Monthly Archives: December 2011

Dale Street School tour

Ann and I took an hour and a half tour  of the Dale Street School with Bob Maguire and Tim Bonfatti this morning to see the issues that need attention first hand.  Excellent bones to the building, but serious problems with the mechanical systems and space needs for the ancillary programs that we are required to run.  The town is fortunate to have in the two individuals with the interest and expertise to undertake the needed conversation with the state and the town about what is needed and how we can best make it happen.

My favorite piece of information was that the heat is controlled by the head custodian just knowing by experience when to physically turn the boilers on and off – i.e.  there is no automatic control of the temperature via thermostats, as we are used to elsewhere.

Ultimately the Dale Street School will be one part of what is being conceived of as a Town of Medfield municipal campus along Dale Street that will also address the public safety and Medfield Park & Recreation Commission needs.  The Building Committee is meeting next at 7PM on 1/5/12 to proceed with the master plan for that campus idea.

In reviewing the 40 odd pages of materials Bob Maguire prepared about the Dale Street School for the state’s School Building Assistance people, I learned that the school’s address is actually 45 Adams Street, so shouldn’t we call it the Adams Street School?


We had a flock of bluebirds (6-8 of them) checking out our two bluebird houses in front of the house this week.  Nice to see them around.  I hope they


Lowell Mason House website

Lowell Mason Foundation has a website with tons of photos.  My favorite was a  great close up one of the pegged fitted roof beam timbers in the center of the house.

Weekly Political Report – Week Ending December 16, 2011

The Weekly Political Report is prepared by a political consulting group, Rasky/Baerlein, and shared with me by John Nunnari.

Stephen Crosby to Chair Gaming Commission


On Tuesday, Governor Deval Patrick appointed Stephen Crosby as chair of the newly created Gaming Commission. Crosby is the first out of five commissioners that will be selected for the commission, which has a $15 million budget and broad authority to implement and regulate the new casino gambling industry in Massachusetts. Crosby currently serves as Dean of the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston. He previously served as Secretary of Administration and Finance under Governor Paul Cellucci and chief of staff to Governor Jane Swift. Crosby also led Governor Deval Patrick’s budget and finance transition team in 2006, and in 2009, Governor Patrick asked Crosby to lead a review of executive reimbursement at the state’s quasi-public agencies.


The Gaming Commission is charged with reviewing and selecting winning applications for each of three casino licenses and one slot parlor license. Attorney General Martha Coakley and Treasurer Steven Grossman will each select a member of the Gaming Commission while the remaining two commissioners will be jointly selected by Governor Patrick, Treasurer Grossman and AG Coakley by March 21, 2012.


Unemployment Rate Falls to 7% in Massachusetts


According to surveys released Thursday morning by Gov. Patrick’s administration, 5,000 jobs were added in Massachusetts in November, marking the second straight month of increased employment. Massachusetts’ unemployment rate of 7% is significantly lower than the national unemployment rate of 8.6%, and is at its lowest since December 2008. The bulk of November’s gains came from a 4,300 job gain in the leisure and hospitality sector and a 3,000 job gain in the trade, transportation and utility sector. Education and health services added 900 jobs and financial activities gained 700 jobs. The professional, scientific and business services sector gained 500 jobs, and miscellaneous services added 400 jobs.


Rep. Brownsberger Wins Primary to Fill Steve Tolman’s Senate Seat Rep. William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) earned 35 percent of the vote in the four-way primary election to select the Sen. Steve Tolman’s successor. Rep. Brownsberger beat three opponents Tuesday and with no Republican or third-party opponents planning to run in the Jan. 10 general election, Brownsberger appears to be confirmed to take office in January 2012. Sen. Steve Tolman (D-Brighton) left the Senate this year to become president of the AFL-CIO of Massachusetts.


Brownsberger beat Rep. Jonathan Hecht (D-Watertown), former firefighter union chief Robert McCarthy and Boston attorney Tim Schofield. The district includes Belmont, Watertown, part of Cambridge’s north side, and the Allston, Brighton and Back Bay areas of Boston.


Patrick Administration Reports Increases in Workforce Training Grants


According to reports released by the Patrick Administration this week, nearly 140 Massachusetts companies have been awarded $11.4 million in grants from the state’s Workforce Training Fund this year. Massachusetts employers estimate that the grants will create 1,700 new jobs and train 13,000 workers in diverse industries. The Workforce Training Fund, which is financed by employers through a surtax on unemployment insurance payments, was overhauled this year to make it a trust fund that can be distributed as needed, instead of once a year. It is no longer subject to annual legislative approval. The Patrick Administrations plans to award $18m in Workforce Training Fund Grants in 2012.


