Thursday, April 30, 2015

Improvements of conservation land at Cedar Woods approved by Town Meeting

Destruction of wetland setbacks at Cedar Woods (above) will be a thing of the past. Town Meeting approved monies for cleaning and protecting Cedar Woods for future walking trail.

Waverly Street gateway to Downtown Framingham: Sale of Silton Glass property and land swap offer great opportunities

Building suggestion at Waverly and Mellen Streets / George Lewis

Silton Glass at Waverly and Mellen Streets

Idea for the Waverly Street entrance to Cedar Woods Conservation Trail / George Lewis

Proposed landscaped entrance to Cedar Woods Conservation Trail is highlighted.
 Frontage of parking lots on Waverly Street should include trees and shrubs.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Voting and demographics: A point of view from 2005

NOTE: Although this news article was published in 2005, the subjects are very much current. Recently, there have been discussions regarding this year's very low voter turnout and disparity of citizen participation. Read for yourself and decide if the views in 2005 are the same today.

Was the political deck stacked against a new library in Framingham?
by Ray Hainer, Commonwealth Magazine, April 1, 2005

Route 9 slices the state’s biggest town almost perfectly in two, and the two halves have come to resemble each other less and less. If you live on the north side, chances are that you make more money than the average resident on the south side. You’re also more likely to own your home and have a college degree. And you’re far more likely to be a white Anglo, as Framingham’s growing immigrant population, most notably Brazilian, is concentrated in the town’s southernmost neighborhoods. Framingham residents may not think about the schism on a daily basis, but this geographical division may have cost the town $1.65 million in state aid, earmarked for the rebuilding of the McAuliffe branch library on the north side. At a special town meeting in March, library proponents won 95-51, but with a turnout of 150, that was five votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to move the project ahead—and the lack of support from south side representatives proved to be fatal.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Is Framingham Headed for Disaster?

Comments by Deborah Butler, TMM Precinct 7 

Eurie A. Stamps, Sr.
Listening to the plans for discretionary construction projects, as they are described to the Board of Selectmen and various committees, gives me an uncomfortable feeling like we’re arranging chairs on the Titanic! While I’m not advocating austerity budgeting I wonder if the Estate of Eurie A. Stamps, Sr. v. Town of Framingham case in Federal Court could leave the Town reeling to the likes of which we haven’t seen since the $1M SMOC settlement. Attached (below) is Judge Saylor’s summary judgment memorandum and order affirming two of the ten counts in the original complaint that causes me this angst. I’ve yet to hear a word from the CFO or Town Manager about the wisdom of curbing multi-million dollar projects such as Loring Arena and the Athenaeum until the Stamps case is resolved and the financial implications, if any, are known. Given the $1.6M gap in the school budget and a pending tax override vote can we really afford to continue down this path?
Click on photo to read document

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Flashback to a health issue

July 2, 2011: Business owner says messy conditions don't affect the quality of his work. The mess, he said, doesn't get in the way of him making a good product. What was it that caused an uproar?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Experiences of dual property tax rates in Worcester

Revaluation Results Lead To Questions About Process
Worcester Business Journal, May 29, 2012

For cities like Worcester, Fitchburg and Marlborough, with dual property tax rates, the triennial state-required property revaluation can get complicated, as evidenced by the recent uproar over Worcester's latest assessments, which more than doubled the values of some commercial and industrial properties over 2011.

“I can tell you that the feedback from our clients is really of shock. Most of them are completely shocked and confused, and it's really a tough blow to landlords that have been really struggling for the past five years,” said Matthew J. Mayrand, vice president of real estate brokerage firm Kelleher & Sadowsky Associates Inc. of Worcester. “I think there's almost a perception that you're dealing with all these extremely wealthy business owners and in many cases, it's small businesses that are struggling.”

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Marathon 2015: Enjoy but be wise

Get on board. The 2015 Boston Marathon is passing through Framingham on April 20.

Join the fun, but be mindful of guidelines set by the Department of Home Security's "If you SEE Something, SAY Something" national campaign while attending the Marathon race this year. Spectators are being asked for their cooperation in following reasonable and common sense guidelines that will help ensure the safety and security of participants, volunteers and spectators.

