBTA communities is a state mandate to allow multi-family housing by right. The state's Department of Housing and Community Development published their guidelines in the fall. 120 residents attended a public information session in March, over 1000 survey responses continue to inform the working group, and we expect to have a final proposal for town meeting in the fall. Mr. Sanjay asks the members of town meeting to engage. We're holding a forum on June 8th to discuss the first iteration of the district map. Residents can also hold a "meeting in a box", to have small group conversations and provide feedback into the planning process. The working group is also looking for suggestions of groups to engage with.

(Al Tosti, Precinct 17) Mr. Tosti informs town meeting that he submitted a document to the annotated warrant, which shows spending and enrollment for various vocational schools in Massachusetts.

(Nandana Mewada, Arlington Center for the Arts Board) Ms. Mewada says that the Arlington Center For the Arts (ACA) received two $27k grants last year. She thanks the Capitol Planning Committee for approving a new air handler for the Central School Building. ACA has six full-time staff, and served over 750 people in arts classes. They employed instructors, counselors, and interns. They organized Porchfest, Arlington Open Studios, and have started partnering with the Arlington Housing Authority. Ms. Mewada lists a number of upcoming exhibits and exhibitions. She says the board has several openings, and invites people to apply if they're interested.

(Andrew Fischer, Precinct 6) Mr. Fischer says he started a volunteer list for precinct six, and it's going well.

(John Hurd, Select Board) Mr. Hurd says that town day will be held in person, on September 22nd, from 10:30 - 16:30. There will be fireworks that night, at 19:30. Applications for town day booths are open.

(Adam Auster, Precinct 20) Mr. Auster offers a complimentary resolution, to acknowledge volunteers and staff that kept town meeting going during the pandemic.

(Dave Levy, Precinct 18) Mr. Levy says that people close to him were involved in two car accidents. He asks that we promise ourselves that we will drive safely.

Article 3 - Reports of Committees

(Larry Slotnick, Zero Waste Arlington) Mr. Slotnick submits the report of Zero Waste Arlington. Last year, we passed a ban on single-use plastic water bottles. He estimates that over 700k bottles of water were sold in Arlington last year. Instead of these, stores have started selling water in aluminum and paperboard containers. Aluminum is recyclable, but the paperboard is not, because it's covered in a plastic coating. The Zero Waste Committee has two main initiatives: Arlington on tap, and No Plastic Please. Arlington on Tap calls for the installation of bottle filling stations. Hurd Field will get one, and two or three others will be installed this year. No Plastic Please encourages restaurants not to give out plastic utensils unless patrons ask for them.

(Priya Sankalia, Zero Waste Arlington) Ms. Sankalia says that Zero Waste Arlington also has a legislative subcommittee. The are the ones bringing Article 64 to town meeting this year. They have a website, and produce the Earth to Arlington webinar.

(Susan Stamps, Tree Committee) Ms. Stamps submits the tree committee report to town meeting. They intend to plant 300 trees this year, and the Tree Warden tests each tree pit for the presence of natural gas. The Tree Committee also participates in the gas leaks task force. Their mission is the protection, preservation, and planting of trees. They advocate for trees during board hearings, and are running an adopt a tree program. Their website is, and they have a program to offer discounted trees to residents.

Article 56 - Subsidized Compost Collection

This article asks Town Meeting for $5000, to subsidize compost collection for local restaurants.

(Annie LaCourt, Precinct 13) Ms. LaCourt says that the article 56 appropriation was brought to town meeting by a group of students from Ottoson Middle School, as part of a civics project.

(Note: the main presentation was made by a group of students. I was only able to get their first names)

(Summer, Proponent) Summer says the goal is to create a compost program for restaurants. They're proposing an article as part of an 8th grade civics project. They'd like to run a one-year pilot that subsidizes compost collection for restaurants on Mass Ave.

(Alexandra, Proponent) Alexandra says that only 4% of our food waste is composted. Most of Arlington's waste is incinerated, which produces greenhouse gasses. Food waste is 70% water, so incineration isn't an efficient way to get rid of it. Composting breaks food waste down into non-toxic substances, and this will work with our net zero action plan. 90% of restaurant waste is compostable.

(Foster, Proponent) Foster says that partnering with a compost company will allow efficient collection of waste. She thinks restaurants can use that as part of their business model. This money will subsidize 10% of the cost of collection.

(Eleanor, Proponent) Eleanor says composting will help with rodent control.

(Ann Marie, Proponent) Ann Marie says $5k will subsidize 16 restaurants, and divert 500k pounds of food waste in one year.