Massachusetts FY2013 Revenue Projection hearing


On Monday, the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means held a joint hearing to receive testimony on the state’s budget forecast to help them determine the Annual Revenue Forecast. Officials from the Department of Revenue, including Commissioner Amy Pitter, testified that despite a forecast of slower rates of job growth, state tax collections in fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1, 2012, are likely to increase by between 4.4 percent and 4.9 percent. However, the increase in state revenues will be more than offset by the growing cost of “non-discretionary” items like Medicaid, pension obligations and debt service. They anticipate this imbalance will require continued cuts and level funding in areas that have been cut over the last few years.



John Nunnari, Assoc AIA

Executive Director, AIA MA

617-951-1433 x263

617-951-0845 (fax)


MA Chapter of American Institute of Architects

290 Congress Street, Suite 200, Boston MA 02110


MEC – LED’s, Library, & Thermal Imaging


Medfield Energy Committee Meeting Minutes

7:30 p.m., November 30, 2011, Medfield Town Hall

Present: Marie Zack –Nolan, Cynthia Greene, Penny Connor, Charles Kellner, Fred Davis, Emre Schveighoffer, and Michael Sullivan. Also present were Library Trustee Lauren Feeney, Library Director Deborah Kelsey, and Selectmen Ann Thompson and Osler Peterson.

Chairman Nolan called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m. The minutes of the October 28, 2011 meeting were approved, unanimously.

LED Streetlights

Davis gave an update on the Street-lighting Roundtable. It appears that many are waiting for a LED tariff to be established. NSTAR has a more flexible tariff but it cannot establish and LED street-lighting rate until the Dept of Energy Resources (DOER) has established a separate rate category. The MAPC is attempting to put together a bid specification on LED lighting purchase and installation for cities and towns. What was thought to be a relatively simple procedure has turned out to be much more complicated, in part because of the lack of an LED rate. Sullivan felt that part of the problem in putting together a set of specifications was that the MAPC was asking each city and town to list what types of lights, fixtures, etc that it wanted and then the MAPC would combine those into an aggregate list. Davis had thought that MAPC would bid out the lights and work based on its own recommendations and let the cities and towns decide what they wanted to purchase from that list. Davis also reported that the price of LED lights had fallen considerably, but that it still had a long way to go before cities and towns could justify purchasing such lights, based on the time it takes to recover the capital costs. The problems of reliability, declining lumen levels, and color quality were being addressed and in a relatively short period of time, LED lights might be a cost effective alternative to high pressure sodium lights. Davis passed out copies of an Update on LED Streetlighting, with an Appendix Material Luminaire Type “A” specification and an inventory of street lighting fixtures. (Copy attached). Connor showed committee members a sample LED luminaire, which she had brought to the meeting and agreed that the lack of a rate for LED lights was a problem, especially, since street lights are not metered for energy consumption. She also noted that at the current price of LED luminaires and with the low cost of natural gas generated electricity, the payback period for LED lighting conversions would be relatively long. It was generally agreed that LED lighting had come a long way, but that it still had further to go before it would be an attractive alternative to current street lighting installations.  The Committee will continue discussion on LED lighting at future meetings.

