HANSON — Hanson Selectmen, with the support of the Finance Committee, agreed on an 8.5 percent — up from 6.5 percent — increase in the Whitman Hanson Regional School District assessment Tuesday, April 30, still leaving them several percentage points behind the regional School Committee’s proposed increase of 12.5 percent. The Selectmen also voted to support a warrant article to acquire the Hubbell/Litecontrol property and rehearsed town meeting.
Finance Committee chair Kevin Sullivan liaised between the selectmen and his committee, and after offering several detailed explanations of their recommendations on warrant articles for town meeting he went to meet with his committee to work out a compromise on the school assessment issue.
Sullivan said the money for the 2-percentage point increase was found in the snow and ice line item. The Finance Committee found about $17,000 to fund the increase.
He said that the snow and ice budget was rarely spent, and that they had been increasing it over time so that they were comfortable taking money from it for the school assessment and the Selectmen agreed.
The board was likewise comfortable supporting the increase in order to compromise with the school committee, but Selectman Chairman Ken Mitchell wants to change the process.
He said that they cannot be doing this on the eve of town meeting in the future.
Selectmen voted to support a warrant article at Town Meeting to accept the formerly heavily polluted 9.5-acre Hubbell/Litecontrol property with an eye to move the Highway Department there.
The board had a lengthy discussion about the pros and cons of receiving the property.
Selectman Matthew Dyer was at first suspicious that the company was giving the property to the town, noting that corporations generally are in the business of making money, not giving things away. He also noted that it could be used for commercial uses, bringing tax revenue to the town.
He changed his mind after the discussion, though, and voted to support the land transfer.
FitzGerald-Kemmett was vocally opposed.
“I don’t want to be the member of the board of Selectmen [who accepts] an ‘Erin Brockovich’-like property,” she said. She went on for some time explaining her rationale.
The property was heavily polluted and has been cleaned-up. It has been given a “clean bill of health,” according to Town Counsel Kate Feodoroff, except for “sensitive uses” like residential development. Wells cannot be dug on the land.
It can be used for municipal or commercial uses, and has been eyed for the Highway Department, which even FitzGerald-Kemmett admits is housed in an unhealthy building.
Selectman James Hickey asked the Highway Department if they could use the two buildings currently on the site to park equipment that is currently left outside until a more permanent solution could be found. The response was yes, and that seemed to seal the deal.
With only FitzGerald-Kemmett opposed, the Selectmen voted to support the warrant article, 4-1.
Hanson Public Library Director Karen Stolfer offered a brief preview of what library trustees would present at Town Meeting regarding a possible building project at the library.
She said that the library is currently involved in a planning project which requires two documents, a “strategic plan” and a “building program,” both of which have been completed.
The Library Board of Trustees adopted the strategic plan Sept. 29, 2018, and approved the building program March 5, 2019, after conducting an involved survey of library user needs, she said.
Stolfer said a presentation and documents will be provided at Town Meeting to inform the residents of different options that trustees hope the town will approve in the future, either an expansion of the current library, to approximately double its space, or a new library altogether. Flyers and a PowerPoint presentation will be provided at Town Meeting the strategic plan and building program are available online at hansonlibrary.org.