(Chris Loreti, Precinct 7) Mr. Loreti asks how many restaurants are large enough that they're required to compost.

(Larry Slotnick, Precinct 7) Mr. Slotnick says that none of Arlington's restaurants are large enough to fall under the composting mandate.

(Chris Loreti, Precinct 7) Mr. Loreti asks if the town subsidizes waste disposal for businesses.

(Larry Slotnick, Precinct 7) Mr. Slotnick says that Arlington has an orange bag program. Businesses can purchase the bags for $2/each, and leave their waste in them for pickup.

(Gordon Jamieson, Precinct 12) Mr. Jamieson notes that recycling collection is free.

(Chris Loreti, Precinct 7) Mr. Loreti asks why restaurants can't do this themselves.

(Annie LaCourt, Precinct 13 and Finance Committee) Ms. LaCourt says that the Finance Committee though this was a way to get a big effect for short money. She thinks that restaurants that participate in the pilot will see the advantages of the program.

(Elaine Crowder, Precinct 19) Ms. Crowder is absolutely thrilled to see this article. It keeps food out of dumpsters, and doesn't attract rodents.

(Asia Kepka, Precinct 1) Ms. Kepka thinks this is a great idea. She asks if the schools do composting.

(Mark Kaepplein, Precinct 9) Mr. Kaepplein asks if instructional material will be provided to the restaurants.

(?, Proponent) One of the proponents says that Black Earth Composting provides instructional material.

(Mark Kaepplein) Mr. Kaepplein asks what businesses will pay.

(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says this haven't been worked out; the Town Manager and DPW have yet to figure out the details. The goal is to have a pilot, gather data, and assess the results.

(Adam Badik, Precinct 5) Mr. Badik is in favor of composting. Since his household started composting, they generate less trash. He thinks town meeting should support this.

(Dean Carman, Precinct 20) Mr. Carman moves the question.

Motion to terminate debate passes by voice vote.

Article passes, 200--4--2.

Article 41 - Transportation Infrastructure Fund

(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says the state collects money from transportation network companies and distributes it to municipalities. This article asks town meeting to appropriate the $15k we'll receive for sidewalk and safety improvements.

(Ed Trembly, Precinct 19) Mr. Trembly asks if the $15k will be used to improve intersections.

(Sandy Pooler, Town Manager) Mr. Pooler says most of the money will go toward sidewalk improvements. But this could be done in conjunction with road work.

(Ed Trembly) Mr. Trembly thinks there are a number of intersections that are too narrow for passenger cars, because the town installed pedestrian bump-outs.

(Sandy Pooler) Mr. Pooler acknowledges the bump outs. They were installed to improve pedestrian safety, and due to concerns of speeding traffic. They're traffic calming.

(Ed Trembly) Mr. Trembly thinks these force traffic onto the other side of the road.

(Leba Heigham, Precinct 15) Ms. Heigham moves the question.

Motion to terminate debate passes by voice vote.

Article passes, 210--4--3.

Article 42 - Financing of Construction or Reconstruction of Sewers and Sewerage Facilities

(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says she'll explain Articles 42 and 43 at the same time. The MWRA offers interest-free loans for the replacement of water and sewer lines.

(Steve Revilak, Precinct 1) From years past, Mr. Revilak understands that the town has approximately 100 miles of water and sewer lines, and these loans allow us to replace about one mile per year. That rate of replacement means we'll always have parts of the system that are at least 100 years old. Mr. Revilak asks if we might consider going to two miles/year, at some point.

(Michael Rademacher, DPW Director) Mr. Rademacher says he'd like to move to two miles year, at some time in the future.

Article passes, 211--5.

Article 43 - Financing of Construction or Reconstruction of Water Mains and Water Facilities

(Carmine Granucci, Precinct 21) Mr. Granucci moves the question.

Motion to terminate debate passes by voice vote.

Article passes, 207--7.

Article 45 - Appropriation/Committees and Commissions

(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says there are a number of boards and committees that are authorized to receive funding. Article 47 provides those funds, in the total amount of $104k.

(Al Tosti, Precinct 17) Mr. Tosti moves the question.

Motion to terminate debate passes by voice vote.

Article passes by voice vote.

Article 46 - Appropriation/Town Celebrations and Events

(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says this appropriation will fund parades and town day. State law also requires us to place flags on veterans graves on Memorial Day. The amount is $40k.

(Roderick Holland, Precinct 7) Mr. Holland moves the question.

Motion to terminate debate passes by voice vote.

Article passes by voice vote.