Library Energy Audit

Chairman Nolan recognized Library Trustee Lauren Feeney and Library Director Deborah Kelsey, whom she had invited to attend to discuss how the Energy Committee could assist the library in addressing its energy consumption issues. The Committee at an earlier meeting had agreed to work on the library, which seemed to have had a large increase in energy usage during the past year.  Kelsey gave a presentation on the library, pointing out that when she reviewed the library’s electrical consumption, she noted that there was a substantial increase in consumption over the past year, but when she examined it closely, she determined that the increase was attributable to the replacement of several of the rooftop HVAC units, which had been out of service for some time. When the units were replaced and put into service, the energy consumption increased considerably. However, while the units were out of service, much of the library had been extremely hot and she had received numerous complaints from library patrons and employees. She also noted that the library, particularly, the old section was not very energy efficient. The old wooden-framed windows and doors, the high ceilings and the lack of insulation, made it difficult to reduce energy usage. She also mentioned that the lights operated on a single circuit, which made it impossible to  keep just one light on in a room, when it was not in use; that the high ceilings made lighting at desk levels difficult; and that the library had been designed for the use of task lighting, which had never been installed. She also pointed out problems with the dual heating system; i.e. the old boiler in the basement and the rooftop HVAC units.  She had reorganized the library, rearranging shelving, reducing shelving heights and reorganized aisles to better disperse light along the floor. A couple of years ago, she and the Trustees had looked at installing LED lighting, but determined , that it was not yet effective enough for the library’s needs and dropped the idea. Feeney distributed charts that she had prepared on energy consumption, which showed that while the library’s electrical use had, indeed, risen in recent years, gas consumption had been relatively steady, adjusting for annual temperature variations. Davis thought that for what the Trustees had, in terms of facilities, it was fairly efficient, and not easy to change. He suggested that perhaps they could reduce the overhead lighting and replace it with task lighting Schveighoffer asked if they had looked at other libraries for ideas. Kelsey replied that they had, but to some extent, every library was different and had a unique set of issues and operating goals. Nolan observed that when new libraries or other buildings were constructed, it was common practice to hire lighting consultants to advise on appropriate lighting for the circumstances.  Davis said that you can get lighting done by a lighting designer/engineer and he/she will stamp the plan, but most go with the lighting supplier’s suggestions. Greene questioned that, if in the original library plans there was supposed to be task lighting, where was it supposed to go. Kelsey thought that it was supposed to be for the arch space at the back of the reference room and in the periodical room, but noted that since the original plans, much of the library layout had been changed and what was specified then, would no longer work. Davis thought that coming up with a lighting plan, including task lighting, was not that difficult. Schweighoffer said that he had a lighting engineer at his business and maybe he could have him look at it. Greene said that painting the surfaces with a reflective paint could help improve light levels. Davis thought that reflective pain would degrade quickly from the effects of high wattage lens. The committee discussed the possibility of replacing the pendent lights in the reference and periodical rooms and agreed that, considering the labor cost, it would be better to do them all at once, although such lights could be very expensive, costing as much as $1,500 or $1,600 per fixture. A lighting plan could also provide for appropriate locations for task lighting. Connor noted that NSTAR had contributed $3,200 towards the cost of a lighting audit in 2009 and that the cost of upgrading the lighting at that time was so significant and the payback period was so long, that nothing was done at that time.  She felt that what the Library Director and Trustees were looking at was more that a one-for-one replacement of lighting fixtures. She felt what was needed was an overall lighting plan to improve the functioning of the library, which was not necessarily going to lower the lighting energy consumption, but could be justified, as a necessary improvement for patrons and staff.  She thought an ASRE(?) level 2 audits would be best to look at different types of lighting fixtures for the library. She felt that NSTAR might be able to assist with such an audit. It was agreed that Davis, Schveighoffer and Connor would work with Kelsey and Feeney on this.

Kelsey also discussed the complex heating and cooling systems in the library, with the old boiler in the basement and eight rooftop HVAC units on the roof. She observed that it was very complex, can’t yet be mapped, and needs people who know about these systems to evaluate their operations.  For example, last year, half of the rooftop units were not working and this may have caused the energy fluctuations. She thought that among other things, the library should look at standardizing thermostats with ones that can be programmed, as needed, for each space. She also wants to get rid of the book drop, which causes cold air to enter the building and to make more of the windows operable, but safe, with the use of window stops and/or safety bars. The old front doors and windows in the old section of the building leak. The light- filtering shades she has installed help, somewhat, to reduce air and light infiltration. Ductwork in some of the areas used by the staff for materials preparation are inadequate, leaving staff to work in either cold or hot conditions and she would also like to add ductwork in the stack areas.  Schveighoffer mentioned a different type of heating system, which would be expensive, but might address some of these problems. He had suggested it for the Pfaff Center and estimated the cost at $80,000 to $100,000.

It was decided that Connor would have Steve D’Giacomo from NSTAR come out and do a lighting audit and it would be done on a 50/50 cost sharing basis. She will coordinate with Davis and Schweighoffer and they will report back to the Committee on recommended changes, costs, timetables, and financing.

Sagewell Mass Thermal Energy

Davis updated the Committee on the thermal energy photography project. He noted that the Committee had voted to endorse the project at the last meeting and to recommend it to the Board of Selectmen.  Sullivan mentioned that that vote was subject to addressing the concerns of Lee Alinsky relative to the lack of local contractors on the approved list and the concerns of Fred Bunger about homeowner’s privacy concerns. Davis said that those concerns had been addressed and therefore, he would like to go before the Board of Selectmen and ask for their endorsement.  Sullivan will schedule him for next Tuesday’s Selectmen’s meeting and call with a time. Davis asked that a letter be sent to the Dept of Energy Resources asking that Medfield be included in its thermal energy program and that a letter be sent to Sagewell indicating that the Board of Selectmen endorse the program (See attached memo from Davis). David Temple had agreed to work with Davis on drafting of a letter to be sent to residents giving information about the program. Nolan asked when the postcards would go out. Davis said that Sagewell would like to do the drive-by in late January, when the thermal difference between the outside and inside air was around its maximum. There was some concern expressed about getting information out to townspeople, informing them of the program details. Davis will also work with Medfield Green on arranging a time, place and agenda for a public presentation on the program. Greene asked that information on what is good insulation be included in any publicity, noting her concerns about recent health issues arising from the use of isocyanide insulation products.  She also noted that there will be an upcoming webinar on various insulating techniques. She will send out information on this when it becomes available.

