Southborough Selectmen talk about FY2022 targets

Deputy Chairman suggests changing the board name

By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Author

The Southborough Board of Selectmen recently discussed a number of goals for Fiscal Year 2022, including addressing a large number of ancient city records huddled in the town hall’s basement.
(Photo / Dakota Antelman)

SOUTHBOROUGH – American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, a potential community center, history walking park, and projects to bring Southborough into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are just a few of the issues raised by the Board of Selectmen as. Targets for the financial year (FY) 2022 are mentioned.

During his July 22nd meeting, Selectman Martin Healey was asked to refine and correlate each member’s list of goals to bring a finished product to a meeting over the next month.

Andrew Dennington said it was important to have “tight grips” on all of the deadlines and criteria required to qualify for ARPA federal funds. He said the city should then identify and “act on” a project like sewer or sidewalk work.

He also suggested that the board keep an eye on the master plan when it is ready this fall. From this, they should select a long-term capital target and implement it.

Healey discussed the formation of a committee and process to identify community / senior center locations and sources of funding. While it is possible to keep the idea “on the radar”, chairwoman Lisa Braccio said she was concerned that other groups and schools were also looking into the space requirements.

“As long as it stays in the ether, there is no chance it will become real,” Healey said.

Braccio noted that there is a great deal of interest in developing a historical walking park in conjunction with historical groups. She noted that a discussion would take place in early September to examine the idea.

Selectman Sam Stivers also suggested improving recreational / open space infrastructure, including filling gaps in sidewalks and bike paths, pursuing the acquisition of open space and creating neighborhood parks in the Liberty and Pinecone / Maplecrest areas.

He said the city should reach out to citizens willing and able to contribute funds to community projects.

Stivers also suggested adding more affordable / diverse housing and improving the downtown area.

Vice-Chair Chelsea Marie Malinowski was among several board members who emphasized the importance of following up on the implementation of solutions to problems mentioned in an ADA report discussed at an earlier meeting.

She wants to continue to focus on financial transparency and wants an article to be included on the resolution of the city council to change the name of the Chosen Board of Directors to “Elected Board of Directors”.

If voters passed such an article, Southborough would join area communities such as Westborough, Hudson and Grafton, which have already abolished the name “Board of Selectmen” in favor of the gender-neutral “Select Board”.

In her list of goals, Braccio said she wanted training and tools to be made available to volunteers to better “facilitate” their tasks.

“We need to invest in our volunteers so that they can excel,” she said.

She also suggested an annual survey of all employees on processes, potential for improvement, work ethic and general thoughts.

“It’s anonymous, but would give us a sense of what’s going on,” she said.

Braccio also raised the fact that the basements of Southborough Town Hall are overflowing with ancient records. Some have historical value, while other things like the school committee minutes from the 1970s need to be removed and digitized.

City administrator Mark Purple said there was a plan in place to resolve the problem in the past. But there was no funding. He said an air-conditioned archive is needed for permanent records.

“Let’s stop talking about it and give Mark tools …” Braccio said. “It’s claustrophobic. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen. Let’s just act. “


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