Route 140/East Princeton Village– updated 11/27/19 with info from Greg Oswitt of J.H. Lynch & Sons
This project will provide traffic and safety improvements to Route 140 while enhancing the historic nature of the East Princeton Village. The project includes the replacement of a structurally deficient bridge that carries Route 140 over Keyes Brook. The traffic and safety improvements include pavement reconstruction to provide consistent roadway widths, installation of granite curbing, new ADA compliant sidewalks and wheelchair ramps, redesign of the Route 140/Route 31/Beaman Rd intersection as a roundabout, and various drainage, lighting, streetscape, and traffic calming improvements.
Work on the $6.5 million contract is being performed by the contractor, J.H. Lynch & Sons, Inc. out of Millbury, MA and the project is being administered by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Highway Division-District 3 out of Worcester.
“We have made a lot of progress since July with the items as follows:
- Asphalt pavement of the base and intermediate courses are complete.
- Drainage piping and castings are complete and are functioning.
- Granite curb installation has been completed from Leominster Road to the Roundabout.
- Street lighting foundations, conduit, wire, poles and fixtures are 100% complete and have been activated.
- Bridge work is completed and the bridge railing has been installed.
- Guardrail work is completed from the Sterling line up to the roundabout.
- The infiltration basin (pond), has been completed including the overflow structure, swale, rip rap and associated grading at the Sterling line has been completed.
- The wetland mitigation area at the northern end has been completed except for plantings.
- Shoulder grading and driveway apron work continues. This will continue until the winter shuts us down.
- Reclaimed granite block walls have been installed through East Princeton and are about 50% complete.
- Sidewalk gravel has been placed in some areas.
Work that remains includes:
- Roundabout granite curb
- stamped concrete at the roundabout
- decorative historically accurate fencing at the bridge
- granite around the perimeter of the roundabout
- surface paving course
- pavement markings
- permanent signage
- radar activated speed display signs
- landscaping of grass and plantings."
Calamint Hill Road North Reconstruction– completed
New Public Safety Building - updated 11/27/19
Annual Town Meeting approved funds for the next phase of the design. A Request for Qualifications was put out and Caolo & Bieniek was selected and begins work on 12/2. The architect will work with volunteers, the Town Administrator, and the Police and Fire Chiefs to develop several designs for a future Public Safety building, both with and without the re-use of a portion of the Princeton Center building. Note that these designs and associated cost estimates will be shared with residents in preparation for a future Town Meeting.
Though we worked diligently to obtain outside funding, we have been disappointed by the feedback we are getting from State agencies. The Selectboard requested a meeting with Senator Chandler, Representative Ferguson, and the State’s Executive Office for Administration and Finance in a continuing effort to secure the release of the Bond Bill funds. We received responses from both of our legislators indicating that although the project is in the bond bill, it is unlikely to be funded, especially without a firm, approved project in place, and is not part of their FY20 Capital Plan which was recently released. The suggestion was made that the pursuit of alternative funding sources, including funds voted at Town Meeting and other grants, would be necessary.
Sale of Mechanics Hall - updated 11/27/19
Based on 2018 Town Meeting authorization to sell Mechanics Hall, the Selectboard formed the Mechanics Hall committee to propose possible deed restrictions to the Selectboard and to determine the process the Town needs to follow for the sale. Based on their recommendations, the Selectboard issued a Request for Proposals (RFP). Those proposals were due to the Town Administrator's office on June 17, 2019 at 1 pm. The Selectboard received one proposal, from Tuohey Contracting of Hubbardston Rd. The Selectboard recently reviewed a proposed Development Agreement prepared by Town Counsel and that agreement will now be sent to Mr. Tuohey for his review and comments. The Development Agreement lays out what each party should expect and discusses the deed restriction that will be placed upon the property.
Sale of Town-Owned Land - updated 11/27/19
Progress is being made on selling Town-owned land. Jim Dunbar, our Treasurer/Collector, is fiduciary and working with the auctioneer for a March sale. Along with Jim, a group consisting of town officials from the Assessor’s Office, Highway Department, Conservation Commission, Planning/Zoning, and the Board of Health identified which parcels might have value on the open market. One property has been sold to the State Department of Conservation and Recreation. Another parcel on Hubbardston Rd has been perc’ed and subdivided into 3 lots with wetland delineation and ANR survey. Another lot on Mountain Rd has been perc’ed and a few additional tests are being considered. A strip along Hubbardston Rd that was on the list seems to have been deemed a park back in time and thus we would be unable to move forward with a sale.
Properties Delinquent in their Taxes
Tax Collector Jim Dunbar has been working on placing tax liens on all properties in town that are behind in their taxes. A tax lien is the first step required for the town to begin the foreclosure process on a property. Taxpayers will have time to pay what they owe and avoid foreclosure. It is important to note that the Town earns a minimum of 14% interest per year on unpaid taxes.
In the past year, the Town has collected $129,047 in delinquent property taxes along with $42,370 in interest on those delinquent taxes. Additionally, the Town has placed an additional $128,000 (approximately) in tax title, which accrues interest at 16%. We will be working toward placing additional properties in Tax Title in the coming months. Currently, the pre 2019 Accounts Receivable balance is approximately $248K, which is down from approximately $426K at the beginning of July 2018. Of the $248K, approximately $131K is from FY 2018.
Bagg Hall Stabilization – updated 11/27/19
2018 Annual Town Meeting authorized us to proceed on stabilizing Bagg Hall. Chris Conway, Steve Mirick, and Jim O'Coin, working with the Town Administrator, selected Spencer, Sullivan & Vogt. SSV began with a thorough survey of the exterior of the building. As expected, significant work will need to be done to stabilize the northwest corner of the building. Early indications are that this might be more costly than originally expected. The team expects to go out to bid on the construction phase of this project in January with construction to begin, hopefully, in April 2020.
Police/Fire Station 1 Stabilization – updated 11/27/19
2018 Annual Town Meeting authorized us to proceed with stabilizing the Police/Fire complex in the Town center. Chris Conway, Steve Mirick, and Jim O'Coin worked with the Town Administrator to select an architect. The design work for this project has been completed and the construction was put out for bid. Unfortunately, we didn’t received any bids from either subcontrators or general contractors the first time it went out. The second time we went out to bid, we received one general contractor bid from P&P and no subcontractor bids. The team was happy with the bid from P&P and they were selected. The bid came in higher than expected for several reasons (increase in scope and very competitive market) and a Special Town Meeting was held on November 21 to move funds around to pay for this project. Funds were moved primarily from the Annex stabilization account since that project was cancelled by the Selectboard. Work will begin on the stabilization in December.
Library Window Replacement
2019 Annual Town Meeting authorized $24,500 for the repair of historical windows at the Library.
Town Administrator Search– completed
Sherry Patch began work on October 21.
DPW Superintendent Search– updated 11/27/19
The Selectboard appointed Ben Metcalf to the position of DPW Superintendent.
Board and Committee Vacancies – updated 11/27/19
There are still many openings that need to be filled. Click here for an updated list. Please note that we are having particular trouble staffing the newly formed Buildings Maintenance Committee. This Committee will play a vital role in translating the maintenance needs of our buildings into a long-term capital plan and we encourage people to apply. Other critical openings remain on the Board of Health, Advisory Committee, Conservation Commission, and Parks & Rec. Feel free to contact any member of the Selectboard or those committees if you have questions.