Monthly Archives: July 2016

Cultural Survey – correct link

Sorry, but when I copied the survey link it added language that made the not work.  Thanks Bob Ingram for letting me know.  It now works on the post and below, but probably still not on the original emails, and posts to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

This is the correct link to the cultural survey for the former Medfield State Hospital site.

Survey of MSH cultural uses by 8/10

Lee Chapel at msh

Lee Chapel

The Medfield State Hospital Master Planning Committee arranged to study the financial viability of cultural uses at the former Medfield State Hospital site, using a combination of a state grant and matching town meeting monies.  As part of that study, the consultant is looking for input from residents.  This message below is from Jean Mineo –

Medfield friends, I know I’ve asked you to fill out A LOT of surveys this year. It does matter. Once more, please take a moment to complete this brief survey byArtsMarket Inc. before Aug. 10 exploring cultural opportunities at the MedfieldState Hospital as part of a feasibility study supported by the MA Cultural Facilities Fund and the Town of Medfield. One entry will be selected at random for a $100 Brothers gift certificate. Thank you for your help!

Dog that bit 7/21 needs to be known

From the Medfield Police Department’s Animal Control Officer, Jennifer Shaw Cronin, is the notice below.  Please come forward if you are and/or know the owner –

On Thursday, July 21, around 2:30-3:00pm a young woman was jogging at the state hospital and was bitten in the leg by a medium sized, chocolate brown dog, maybe some sort of boxer mix. The owner of the dog was a middle-aged woman, with dark colored hair, and she was picking berries. The young woman did not realize she had a puncture wound until after her run and went back to find a dog but they were gone. Unfortunately since we do not have the rabies vaccination history on this dog, the young woman will have to undergo the series of rabies shots. If you own this dog, please call me at the Medfield police station, 508-359-2315 so I can verify your dog’s vaccination history. Thank you very much.

water by the tower full

The new water tower recently had to be drained, just after it was filled for the first time, due to a discovered leak.  The seller was charged for the water, but appears to have received a better rate than me, per the email below from Mike.

Pete, the invoice sent to Phoenix Fabricators and Erectors was for $5,128.20. Mike S.

water towers at MSH


Forms of town governance

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue’s Division of Local Services has a regular informational email with articles that I often find instructive.  The article that I am sharing below has to do with explaining the various forms of local government available to us – I put in blue text the town material at the end.

We have a town administrator, and when I asked Mike the difference between town administrators and town mangers, he explained that under the former the selectmen make appointments and under the latter the manager makes appointments.

I think the town administrator form is right for us, but I do think that we should consider whether a five member Board of Selectmen and a representative town meeting would be better for Medfield.

Due to the heat I ran indoors this morning at the Kingsbury Club, and the office was over 90 this morning (now a refreshing, by comparison, 85).


Review of Municipal Government Structures
Tara Lynch – Technical Assistance Bureau Senior Project Manager

(The following is the first of a two-part series examining current local government structures and financial management frameworks in Massachusetts.)

The Technical Assistance Bureau (TAB) provides guidance to cities and towns on a variety of municipal matters, including those related to structural issues. Communities often contact TAB because they are contemplating merging their treasurer and collector offices, regionalizing a position or function, developing a charter, or transforming to a city form of government, among many other decisions.

As a resource for our analyses, TAB maintains a database of the various structures in effect in the Commonwealth’s 351 municipalities. Sources for this include municipal websites, other external agencies, community reviews that TAB conducts, and the Gateway Local Officials Directory, whose data is submitted to the Division of Local Services (DLS) annually by individuals in each community. Although the quality of the accumulated data is imperfect since it is subject to the timeliness and accuracy of local submissions and updates, it nevertheless provides a credible overall picture of municipal governments statewide. The information also reflects and allows TAB to track trends that emerge as the governance landscape grows more complex and as communities mature and evolve.

Based on TAB’s current data, Massachusetts today comprises 295 towns and 56 cities. Among the cities are 14 that retain “Town of” in their names, including the Town of East Longmeadow (pop. 16,022), which adopted a city form of government effective the first of this month. Although the uninitiated may assume that a large population is the crucial influencer of town versus city government structures, this is not the case. In the Commonwealth, city populations range in size from Palmer’s modest 12,157 to Boston’s 645,966, while towns range from Gosnold’s 76 to Framingham’s sizeable 70,441.

Generally speaking, towns begin to consider petitioning the state to transform to a city form of government when the traditional, organizationally flatter and less legislatively nimble town model increasingly strains to effectively manage fiscal complexities, economic development, and service demands. Apart from population factors, the point at which this happens can be affected by unique historical aspects, rooted socioeconomic factors, regional changes, and local political momentum toward an ever more vertically aligned, accountable government structure. Population, though, is the easiest of these to quantify.