Article 47 - Appropriations/Miscellaneous

(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says the correct amount for article 47 is $10,810. This money will go towards the indemnification of medical costs for certain town employees, post retirement.

(Flynn Monks, Precinct 19) Mr. Monks moves the question.

Motion to terminate debate passes by voice vote.

Article passes by voice vote.

Article 48 - Appropriation/Water Bodies Fund

(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says the water bodies fund originally focused on three water bodies, but was later expanded to cover all water bodies in town. The recommended appropriation is $50k.

(Catherine Farrell, Precinct 5) Ms. Farrell moves the question.

Article passes by voice vote.

Article 49 - Community Preservation Act

(Clarissa Rowe, Community Preservation Act Committee Chair) Ms. Rowe says the Community Preservation Act (CPA) deals with three areas: historic preservation, open space and recreation, and community housing. We are required to spend at least 10% of our CPA funds in each of these three areas. Administrative costs typically run around 2%.

This year's CPA projects include

  • $500k for the Housing Corporation of Arlington's 10 Sunnyside Ave project
  • $370k for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. $250k of this will be used to support 10 Sunnyside Ave
  • $30k for the Somerville Homeless Coalition
  • $400k for window replacement at Menotomy Manor
  • $170k to replace the roof of the Arlington Housing Authority's Hauser Building
  • $400k for a mountain bike park at Hill's Hill.
  • $12k for invasive plant removal
  • $120k for restoration along Mill Brook
  • $15k for a feasibility study at 21 Pond Lane
  • $20k for no name brook
  • $2.5k for signage at the orchard
  • $187k for restorations to Arlington Friends of Drama's building
  • $73k for the Jason Russel House
  • $72k for document digitization
  • $112k for the Foot of the Rocks memorial
  • $385k for town hall preservation

Ms. Rowe says that Hill's Hill was the most controversial project. The committee received over 200 comments, including a number from young people. These comments led the committee to come up with a compromise: (1) having a member of the open space committee on the design committee for the park, (2) performing a tree inventory, and (3) developing two concepts for the pump track.

(Michael Jacoby Brown, Precinct 17) Mr. Brown asks for a no vote on the mountain bike trails. He says that kids have been riding mountain bikes there for 20 years, and there's no need to change something that works well right now. It's good for kids to figure out how to do things -- let the kids be creative and build trails. Mr. Brown says he talked to two kids who were mountain biking there. They like the woods the way they are and don't want construction. He doesn't think there's a need to spend $400k on trails when we already have them. He asks town meeting not to give up their common sense, and to be grateful that we live in a country where we can debate things without being thrown in jail. Mr. Brown motions to divide item 2f from the rest of the article.

Motion to divide the question fails, 77--134--3.

(Asia Kepka, Precinct 1) Ms. Kepka has concerns about Hill's Hill. She's visited pump tracks, and thinks the one proposed for Hill's Hill is unlike any she's ever seen. The project seems super large and expensive. She's concerned about maintenance. Some tracks have ongoing maintenance issues and need to be rebuilt each year. This pump track would be next to the skating ring, and the skating rink is not in great shape. Parks and Rec will have to maintain it. Lots of spaces in town need maintenance, and we should do that before building anything new.

(Liz Exton, Precinct 13) Ms. Exton introduces Henry F., who's a student at Arlington High School.

(Henry F) Henry says biking is a full time hobby for him, and he came up with the idea of having a bike track in town. In the Spring of 2020, Crusher Lot became a safe outlet for kids during the pandemic. They built a community of kids that came there to ride, exercise, and have fun. Kids from all over town built trails at Crusher Lot, and this led him to propose the idea for a mountain bike park to Parks and Recreation. Bike tracks are areas specifically designed for bike riders. Mountain bike riders appreciate these areas and are good at taking care of the natural environment around them. Hill's Hill would provide a space for people to learn about mountain biking, and the opportunity for after-school programs. It aligns with the Open Space and Recreation Plan. Henry thinks the park would have many benefits, like providing a safe place for exercise, and something for kids who don't make the sports teams. Recently, a group of kids organized a cleanup on Hill's Hill and removed a lot of debris. Henry asks town meeting for a yes vote.

(Christopher Heigham, Precinct 15) Mr. Heigham would like to introduce Brian McBride.

(Brian McBride) Mr. McBride is a member of the "Save Hill's Hill", a group that's been lobbying for habitat protection. Although the group originally opposed the project, mainly out of concern for habitat protection. They're concerned about the loss of wooded space. There was a feasibility study done during the summer, and the CPA committee listened and added conditions to address their concerns. He asks town meeting to endorse the funding.

