Monthly Archives: July 2012

Water & DPW issues

Water Tower Issues

I had a long talk this afternoon with Mike Sullivan and Ken Feeney about several issues, including the coliform bacteria in the water tower at the former Medfield State Hospital site.  The water tower at the MSH site is lower than the Mt. Nebo water tower by about 16′, and per Ken as a result the water at the MSH site just does not circulate enough and sat it the water tower and baked during the hot weather this summer.

This elevation difference causes such problems that when I asked about doing maintenance on the MSH water tower at a recent meeting of the Water & Sewer Board, I was told that it is not worth spending the money on it, as it really needs to be replaced with one that is at the proper height.

Ken related that earlier this summer they had shocked the MSH water tower by dumping a lot of chlorine into it from the top, but where that had not solved the problem, they have now decided to drain the tank and clean it.  The water tower has been disconnected from the Town of Medfield’s water supply.  The water in the tank will be sold to the contractor who is tearing down the Clark Building at the Medfield State Hospital, as they will need water to wet down the Clark Building during its demolition.

Once the MSH water tower has been cleaned, Ken was not sure if he would re-connect it back onto the Medfield water system or not.  He said he may just keep water in it for fire suppression reasons, but keep it disconnected.

North Street Pavement Repairs

Ken has asked the contractor for the Columbia Gas company to repair the trenching they did on North Street, before they start new trenching work in town.  That contractor opined to Ken that the ruts in Rte 109 may have been caused by Mass Highway using the wrong mix in the top surface paving coat when that road was redone several years ago.  The cement trucks cause lots of wear, and the ruts are almost a tripping hazard now.

North Street Water Main Replacement

The old cast iron water mains under North Street will be replaced next summer, as a prelude to the redoing of North and Green Streets the following year.  Mass Highway warned the town to do that replacement ahead to avoid them breaking, and to allow time for the ground to conpact before the final work is done.

Stone Seal on North Side

Ken says tehre will be lots of stone sealing done on the North side of town done in August.  Harding street is currently getting grinding and rematching repairs done, which Ken opined wear much better than other forms of repairs.

Keep older tires on front wheels

This is from a service that supplies expert witnesses to attorneys for trials, and it runs counter to what I had thought –

Introduction Tire maintenance is an important part of vehicle safety, everything a vehicle does: go, stop, and turn, is directed to the roadway through the tire footprints. In an ideal world, all tires would be rotated often, about every 5,000 miles, and all tires would wear evenly and wear out together. Then a new set of 4 tires would be purchased and installed. The cycle repeats.

QUESTION: In the real world it is common for a vehicle to need only two tires replaced at a given time; in this situation, where should the new tires be installed?

SHORT ANSWER: Newer tires should always be be installed on the rear of a vehicle.

Long Answer In the event of a loss in control, the vehicle does not go in the manner or direction the driver intends. In some cases, the front tires lose traction. In this event, the vehicle understeers, it turns less than the driver intends. Sometimes this results in the vehicle traveling to the outside of a curve and sometimes even going off the pavement. In an understeer, the natural reaction of the driver is to lift off the gas and turn a little sharper. Both of these reactions will often bring the vehicle back under control.

Sometimes, the rear tires lose traction. In that event, the rear end swings out causing the vehicle to yaw. This action often occurs very fast and requires quick and precise countersteering by the driver to correct. Unfortunately this condition is outside the experience of most drivers and rarely can an oversteer be corrected. This often results in a crash.

Therefore, it is always preferable to have a vehicle lose traction at the front than to lose traction at the rear. This is how all vehicles are designed. They all have some built-in understeer.

If the front tires and rear tires are different in age, or tread depth, it is important that the better tires always be mounted on the rear wheel positions. This will maintain a safe handling condition of the vehicle. This seems counterintuitive because sometimes it seems that the better tires should be installed on the harder working front wheel positions, but that can result in an unsafe oversteering condition.

Another reason to install new tires on the rear is that new tires have a smaller chance of failing than older tires. Just as the rear tires need to have better traction to maintain a controllable vehicle, a vehicle with a rear tire failure is much harder to control than a vehicle with a front tire failure.

Therefore, it is always necessary to ensure that the better tires on a vehicle are mounted on the rear wheel positions. This applies to any 4 tire vehicle. One-ton and heavier trucks that have dual rear tires have more to consider.

Local tax base preserved in state energy bill

The Massachusetts Municipal Association issued this alert today –


In a significant victory for cities and towns, the final energy bill developed by a joint House-Senate conference committee, preserves the ability of communities to collect property taxes on solar and renewable energy facilities.

The MMA and local officials across the state have been communicating with legislators all year, expressing grave concerns about provisions in earlier versions of the bill passed by the House and Senate that would have exempted certain renewable energy facilities, including commercial solar facilities, from the property tax.  Instead, communities would have been allowed to collect a much lower PILOT equal to 5 percent of electricity sales. In essence, the previous versions of the legislation would have provided developers with a windfall, and reduced important revenues that communities collect and use to pay for critical local services.

