Around Ashland NewsSep 29, 2020 10:44AM ● By Cynthia Whitty
Special Fall Town Meeting: Where, When, How
Officials and residents are discussing where, when and how the fall town meeting will take place to ensure public safety during this pandemic. The two major articles expected on the warrant are the construction of a new public safety facility and the new Mindess School. Other items include any necessary budget adjustments as well as the 41C1/2 Senior Property Tax Exemption. For the latter, Town Manager Michael Herbert has budgeted for an $800 exemption, increasing last year’s amount by $100. For updates on the special fall town meeting, visit www.ashlandmass.com/449/Town-Meeting.
Energy Efficiency Enhancement Grant
Ashland received $71,021 in grant funding on Sept. 4 from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER). The grant will fund energy efficiency upgrades at the town hall and for an electric vehicle charging station at the Ashland Community Center. These Green Community projects will help meet both the Commonwealth’s Clean Energy and Climate Plan targets and the town’s goal of being a net-zero community by 2040.
$63,521 of the award will cover LED lighting upgrades in the town hall. The scope of this project is to replace the existing aging fluorescent lighting with state-of-the art LED fixtures to achieve cost savings and reduce energy use. The LED upgrades are estimated to save the town over $7,000 in electricity and maintenance costs annually. The upgrades are projected to lower the annual lighting use by nearly 15,000 kWh, a 71 percent reduction in current usage.
$7,500 of the award will go towards the purchase and installation of an electric vehicle charging station at the community center. This station will be publicly accessible for electric vehicle drivers visiting the center, Ashland State Park, or businesses along West Union Street. Eversource is also assisting in making this charging station project possible by financing the site work components via its Make Ready Program.
Ashland’s New Public Safety Building
The Public Safety Building Committee applied for permitting with the Planning Board on Sept. 10. At the time of this writing, the committee is scheduled to meet with Design Review on Sept. 17 and the Conservation Commission in late September or early October. Following the permitting stage, the committee will prepare for the project’s bidding process. The committee is preparing to place the project on the warrant for the special fall town meeting. For more information, visit www.ashlandmass.com/756/Public-Safety-Building-Project.
Mindess School Final Plans
The schematic design for a new Mindess Elementary School has been submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for approval. The schematic design was approved by the School Committee, Select Board, and Finance Committee and includes a not to exceed total project budget of $84,387,000. The MSBA will review the schematic design and confirm the total grant amount, which is expected to be $26.4-$27.5 million. Aligning with Ashland’s sustainable goals, the new building will be net-zero ready by being efficient and utilizing geothermal for most of its heating and cooling needs. The project will be brought before voters at both the special fall town meeting and ballot. The project is scheduled to break ground in late fall of 2021 and open to students in September 2023. For more information, visit mindessschoolbuildingproject.ashland.k12.ma.us or email [email protected]
Sewer System Smoke Testing
The Town of Ashland’s Department of Public Works (DPW) water and sewer division with vendors, Haley and Ward a Division of CES and Flow Assessment Services, will conduct sewer system smoke testing beginning Sept. 10 for the purpose of locating sources of storm water inflow to the sanitary sewer system. The project will take approximately 60 to 90 days to complete.
Ashland’s DPW crew will provide weekly updates to the project on the town website, ashlandmass.com. Updates will include a map and schedule of the crews’ location. The schedule is flexible as the crew’s movement depends on the findings in the area, thus speeding up or slowing down the progression. DPW Director Doug Small said, “This is a safe and simple procedure that allows our crew to identify problem areas in our sewer system so we then can fix those problem areas. The dry weather makes this a perfect time to complete the project.”