(Christopher Heigham) Mr. Heigham asks how this agreement will be enforced.

(Clarissa Rowe) Ms. Rowe says applicants have to sign a contract.

(Doug Heim, Town Counsel) Mr. Heim says these agreements usually have a set of marks and milestones, in order to verify compliance.

(Clarissa Rowe) Ms. Rowe says that she signs off on every bill that the CPA committee pays.

(Christopher Heigham) Ms. Heigham asks which departments will be responsible for maintenance.

(Joe Connelly, Parks and Recreation) Ms. Connelly expects maintenance to be with a combination of volunteers and Park Department staff.

(Christopher Heigham) Mr. Heigham asks if Mr. Connelly agrees with the conditions.

(Joe Connelly) Mr. Connelly answers in the affirmative.

(Dori Mazor, Precinct 4) Ms. Mazor moves the question.

Motion to terminate debate passes by voice vote.

Article passes, 193--9--5.

Article 51 - Pension Adjustment for Former Twenty-Five Year/Accidental Disability Employees

(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says the Finance Committee recommends a favorable vote on an appropriation of $0, which will allow the retirement board to take advantage of provisions in General Law Chapter 32.

(Roderic Holland, Precinct 7) Mr. Holland moves the question.

Motion to terminate debate passes by voice vote.

Article passes, 204--0.

Article 52 - Appropriation/Opioid Settlement Fund

(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says this article is about an appropriation of $148k that the town has received in opioid settlements. The money will be used for substance abuse programs, treatment, and recovery.

(Mark Kaepplein, Precinct 9) Mr. Kaepplein asks where the spending will go, and if any of the harm reduction funds will be used to buy meth pipes.

(Alex McGee, Deputy Town Manager) Mr. McGee lists seven categories that the funds will be used for, and says the spending will be directed by the Health and Human Services director, following a community input process.

(Lynette Culverhouse, Precinct 11) Ms. Culverhouse asks how the money will be spent in Arlington. She asks if we'll hire treatment councilors here, or spend the money on treatment centers outside of town.

(Alec McGee) Mr. McGee says the spending will be directed by Health and Human Services, after a community input process.

(Charlie Foskett, Precinct 10) Mr. Foskett moves the question.

Motion to terminate debate passes by voice vote.

Article passes, 205--0.

Article 53 - Appropriation/Revaluation of Real Property

(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says the board of assessors is seeking $100k to conduct property assessments.

(Gordon Jamieson, Board of Assessors) Mr. Jamieson says the board actively looks for, and tries to capture new growth. This money if for a partial reassessment, which we're required to do half-way through our ten-year reassessment period.

(Angel Mozina, Precinct 15) Ms. Mozina asks if this will be an early way to re-evaluate taxes, and when the new valuations will go into effect.

(Gordon Jamieson) Mr. Jamieson says it won't be an early change in tax rates. Tax rates are set once per year, in December.

(Angel Mozina) Ms. Mozina asks when the re-evaluation will occur.

(Gordon Jamieson) Mr. Jamieson says it will be implemented in the FY25 tax year.

(Flynn Monks, Precinct 19) Mr. Monks moves the question.

Motion to terminate debate passes by voice vote.

Article passes, 193--8--2.

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

(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee) Ms. Deshler says the town is obligated to provide insurance to former employees. We're trying to build up the balance of our OPEB fund. Some of the money comes from a fund that Arlington used before joining the state's group insurance program. The Finance Committee recommends that most of this money in the Health Benefit Trust Fund be moved to the OPEB fund. Effectively, it's moving money from one account to another. The total amount is $1.4M.

(Mark Rosenthal, Precinct 14) Mr. Rosenthal asks if moving the money between accounts will put us over the FDIC insurance limit.

(Sandy Pooler) Mr. Pooler says the money isn't held in a savings account. Rather, it will be invested by the retirement board.

Article passes, 200--0--0.

Article 58 - Transfer of Funds/Cemetery

(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says this article asks Town Meeting to approve a transfer of $210k for the care of cemeteries, and $75k to purchase a mini-excavator.

(Roderick Holland, Precinct 7) Mr. Holland moves the question.

Motion to terminate debate passes by voice vote.

Article passes by voice vote.

Article 59 - Appropriation/Overlay Reserve

(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says this is a request to move $600k from the Assessor's surplus account to the general fund.

Article passes by voice vote.

Article 60 - Appropriation/Fiscal Stability Stabilization Fund

(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says the Fiscal stability stabilization fund is used to balance the budget between overrides. This year, town meeting is being asked to withdraw $588k from the fund.