The members of the conference committee (Reps. Keenan, Hogan and Beaton, and Sens. Downing, Brewer and Hedlund) heard the message loud and clear, and removed the tax provisions from the final bill.

The Legislature is expected to enact the compromise energy bill as soon as today, and send it to the Governor.

Please call your legislators today and thank them for protecting local decision-making and taxing authority.


On another important municipal issue, the Governor last week signed the “terms bill” for the $200 million fiscal 2013 Chapter 90 local road fund distribution that was authorized by separate legislation signed in June.  With both bills now law, cities and towns can begin signing contracts for local Chapter 90 projects based on the provisional apportionment letters sent by MassDOT to cities and towns on April 1.

MHSAA concert 8/3 – public invited

The Medfield High School Alumni Association asked me to post the following notice –


Over the years, the Medfield school system has produced a wealth of musical talent! 

You’ll be able to see for yourself at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 3 when the Medfield High School Alumni Association (MHSAA) hosts a special alumni performance at the Blake Middle School Auditorium.

Note: This event is open to the public and not just alumni!

About the concert:

— It will honor the late Robert D. Hersee, long-time MHS music coordinator, and dedicate the auditorium plaque honoring him.

— It will feature a two-hour musical revue comprised up of MHS alumni, including some members of the current MHS Band and Jazz Band.

—  Tickets are $15 and can be purchased via this form on the MHSAA Website (or at the door):

— All proceeds go to the MHSAA to support its goals (such as MHS scholarships), and are tax deductible.

Questions on this event- please contact

CPA benefits strengthened

Recent amendments of the Community Preservation Act (CPA) make it even more appealing to towns to adopt.  The CPA has towns committing to taxing themselves form 1 – 3% more each year in order to gain state matching funds.  Those matching funds were generated by surcharges on recording fees at the registry of deeds, and the % match had dropped from the initial 100% match as fewer transactions were recorded and more towns adopted the CPA, such that the match went down to about 1/3 if I recall right.

The state both better funded the match and amended the uses to which the monies can be put – the following is from the DOR’s Division of Local Services newsletter –


Governor Patrick Signs Changes to Community Preservation Act

Gov. Deval Patrick has signed into law an expansion of the Community Preservation Act (CPA) and a $25 million transfer from the state’s FY13 budget surplus to the statewide CPA Trust Fund, for distribution to communities in the fall of 2013.

The one-time transfer would supplement the existing source of revenue from the fund which comes from surcharges on fees paid to the record certain documents at the Registry of Deeds. Matching CPA grants paid from the trust to cities and towns adopting the CPA have decreased in recent years due to more participating communities and lower Registry collections reflecting a softened housing market.

The amendments, signed as part of the budget the governor signed on July 8, contains a number of changes relative to allowable CPA expenditures for recreation and housing assistance to individuals. The law also provides more options for paying into a CPA fund. The amendments are found in Chapter 139 of the Acts of 2012, Sections 69-83, 155 and 218. They took effect on July 1, 2012.

Here are highlights of these new provisions.

CPA Fund Uses:

  • Permit rehabilitation of existing recreational land not created or acquired with CPA funds
  • Expand the definition of rehabilitation to allow for capital improvements and replacement of recreational equipment
  • Add definition of capital improvement as reconstructions or alterations that materially add value or prolong the property’s life, are part of the real estate and are intended as permanent or indefinite installationsProhibit use of CPA funds to acquire artificial turf for athletic fields
  • Allow communities to include allowable recreational projects in meeting their annual 10% open space spending requirement
  • Define prohibited maintenance, as incidental repairs that do not add value or prolong the property’s life but keep the property in a condition of fitness, efficiency or readiness
  • Add definition of support of community housing as including grants, loans, rental assistance, security deposits, interest-rate write downs or other forms of assistance provided directly to individuals who qualify for community housing or entities that own or operate community housing
  • Allow communities to use in the first year only some of their CPA administrative and operating expenses to cover costs associated with tax billing software upgrades, but in an amount including other administrative expenses not greater than 5% of the annual revenues in the CPA fund

Other Revenue Sources

  • Allow communities to adopt the CPA at ballot with a minimum 1% property tax surcharge and then dedicate additional municipal revenue sources (such as local option tax revenue) to their CPA fund up to the full 3% of the real estate tax levy against real property
  • Allow communities that have already accepted CPA at a surcharge level above the 1% the option of reducing their CPA surcharge to 1% while committing additional municipal revenues their CPA Preservation Fund

Surcharge Exemptions

  • Add a new optional commercial exemption for the first $100,000 of property value for commercial and industrial properties, mirroring current exemption for residential property

Property Restrictions

  • Clarify that a real property interest acquired (rather than simply purchased) by a city or town by any mechanism using CPA funds must be bound by a separately recorded permanent restriction limiting its use to the CPA purpose for which it was acquired
  • Clarify that CPA funds may be appropriated to non-profit organizations to hold, monitor, and enforce restrictions limiting the use of land to CPA purposes

The above summary was prepared by DLS staff.