The tipping-point population range when there is a somewhat even balance of cities and towns appears to be from 25,000 to 45,000. Of the 51 municipalities in that range, 23 (45%) are cities and 28 are towns (55%). The prevalence of cities becomes far more pronounced once populations exceed 35,000. By this point, only seven (16%) of the state’s 45 communities over that size remain towns: Natick (35,214), Shrewsbury (36,309), Amherst (38,919), Billerica (41,888), Arlington (44,028), Plymouth (57,826), Brookline (59,128) and Framingham (70,441).

But what exactly is the difference between cities and towns? In Massachusetts, the essential difference is structural: a city is defined by the presence of a city or town council as the alternative legislative body to a town meeting. Having a mayor as the chief executive officer is optional though predominant in the state, this role being present in 43 cities (77%). Chelsea, Cambridge, Lowell and Worcester each have as their chief executive officer a city manager, who is appointed by and reports to the elected city council. While the latter three cities also have mayors, they hold only ceremonial positions. Additionally, there are eight “Town of” cities that have town managers and one with a town administrator.

In a town, executive authority is vested in an elected board of selectmen. The selectmen may choose to appoint a full- or part-time professional to manage town affairs on a day-to-day basis, and the incidence of such an administrator generally correlates to the town’s population size. The creation of this type of position can be effected through a charter, bylaw or town vote.

MGL c. 41, sec. 23A is the general law that authorizes selectmen “to appoint an executive secretary or town administrator.” Although the statute makes no distinction between these two titles, in practice, a greater degree of management and appointing authority tends to be delegated to town administrators, either by formal job description or bylaw. Furthermore, some towns choose to give a different job title to the administrator position, such as town coordinator or executive director. As a well-established best practice, TAB consistently endorses centralized government structures with clear lines of authority because they enable better oversight and accountability. In pursuit of this, many progressive communities refashion the town administrator position and retitle it to town manager, oftentimes doing so through a charter or special act. On a case-by-case basis, though, the difference between a town administrator and town manager can also be purely semantic.

The vast majority of towns statewide now have an appointed, professional, administrator-type position (260 towns, 88%). The ranges of work hours, salaries, oversight authority, and appointing powers among these officeholders vary quite widely, however. In 35 towns (12%), the select boards have appointed no administrator position, although there is usually a person performing at least a clerical function for the selectmen. Statewide, the job titles for the professional administrator in towns break out as follows:

  • Town administrator: 172 (58%)
  • Town manager: 63 (21%)
  • Executive secretary: 8 (3%)
  • Town coordinator: 6 (2%)
  • Other titles: 7 (2%)
The second part of this series will be presented in a future City & Town and further examine local government structure in the context of financial management and the options available for effecting structural change.

Tower seller pays for wasted water

water towers at MSH

The new water tower at the former Medfield State Hospital site was only just finally filled last week, when the new tank sprang a leak.  To fix the leak it had to be drained of all that water just used to fill the tank.  The issue then arose as to who should pay for all that water, and the tank manufacturer has agreed to pay per the email today from Mike Sullivan.

I asked if I could have the drained water for my lawn – we even numbers cannot water for another week.

I will ask Mike just how much we charge for a tank of water.

BTW, I recently undertook a survey of water tower styles for the town by driving to Indiana and back, and I can now report that one-third the water tanks are our style and the rest are rounded.  Some of our styles, however, do have peaked tops.

Phoenix Fabricators, the contractor for the State Hospital water town has agreed to pay the cost of water for having to drain the tank to repair the leak. Mike S.

DEP requires more restrictive water ban

water ban-2


The Town of Medfield has received notice from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MA DEP) to increase the level of outdoor watering restrictions due to increasing drought conditions.

Therefore, the Town of Medfield is declaring a mandatory one day a week outdoor watering program.

  • Houses with odd numbers may perform outdoor watering on Monday evenings
  • Houses with even numbers may perform outdoor watering on Thursday evenings.

Daily handheld watering of vegetable gardens and flowers is permitted.   If you have further questions, please contact the Medfield
Water Department at 508-906-3004.

Financial data online


ClearGov put our general financial data from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue on-line for us as a promotion, seeking to sell us more services.

If  residents want access to the details of the town’s finances, it too can be put on-line for them.  The state and the City of Boston have both put their checkbooks online.

Hospital Road 40B documents


To review the documents related to the Larkins’ proposed 40B project on Hospital Road, see the link provided below in an email this morning from Sarah Raposa.

Kristine is in the process of making a page on the town website. In the meanwhile here is a link to a Dropbox folder containing the submission to MassHousing.


Sarah Raposa, AICP

Town Planner

Watch you tax money at work

MHS sigh

At the selectmen meeting last night Jeff Marsden, the School Superintendent, reported on the status of the turf field, amongst other things, and as an update today Jeff Marsden shared that the MHS webcam actually shows the work in progress.  Just scroll down the page to see the actual image of the field getting built.

I forgot to mention last night that the field project can be seen live on our website at