Town Meeting Day 3: Voters Keep Wastewater Management Separate, Vote Down Sale of Town-Owned Land
Wayland's annual town meeting concludes on its third day.
It took nearly 12 hours over the course of three days, but Wayland’s annual town meeting has now drawn to a close with all 25 articles in the 2011 Annual Town Meeting Warrant having been disposed of.
In truth, it took about eight hours to get through Articles 1-7 and only four-and-a-half hours to dispose of Articles 8 through 25. (See Day 1 coverage and Day 2 coverage).
Day 3, Monday night back at Wayland Middle School, was characterized by a moderator on a mission. Early in the evening, moderator Peter Gossels joked, “double time, double time,” as voters made their way to mics to speak.
“We’re going to make up the time,” Gossells told the crowd, going on to say that his goal was to wrap up town meeting that night.
It would require a motion to extend the meeting beyond its scheduled 10:30 p.m. adjournment, but Gossels proved correct and town meeting did wrap up Monday at 11:05 p.m.
The business on Day 3 largely proved less controversial than the business of previous days as articles 8 through 25 – brought to the floor Monday night – were not budget articles and involved little in the way of money debate.
That’s not to say, however, that debate didn’t occur. In fact, Article 18, an article that involved “no additional fiscal burden or risk,” according to article presenter Fred Knight, eventually led to the only standing teller count of the evening.
Article 18 proposed authorizing the Board of Selectmen to take steps with the state to implement an amended version of the act that established Wayland’s Department of Public Works. The amendments to the act involved “abolishing the Wayland Wastewater Management District Commission and transferring its authority and powers to the Board of Public Works effective July 1, 2012.”
“This article  proposes a start in order to consolidate all functions having to do with water under one department,” explained Knight, chair of the Wastewater Management Commission, calling the article a “first step” in the process.
Voters, however, expressed concerns that moving the Wastewater Management Commission under the Board of Public Works would involve “concentrating the decision making in very few hands,” according to resident John Dyer.
“We seem to be moving more and more toward a concentration of powers in the hands of a few individuals,” resident Mark Santangelo added.
Board of Public Works member Mike Lowery replied that this consolidation was a “natural fit” in terms of operational efficiencies and would actually create more transparency.
An additional concern was that wastewater management operates as an enterprise fund, meaning user fees pay for the service, not tax dollars. Some residents expressed concerns that keeping a firm line between the enterprise fund and tasks paid for through tax dollars would be more difficult should wastewater management come under the Board of Public Works.
The electronic voting technology used on Days 1 and 2 of town meeting was no longer available on Day 3 (the company offering the trial service only planned for two nights), so voice votes were the method of the evening.
Voting on Article 18, however, proved too close to call via voice vote and Gossels called for a standing vote. Gossels ruled in favor of the “nays,” but enough voters protested his decision that a teller count was conducted.
The teller count showed that the nays carried the vote 106 to 70, and Article 18 failed.
The only other article that failed was Article 22, a proposal to sell town-owned land at 24 and 26 Lakeshore Drive.
While no building can be built on the two individual parcels in discussion, they are too small, residents expressed discomfort with the possibility that the four adjoining plots on Lakeshore Drive could be purchased by a single owner who could then build on the combined plots.
“I think the town should know what it’s selling,” resident Molly Upton said.
Article 22 required a two-thirds majority to pass, which Gossels determined he could not call on the voice vote. A standing vote, however, proved sufficient evidence that the required two-thirds majority did not support the article and it failed.
For a recap of action taken, and amendments passed, with each article, see “Pass or Fail: Recapping Action on Articles at Wayland Town Meeting.”