Gatehouse response to town – my #2

OK, yesterday afternoon my review of the submission to the ZBA on behalf of Gatehouse got interrupted by a call from Kristen needing a ride.  This morning I finished reviewing what was submitted, and I can tell you that it is actually 57 pages, when one includes the attached materials.  Attached are Phase I and II reports by the LSP’s hired by Gatehouse to evaluate the site for hazardous materials.  To this uneducated person, the reports say that the site is essentially clean, except for possible spill over from spills at adjoining sites.

I have become accustomed to the format of this report, as it is the same essential method used by the state’s consultants in the Medfield State Hospital clean up, where they issue a report, the town comments upon that report, and the report author then either adjusts their report or, more likely, justifies their original plan.  I look forward to the town consultants’ responses to what has been put forward for Gatehouse.

Gatehouse response to town

Gatehouse’s engineering firm, Merrikin, delivered a letter today to the Zoning Board of Appeals that responds to the points raised by the town, point by point, over 25 pages.

On being a selectman

Summer is typically the slow season for town business and selectman’s work, and this summer has seen things slow down.

The Medfield State Hospital Redevelopment Committee has started to meet, and I have been to two of their meetings, as well as responding to their 7/17/12 memo to the Board of Selectmen with suggestions on what we should do to move their task forward.

Last night I attended the Medfield Energy Committee (MEC) meeting:

  • update on Sagewell’s thermal imaging (our house pics came this week, and were really interesting)
  • collaboration with Medfield Green – will attend the Farmer’s  Market 8/16/12
  • EEC Block Grant not received for the Waste Water Treatment Plant – however, DOER will send out a consultant to review the plant for possible energy saving opportunities
  • Tilden Village follow up – they installed new low flow toilets and new exterior doors, and MEC members will review with Jack Hurd heat saving opportunties
  • PV solar site visit – area behind Wheelock School, by the WWTP, and  Solarize Massachusetts  which is for homeowners in Green  Communities Act towns (we are not).  There was some discussion about whether we should become a GCA town.
  • the next MEC meeting was set for 7:30 PM on 8/8/12 at the Town House

MSH Redevelopment Committee

The MSH Redevelopment Committee penned a 7/17/12 memo to the Board of Selectmen with four suggestions for actions the selectmen should take right away:

  1. Request DCAM to perform updated building surveys on a representative selection of buildings at the Property, including a detailed analysis of hazardous materials remediation requirements and an analysis of the possibility of renovation in accordance with National Park Service rehabilitation standards applicable to historic properties.
  2. Provide to the Town a copy of the Comprehensive Reuse Study referred to in the recent Jones Lang LaSalle report entitled “Medfield State Hospital Market Analysis Report DRAFT” dated April 20, 2012.
  3. Provide to the Town an accounting of the costs that DCAM would like to recover in connection with a disposition of the Property.
  4. Explore with DCAM the possibility of granting the Town a transferable Option to purchase the Property within three years at a price to be agreed upon. The Committee recommends that the Town pay only a nominal price for the Option because there will be significant costs to the Town during the due diligence period, including costs to retain consultants to assist in the preparation of redevelopment standards and a request for proposals.

The SHRC circulated that letter yesterday afternoon, and neither Ann nor Mark had seen it when the Board of Selectmen met Tuesday, so the Board of Selectmen met again last night to act on the recommendation.  At last night’s meeting, the BOS voted to send the attached letter to Carole Cornelison, the DCAM Commissioner.  My addition to Mike’s draft of the letter was the part about reminding DCAM that they owed us the promised DCAM documents relating to sales of state owned properties to other towns.

Thermal images

Commercial building infrared image

Commercial building infrared image (Photo credit: Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs)

We just got our copies of the thermal images of our home from, which they took last February.  We got six photos, perhaps because we live on a corner.  Warm spots on the house, like the windows, are red or yellow colored, indicating they are warmer, because more heat is escaping.  Looks to me like our foundation should be insulated, as there is a short row of dancing yellow ribbons at ground level, and really bright yellow basement windows.

Just after looking at the thermal images I called Anderson Windows today to order a replacement balancer,and found myself asking if they sold storm window inserts – they said they do not.  Just trying to get those reds and yellows a little darker.

It is useful information, and I recommend it to everyone.  I believe that Sagewell photographed/imaged all houses accessible from the street in town, so even if you did not sign up in advance, contact them to see if you can get access to the images of your home.

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