At their December 16 meeting, the Selectmen reviewed the Town’s FY21 Capital Budget, heard further updates regarding the proposed Bedford History Museum, confirmed new members of the Conservation Commission, and approved further funding contracts for design changes in the intersection between North and Chelmsford Road.
FY21 Capital Budget Presentation
The Capital Expenditure Committee briefed the Board of Selectmen on the Capital Projects in Fiscal Year 2021.
As usual, projects are comprised of the needs of Public Works, Schools, Public Library, Fire, Police, Town Facilities, Finance, and Recreation Departments.
Two projects will have significant and long-lasting impacts on Bedford.
The Capital Expenditure Committee allotted $5 million in this year’s facilities budget for land to relocate the Fire Department. In FY22/23, there is a tentative $21 million for the design and build funding.
In addition to land for the fire station, $5.4 million is in this year’s facilities budget for renovations to the police station. This move affects the Bedford Historical Society whose archives and headquarters are located within the station.
Bedford History Museum
In a continuation of the long-term discussions between the Selectmen and the Bedford Historical Society, Selectman Moonan provided an update on a Bedford History Museum that would be financially supported by the Town and operated by the Bedford Historical Society. Reminiscent of their September 9 meeting with the Selectmen, the Historical Society achieved little success in moving forward to establish a museum. Selectmen Margot Fleischman, Edward Pierce, and Emily Mitchell all raised concerns over the financial foundations of the project.
Following the concerns expressed during the Selectmen’s September 9 meeting, the Historical Society wrote a business plan to explain the finances of the proposed museum. However, this plan did not fully address the Selectmen’s concerns.
The Society, as well as Selectman Chair Mike Rosenberg and Moonan, raised concerns over the project as the Historical Society will need to relinquish their space in the Police Station as that building’s renovations proceed.
The Historical Society hopes to establish a Bedford History Museum on the first and second floors of Old Town Hall. Currently, Bedford TV occupies the second-floor, and would need to vacate its space to make room for the museum.
Unable to reach an agreement, the Selectmen once again tabled the discussion until a later date.
Three candidates spoke about their application to become members of the Conservation Commission. The Selectmen named Christopher Gittins and Deborah Edinger to the two vacancies. Steven Wightman and Andreas Uthoff were also considered for the positions.
Gittins spoke of his background as a prior member of the Arbor Resource Committee and his interest in preserving the wildlife within Bedford. He added a hope that the Conservation Committee would adopt a stricter agenda format for their meetings so that people are aware of the time constraints and required materials to understand discussions. Gittens explained this is a part of his larger goal to increase attendance at Conservation Committee meetings.
Edinger discussed her membership on the Arbor Resource Committee member and current Vice-Chair of the Bedford Garden Club and a self-declared “frequent dog-walker.” She spoke about her experience with Open-Meeting laws as a former member of the Arbor Resource Committee.
DPW Design Contract
The Select Board approved the design contract for Green International to continue their work on proposed changes to the intersection at North Road and Chelmsford Road. Selectman Margot Fleischman explained that concern over the safety of this intersection has been long-standing.
Town Manager Sarah Stanton stressed the importance of this project as it is a factor of traffic mitigation and pedestrian, cyclist, and driver safety around the intersection.
Town Manager Report
Town Manager Sarah Stanton discussed the decision to cease use of well water and solely use MWRA water throughout Bedford. The decision to turn off the wells was made proactively as PFAS levels did not exceed the Office of Research and Standards for drinking water (ORSG), but above the proposed Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP) groundwater cleanup level. More information about PFAS can be found here.