WHITMAN — Selectmen on Tuesday, June 20, discussed eviction proceedings aimed at squatters inhabiting a recently foreclosed property on Temple Street as well as plans to honor the late state Sen. Edward Kirby at a Whitman Park ceremony on Saturday.
The board has proclaimed Saturday, June 24 as Edward P. “Ned” Kirby Day in Whitman, which will include a tree dedication in his memory at the Whitman Park bandstand at 11 a.m. Saturday.
June O’Leary of the Friends of Whitman Park said a great American elm tree, selected by the Department of Public Works, has already been planted and will be the centerpiece of the ceremony.
She said Kirby had been especially helpful when she first came to the Board of Selectmen for permission to work on improving the park 17 years ago.
“When I wrote my first grant, for $285,000, Ned was a big part of that,” she said. “We appreciate that.”
The short ceremony in the park will include presentation of citations to Mary Alice Kirby.
The Selectmen’s citation, researched by the board’s Administrative Assistant Laurie O’Brien, notes Kirby’s legal education and Korean War-era service in the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s office as well as his service as both a state representative for six years and a state senator and as an elected member of the Plymouth County Commissioners. He also served as an administrative law judge and a worker’s compensation appeals judge. Kirby was also instrumental in returning commuter rail service to the area.
“I wanted to recognize him,” O’Leary said. “We just don’t thank people enough, we really don’t. There are people in this town — like yourselves — that serve for years and that service should be recognized. I appreciated Ned, he was the type of person that you were glad to see coming … he had a wonderful outlook on life.”
Selectmen Chairman Dr. Carl Kowalski noted that both he and Town Administrator Frank Lynam had the same experience with Kirby at different times.
“He was the first person to welcome us to town,” Kowalski said. “He ran to us at church. … He was a terrific guy and I’m looking forward to Saturday.”
The land court authorized the foreclosure of the property at 1030 Temple St., in December. Subject to a recapture, the property owner — or their heirs — have a year to reclaim the property, of which time six months remains.
“I do have a concern that there are people, for lack of a better word, squatting in the property,” Lynam said, seeking the board’s approval to have the town’s land title attorney take the necessary steps to evict them and secure the building. “Although I’m aware there are people in the property, I didn’t want to move in the winter months because I’m also aware there’s a young child there and was reluctant to start an eviction process.”
Once the foreclosure process is complete, the town gets the proceeds of sale. according to Lynam.
“We’re into the property right now for a $76,000 in taxes, fees and interest plus whatever interest we expend to secure the property,” he said.
In other business, Selectmen approved year-end transfers and announced receipt of a Green Communities Grant, for which Assistant Town Administrator Lisa Green wrote the application.
The transfers included those from the Selectmen’s office for the elevator, accounts and street lighting. Transfers for the Health Inspector’s line and two for clerical expenses were also included, as well as a transfer for part-time clerical expenses at the Conservation Commission as well as a small transfer for additional clerical at the Council on Aging.
DPW is working on a water main project, replacing water gates that are more than 10 years old, on Bedford Street where the state is working on the reconfiguration of two intersections. Lynam said they want to take the opportunity to have the state do some of the work at what would be a discounted cost. The cost of the necessary engineering is just under $20,000, which is being transferred from retained earnings in this year’s budget to pay for those costs.
Green said the $197,408 phase two grant will allow lighting upgrades in the police station and DPW building as well as heating systems in the fire station and library, while make possible the purchase of an industrial sized steamer/kettle cooker for Whitman Middle School.
“By completing that grant, Lisa is returning to the town not only in savings, but in actual capital costs, more than twice her salary,” Lynam said.