Letter to the Editor: Statement from the Lead Plaintiffs in a Suit against the Select Board re the Selection of 139 The Great Rd. for a new Fire Station

~ Submitted by Carol Amick and Bill Moonan

As was noted in a letter from our attorney to the Select Board dated Feb. 14, 2022, the Select Board has violated Chapter 30B, which is a state-mandated statute designed to protect the public against abuse of the procurement process.

Our attorney’s Feb. 14 letter also noted:

“Contracts executed in violation of Chapter 30B are invalid, and the Town is not permitted to make payment under such contracts. M.G.L. c.30B, §1(b).  In addition, a violation of Chapter 30B puts the Town at risk of a bid protest from competing proposers, a legal challenge from concerned taxpayers under M.G. L. c.40, §53, or an enforcement action instituted by the Inspector General pursuant to M.G.L. c. 30B, §17.”

Ms. Amick asked the Select Board:

  1. not to invoke the “unique acquisition” exception provided in Section 16(e)(2) of c.30B;
  2. to acknowledge that the Board was without authority to execute a contract to purchase 139 The Great Road; and
  3. to issue a proper solicitation if it wishes to conduct a lawfully conforming procurement process.

The Select Board failed to respond to these requests — not publicly at its Feb. 14 meeting or in writing.  Instead, it approved a uniqueness vote that reads like a post-hoc rationalization for the Board’s decision. A uniqueness determination is appropriate only if this is really the only property that can possibly meet the Town’s needs.

But everyone in Town knows that the Select Board chose a different property in 2020, and recommended it for purchase at the 2020 Annual Town Meeting, before COVID caused the postponement of most Town Meeting articles.  In addition, there were other properties identified as “finalist sites” that also satisfy the criteria identified in the uniqueness vote for 139 The Great Rd.

Even giving the Select Board the benefit of the doubt, its vote indicates only that it was not aware of a property that would be better than 139 The Great Road.  But that is precisely what the public bidding process is designed to determine.  By trying to short-cut the process, the Select Board violated its legal obligations as well as the trust of the community.

All of the plaintiffs in this suit agree strongly that the Town needs a new fire station.  But they are contesting the actions of the Select Board as unlawful, due to the c.30B violations.  The Select Board has not been forthcoming with the public about how they made their decision to acquire this historic property.  Their decision, which requires the demolition of an 1836 structure that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will lead to irreparable damage to the eastern end of the Town’s Center Historic District.  But most of all, it has caused great damage to our community’s faith in its Town leaders.

Opinion Editor’s note: At 461 words this statement exceeds our 400-word limit per letter but given that is describes litigation against the Town, it was decided that we should publish it in full.

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McClain, John
May 5, 2022 10:05 pm

“their decision, which requires the demolition of an 1836 structure that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places”, I do not see 139 Great Road listed in the register.

Matthew Agen
May 5, 2022 7:19 pm

Why does this ugly building get to be special because of its age? I would characterize it as the 1836 equivalent of a McMansion. No character, no style. Just big for bigness sake because the owner had money.

Ryan Mantz
May 5, 2022 12:56 pm

This is, literally, about Not In My Backyard (NIMBY). The author claims she supports a fire station, but apparently not one in her neighborhood.

David Aldorisio
May 5, 2022 7:03 am

I have never had any faith in the towns leaders!!!

Mario Mendes
May 4, 2022 10:09 pm

We could be saving millions, but no, let’s sue the town instead.

Ted T. Martin
May 6, 2022 2:57 pm
Reply to  Mario Mendes

Don’t confuse them with facts, Mario Mendes …

Nancy Wolk
May 6, 2022 11:48 pm
Reply to  Mario Mendes

This. All of this.