Antique postcard (c: 1910) and Marathon runners (2013) composite
Spectators intending on watching the 2015 Boston Marathon from anywhere along the 26.2 mile course should expect a significant presence of uniformed and plain clothed police officers. Spectators approaching viewing areas on the course, or in viewing areas on the course, may be asked to pass through security checkpoints, and law enforcement officers or contracted private security personnel may ask to inspect bags and other items being carried. To avoid delays, spectators are encouraged not to carry any of the items listed below.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Cedar Woods: Recent photographs

Decayed tree trunks are natural safe havens for birds and small animals
Signs of spring when Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) flowers start to make an
appearance. The insects that pollinate it are attracted by its odor,
which resembles decaying flesh.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hoarding in a New Age

Drowning in Email, Photos, Files? Hoarding Goes Digital
by Melinda Beckfrom Wall Street Journal 

Digital hoarding is a huge problem. There is so much available storage, we don't have to make decisions anymore. The problem isn't that it slows down your computer—it slows down your brain,"
since each of those photos, links and folders demands some mental energy.
Of course, plenty of people manage to keep vast collections of emails, files and digital media organized and accessible, cutting down on physical clutter in their lives. Kathy Riemer, a communications consultant in Chicago, says her "digital retentiveness"—including 2,400 Word documents and 39,575 business emails, divided into 69 file groups—enhances her productivity and gives her peace of mind. "Saving it all helps me avoid recreating an already-built wheel and enables me to provide historic context for long-term projects," she says.

There isn't a set number of emails in an inbox or photos saved that defines a hoarder. Accumulating crosses the line into hoarding, experts say, when it is disorganized and dysfunctional and gets in the way of other relationships and responsibilities.

Framingham Taxpayers Association holds well-attended event

(Information about Saturday's Framingham Taxpayers Association meeting at Heritage House to come)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Take The Needle Out Of Our Vein

"There's no crisis in Framingham", at least in taxes, according to comments said to be made by some Town insiders. Indeed, property taxes will be remain relatively stable, so say reports attributed to officials in the Administration. But, to the rank and file of taxpayers, it would be most wise for them to remember the biblical story of Joseph in ancient Egypt, and its warnings about how to prepare for problems in the immediate future.

Larry Schmeidler,
Pct 4, FTPA Board Member
The Framingham Taxpayers Association (FTPA) will once again play Joseph -- as it did in 2012 -- basing its statistical analyses on data provided in budget and tax projections, benchmarking of other towns and cities, corrective action taken by Worcester in eliminating manual overrides (special discounts), to name just a few elements. This effort will not be just a one-shot deal. It will be carried over into the Annual Town Meeting, a planned Special Town Meeting, and a possible town-wide referendum on an issue, if necessary.

It will also and hopefully be carried forward on social electronic media -- YouTube, Facebook, Twitter; blogs, and other electronic media -- so that the average taxpayers can ask questions and have a say on how their money is spent. News and commentary will thus not be "managed" in the traditional manner.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Promising news for a skatepark

At last night's meeting of the Standing Committee on Ways and Means, Judith Grove, Town Meeting member, Precinct 15 Chair and a member of Ways and Means, presented a Town Meeting Article of the Skatepark.  The slide presentation provided a great amount of researched information and statistics. Mrs. Grove expects the Skatepark to cost $350,000 with the Town providing $175,000 and Framingham Skateboard Committee raising $175,000.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Creativity, coordination and athleticism of ice skating vs. skate boarding

Compare skateboarding to ice skating. Change the skates to boards, ice for concrete. Both are singular sports and allow players to compete with others on an individual basis.  Both activities involve creativity, coordination and athleticism. As with freestyle ice skating, the spins and jumps come after you have learned the basics.

Related articles:

      Parents speak up for a skatepark
      Miconceptions of a skateboarder

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Construction of the H.H. Richardson Train Station

A massive train improvement program began in 1881 by the Boston & Albany Railroad that included the building of over 30 new stations. Famed architect H. H. Richardson was hired to design nine of these stations, including South Framingham which was commissioned in October 1883. The $62,718 station, built in 1884-85 by the Norcross Brothers company, was the largest and costliest of the nine. The station is a prime example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style, built of rough-hewn granite with contrasting details. The dominant roofline,

dormers, arched bow window, and wooden interior are typical of the style. Like many of Richardson's designs, the station was well-praised; Henry-Russell Hitchcock called it a "better and somewhat more personal work" in The Architecture of H.H. Richardson and His Time. A small square baggage room was built in the same style just east of the station, near the Concord Street (Route 126) grade crossing.

  Henry Hobson Richardson, or better known as H. H. Richardson, was born on September 29, 1838 in
St. James Parish, Louisiana. After spending his youth in both Louisiana and New Orleans,
Richardson initially attended Harvard University to study Civil Engineering. Realizing his true interest
was in architecture, he attended the famous École des Beaux-Arts in Paris until money ran out
towards the end of the US Civil War in 1865.

Fire Safety for Seniors

Cooking was the Leading Cause of Fire Injury to Seniors
   • Seniors were at the greatest risk for cooking injuries; 36% of all fire injuries to seniors were from cooking fires. Electrical fires were the second leading cause of injury to seniors at 16%.
   • Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when cooking. Loose sleeves easily catch fire.
   • Stand by your pan! Never leave cooking unattended. If you must leave the kitchen while you are cooking, take a potholder or cooking spoon with you as a reminder.
   • Put a lid on stovetop fires to put them out.