Town meeting day two roundup: MWRA water connection passes, Frankland Road land grab rejected before meeting adjourned again

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In Tuesday’s town hall aftermath, voters backed a plan to hook up water supplies from the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority, approved new turf for the Fruit Street fields and rejected a proposal to take the forest behind 71 Frankland Road by eminent domain.

For the second consecutive night, the municipal assembly was interrupted for lack of a quorum, this time just before 10 p.m., when 119 voters were counted, nine short of the required number. It will resume on Wednesday evening, with eight of the remaining 53 mandate articles. Most significant is the proposed financing agreement with Lykan Bioscience.

On Monday, the city assembly was halted due to a lack of quorum just as voters wrapped up their discussion of Section 22, the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) connection. When it resumed on Tuesday, it passed easily, as did the article that followed to allocate $600,000 for a PFAS filtration system for Well 6 off Fruit Street. When the MWRA connection is completed, all eight wells in the city will be closed, according to Department of Public Works Director John Westerling, who added that the filtration system would then be auctioned off to recoup some of the expense.

Section 45 concerned the eminent domain takeover of the forest behind 71 Frankland Road, where Seaboard Solar planned to clear-cut much of the forest and install a commercial solar panel.

The Select Board, Appropriations Committee, and Capital Improvement Committee all recommended disapproval. Appropriations Committee Chairman Mike Manning said the cost would likely be well over the $700,000 mentioned in the article, which was submitted via a citizen petition by resident Ann Karnofsky.

Mary Arnott was among those who spoke in favor of the article.

“I would ask you to step back and think about the number of acres we’ve lost in Hopkinton, mature trees that have just been cut down,” she said, adding, “I think if we adopt a long term view on the quality of life in Hopkinton, I think it’s a good investment to save this very unique property.”

Matthew Kizner, a member of the capital improvement committee, said while he enjoyed using the land and would be disappointed to lose it, he was worried about the “scary message” it would send to the business world to that the city take the land after allowing it to be used commercially.

“We have to be aware of what it means to honor our commitment,” he said.

In the end, 87 inhabitants voted against the article, including 26 for. A two-thirds majority would have been required for it to pass.

Another item that generated some interest was the allocation of funds to replace the artificial turf at the Fruit Street sports facility. The work is expected to cost $1.7 million, although $400,000 comes from accrued user fees.

Although the article passed easily, 168-7, it will also have to be approved in the annual municipal election on May 16.

The original course was built in 2012, and Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Dan Terry said it should have a lifespan of 7 to 12 years.

“Replacing the turf is really about making sure it’s safe, first and foremost, and we continue to have a high performance pitch for our residents and guests,” he said.

Terry said there are 1,200 attendees in town who use the field each year, and the facility hosts regional events (such as soccer tournaments) that generate revenue.

Department of Parks and Recreation director Jay Guelfi said an environmentally friendly backfill – something like silica sand – will be used this time instead of the crushed rubber currently in use which has raised concerns about the negative impacts on the environment and health.

Section (32) of the Community Preservation Committee Recommendations has been split into two motions. The first motion highlights the projects the CPC has agreed to support, including parking at the municipal forest, additional funds for a skate park. and funding pickleball and tennis courts (and parking) at the Fruit Street Sports Facility. It passed unanimously.

The PPC’s second request related to the potential purchase of the Conroy property between Saddle Hill Road and Town Forest. The city is in talks with the owner, but because a purchase price has not been established, the CPC recommended no action, and voters supported that decision.

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