Next Meeting

The chairman scheduled the next meeting for Thursday, January 12, 2012 at the Town Hall. The meeting was adjourned at 9:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Michael Sullivan



MTF report: Municipalities mired in worst 2-year stretch in 3 decades

December 07, 2011

In fiscal 2010 and 2011, Massachusetts cities and towns endured the most difficult two-year period in 30 years, with property taxes rising to their highest share of local spending since Proposition 2½ took effect in 1981, according to a report released today by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

rest is at

Weekly Mass Political Summaries – Week Ending December 9, 2011

Attorney General Coakley Rejects Anti-Casino Initiative Petition
Attorney General Martha Coakley ruled this week that a proposed referendum filed by anti-casino activists to repeal the recently enacted casino law could not be included on the 2012 statewide ballot. Coakley rejected the initiative petition on the grounds that the law includes budgetary appropriations, which are exempt from voter repeal efforts. The law appropriates $15 million from Massachusetts’ Rainy Day fund and $500,000 for the Division of Gaming Enforcement. In order to overturn the Attorney General’s decision, anti-casino activists would need to collect 34,456 signatures by February 20, 2012.

Changes in Massachusetts House Leadership
House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) made a series of leadership changes this week at a tense Democratic Caucus following Rep. Charley Murphy’s (D-Burlington) decision to resign his leadership post as House Majority Whip.  Rep. Byron Rushing (D-Boston) will take Murphy’s place as the House Majority Whip and Rep. Michael Moran (D-Boston), who authored the legislative and congressional redistricting plans, moves into Rep. Rushing’s slot as a Floor Division Leader.  Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston) was also promoted to fill Rep. Moran’s position as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Election Laws.

Two Ballot Questions Clear First Hurdle to 2012 Vote
Secretary of State William Galvin announced this week that two initiative petitions met the deadline for securing 68,911 signatures, one of the first major milestone in advancing proposals to the 2012 statewide ballot. The Auto Repair initiative, which will require auto manufacturers to disclose additional diagnostic information to auto mechanic shops, submitted 81,803 certified signatures to Secretary of State’s office. The “Death with Dignity” proposal, which would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients, submitted more than 86,000 certified signatures. Two additional petitions appear on track for the ballot in 2012, with supporters appearing to submit enough locally certified signatures by Wednesday’s 5 p.m. deadline. This includes proposals to legalize the medical use of marijuana, and to reform public school policy by de-emphasizing teacher seniority and strengthening teacher evaluations.

Lawmakers have until May 2012 to approve the proposals. If the proposals are rejected or the legislature does not take action, each campaign must collect an additional 11,500 signatures to advance their questions to the November 2012 ballot.

Growth in Business Confidence for Massachusetts
The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) business confidence index rose 3.7 points in November. Despite the increase, the index is still barely above the 50-point mark where confidence is considered neither positive nor negative.


I saw the otter in the pond off Harding Street while jogging yesterday morning.  The cars did not seem to bother him, but my red running pants did when I stopped.

River otter in pond along Harding this afternoon

Deb and Kristen just reported sighting a river otter in the pond along Harding Street, near Wight Street this afternoon.  Years ago Deb and I found a dead one (probably hit by a car) on Harding by the the stream near the RR tracks.  I like knowing they live right around us.

DCAM last night on MSH

Last night DCAM conducted another in its string of Public Involvement Process (PIP) meetings on the clean up of the Medfield State Hospital property (this one over 2 hours), but

  • with a new tone seeking a collaborative solution, and
  • with a new team.

The reason for the meeting was a report on the finished work at the clay containment area, but the real news was both the new tone and the new DCAM environmental team.   Four new consultants were introduced, who will now join Weston & Sampson.

Additionally, as reported after the Friday meeting Mike, Kris and I had with DCAM last week, they are reaching out to schedule stakeholder meetings with various groups.  My suggestion to DCAM a week ago to hold working meetings of the LSP’s seems to have morphed into what was announced last night as a 1/12/12 technical meeting to discuss the science at 7:30 PM at the Medfield Town House.

There will apparently be a fresh set of eyes reviewing the clean up.  Let’s hope that the town’s suggested clean up of the C&D area now gets a more favorable consideration by DCAM.  The costs I was quoted when we met a week ago make their current plan and our requested plan seem to cost the same when permanent monitoring is added in – they quoted $5.5m to do our materials removal versus $1.6m for their cap and cover, but when one adds in $2.6m cost for the monitoring for the first 30 years, their cap and cover gets to a $4.2m cost, and I am guessing that the remaining monitoring from 30 year out to forever would have a present cost of the other $1m that would make both approachs cost the same.  DCAM will hopefully release the full details of those numbers as they launch their new period of collaboration.