Article passes, 200--2--1.

Article 61 - Appropriation/Long Term Stabilization Fund

(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says the Long Term Stabilization Fund is the town's emergency fund. We're being asked to move $100k into the fund.

Article passes by voice vote.

Article 62 - Use of Free Cash

(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says that free cash is what's left over at the end of the year. This money will go into the general fund, and be used in the determination of the tax rate. This article asks town meeting to approve $7.9M being taken from free cash.

Article passes, 195--2--2.

The next few articles are resolutions. Our practice is to allow one speaker in support of the resolution, and one speaker opposed.

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

(Eric Helmuth, Select Board Chair) Mr. Helmuth urges support for article 63. He says the Massachusetts EOEEA asked that town meeting approve this resolution, in order for Arlington to accepts grants to improve Veterans Memorial Park.

(Greg Christiana, Town Moderator) Mr. Christiana says that one asked to speak for or against the resolution, so we'll move to a vote.

Resolution passes, 195--0.

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

(John Hurd, Select Board) Mr. Hurd says this resolution was submitted by Zero Waste Arlington. It asks the state legislature to pass a bottle producer bill. The Select Board supported the resolution by a vote of 3--0--1.

(Scott Mullen, Zero Waste Arlington) Mr. Mullen notes that the Select Board adopted a new version of this resolution, but what's being projected is the old text.

There's a point of order about the language, and what we're voting on. Apparently the Select Board voted to adopt new resolution language on May 3rd, but the new resolution was never distributed.

Article 64 is laid on the table, while folks try to find a copy of the new language.

Article 65 - Resolution/My Body My Choice

(Eric Helmuth, Select Board Chair) Mr. Helmuth says the Select Board recommends a vote of no action on Article 65.

Article 65 was removed from the consent agenda, but no one has offered a substitute motion.

Recommendation of no action passes by voice vote.

Article 64 (continued)

We've located a copy of the new resolution language, and article 64 is taken from the table.

(John Hurd) Mr. Hurd explains the changes to the language. The Select Board voted in favor, by a vote of 4--0--1.

(Carl Wagner, Point of Order) Mr. Wagner asks if the new language is available for us to see.

No, it was never posted to the annotated warrant. What's on the screen is what we have to work with.

(Daniel Jalkut, Point of order) Mr. Jalkut isn't comfortable voting for something he hasn't seen yet.

(Scott Mullen, Zero Waste Arlington) Mr. Mullen says the original motion used language from the City of Newton. This part was replaced with more Arlington-specific language. The goal is to have a producer responsibility requirement. It's important to compost and recycle, and we want to incentivize businesses to produce items that are easier to repair, and less toxic. We've been asked to bear the costs of choices these companies have made. Waste goes into landfills, or is incinerated, or is trucked away. Arlington discarded 20k tons of waste last year.

(Steve Revilak, Point of Order) Mr. Revilak asks if there were changes to the "be it resolved" part of the resolution, and if so, could those changes be explained.

(Doug Heim, Town Counsel) Mr. Heim says there were numerous changes to the "whereas" sections, to provide detail that was more Arlington-specific. The resolution asks our legislature to support three state bills involving paint, packaging, and mattresses.

(Robin Bergman, Point of Order) Ms. Bergman asks if we'll get a copy of the new language.

Yes, but after tonight's meeting.

(Paul Schlichtman, Point of Order) Mr. Schlichtman suggests we focus on the "be it resolved" part.

(Gordon Jamieson, Point of order) Mr. Jamieson suggests having an electronic vote on this article.

Resolution passes, 170--11--13.

Article 67 - Resolution/Affordable Housing Overlay

(Guillermo Hamlin, Precinct 14, Proponent) Mr. Hamlin is going to keep his remarks short, given the late hour. He says our Housing Production Plan recommends consideration of an affordable housing overlay. His resolution was inspired by a similar one that the town of Brookline adopted.

(Michael Ruderman, Precinct 9) Mr. Ruderman wants to speak in opposition to article 67. He says we're being asked to support a proposal that was explained in less than one minute. He says it won't be explained. He asks "what are we endorsing". He says we don't have any idea about how an affordable housing overlay would work, or what it would mean to our properties. He says there's too little to go on, and too much impact.

Resolution passes, 129--45--19.

Article 69 - Resolution/Change State Flag and Seal

(John Hurd, Select Board) Mr. Hurd says the Select Board voted 4--0--1 to join the list of municipalities requesting a change to the state flag.

Resolution passes, 172--12--11.

With no more articles to hear, the annual Town Meeting dissolves.