Wakefield News

PHOTO: Darkness falls

Posted by on Oct 20, 2017 in Wakefield News | Comments Off on PHOTO: Darkness falls

Published in the October 20, 2017 edition

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Underground power line plan debated

Posted by on Oct 20, 2017 in Local Headline News, Wakefield Daily Item, Wakefield News | Comments Off on Underground power line plan debated

Published in the October 20, 2017 edition By MARK SARDELLA WAKEFIELD – The Conservation Commission last night got its first chance to hear about and weigh in on the proposed underground electric transmission line that would run through 3.6 miles of Wakefield on its way to the National Grid Power Station off Montrose Avenue. Originally unveiled in 2015, the proposed project is part of an 8.5 mile underground 345KV transmission line that would run from the Eversource substation on Cove Street in Woburn, through Winchester, Stoneham and Wakefield. The purpose of the project is to maintain the integrity of the bulk power system and to ensure that adequate transmission services are available to meet current and future load demand in the region. While it is a joint project of National Grid and Eversource, the applicant of record for Wakefield permitting is National Grid. Dave Klinch, a wetland scientist with Epsilon Associates, represented National Grid at last night’s opening hearing before the Conservation Commission. Klinch said that the 3.6 miles in Wakefield will include 2.65 miles in the public roadway and just under one mile along an inactive railroad bed. There will also be about six manholes evenly spaced along the Wakefield portion, Klinch said. If the project obtains the required local and state approvals, National Grid hopes to start work in Wakefield in late winter or early spring 2018. Construction on the project would take about 18 months. Klich said that the project would have no direct impact on any vegetated wetland. He said that there would be about 13,000 square feet of work in the riverfront area (primarily the Mill River) and about 41,000 square feet in the buffer zone (half in the railroad bed, half outside the railroad). He said that no work would occur in protected habitat areas. Following the route of the line, he said that it would go through about 200 feet of buffer zone for Crystal Lake, then enter the old railroad right of way Iin the Junction area). The line will then follow the old rail line across Main Street in front of the Galvin Middle School and out to Water Street. When the line reaches Salem Street it would go under the Mill River and continue down Salem Street to Montrose Avenue. Within the old rail right of way is where some work is near the Mill River BVW (bordering vegetated wetland), Klich said. He explained that the underground transmission line will consist of three cables inside a pipe enclosed within a concrete duct bank. He said that the trench enclosing the concrete duct bank would be three feet wide and six to eight feet deep. The top of the duct bank would be two feet underground. Soil dug up from the trench will be trucked away, he said. Asked by a ConCom member about hazardous waste within the railroad right of way, Klinch said that those soils have been tested and they were “not atypical” of railroad soils, but he noted that that data is owned by the MBTA (the owner of the railroad right of way). Conservation Agent Elaine Vreeland wanted to know if there would be a licensed site professional to evaluate hazardous soil conditions. Klinch said that there would be an LSP overseeing the entire project. He...

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Cause of Green St. water main break ‘unknown’

Posted by on Oct 19, 2017 in Local Headline News, Wakefield Daily Item, Wakefield News | Comments Off on Cause of Green St. water main break ‘unknown’

Published in the October 19, 2017 edition By MARK SARDELLA WAKEFIELD — The Board of Selectmen officially declared the water main break that occurred on Green Street on Oct. 10 an emergency repair even as they pressed DPW Director Richard Stinson for an explanation as to why the same main experienced two major breaks within the span of two years. The declaration of an emergency covers the DPW’s need to get contractors on site immediately to repair the break without putting the work out to bid.  The latest break occurred Tuesday morning, Oct. 10 around 1 a.m. Two years ago, the same water main let go further up on Green Street over Columbus day weekend, sending water cascading down Green Street from the Dillaway Street intersection damaging properties and the roadway. Last week’s break happened closer to Main Street. The latest break closed Main Street overnight and Green Street was closed for nearly two days while crews made repairs. DPW Director Richard Stinson appeared before the Board of Selectmen Monday night along with Water Division Superintendent Steven Fitzpatrick to request the declaration of emergency repair. Stinson explained that contractors had to be brought in because his department does not have the equipment needed to fix a break of the size that occurred last week. Stinson said that crews had the water shut off by 2 a.m. In all, nine homes were without water but water was restored to all homes by Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. He said that Main Street was reopened to two lanes of traffic by 8 a.m. The break in the 16-inch main took out a section of the roadway. Stinson said that crews removed about 200 feet of the old water main and replaced it within about 19 hours. He said that within four days the binder was down on the affected section of Green Street and final paving could be done as soon as this week. Stinson said that the cause of the break was unknown. He described different types of corrosion that can affect the pipe, and noted that manufacturing defects, ground movement and freezing and thawing could all be factors in causing the break. He also pointed to the possibility that blasting earlier this year in connection with the new Hallmark Health medical building at 888 Main St., as well as blasting in prior years for other nearby projects could have compromised the 90-year-old main. Asked what the cost will be for the latest break, Stinson said that the break two years ago did more damage and that one cost $150,000 to fix. The price tag for the latest break should be lower he said, but he would have a better idea of the amount in a week or two. Selectman Tony Longo asked Stinson how future such breaks could be prevented.  “We don’t have a lot of breaks,” the DPW Director said, but added that the town needs to have a replacement program for water mains and needs to fund such a program. “We go through the whole town every year doing leak detection and fix whatever we find,” Stinson said. Selectman Edward Dombroski asked Stinson if he could understand why people lose confidence in the system after two major breaks in two years on the same street. Stinson said that he could understand it,...

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Vietnam Veterans commemoration and Veterans Day activities

Posted by on Oct 19, 2017 in Local Headline News, Wakefield Daily Item, Wakefield News | Comments Off on Vietnam Veterans commemoration and Veterans Day activities

Published in the October 19, 2017 edition WAKEFIELD — Wakefield’s Veterans Service Officer, Karen Burke, and the Wakefield Veterans Advisory Board (VAB) would like to announce a date change for an upcoming event and to welcome all of Wakefield’s veterans to attend these events. The Wakefield VAB plans to conduct two events to recognize local veterans of the Vietnam War. This initiative is the focus of the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, a national 50th anniversary commemoration authorized by Congress, established under the secretary of defense, and launched by the president in May 2012. This commemoration includes all 7 million U.S. veterans who served on active duty from Nov. 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975. For the purposes of this commemoration, no distinction is being made between veterans who served in-country, in-theater, or who were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period. For the first event, all Vietnam veterans are welcome to attend the November 10 Wakefield Warrior football game (please note that this is a new game date).   All veterans in attendance will be recognized at the game and in pre-game ceremonies. Veterans who are interested in participating in this observance are asked to contact Veterans Service Officer (VSO) Karen Burke at 781-246-6377. (Please note that this is a correction to the phone number) The second event will be held in conjunction with Wakefield’s Veterans Day observance. The Vietnam War Commemoration Program is providing Vietnam Veteran lapel pins to living U.S. military veterans who served during the Vietnam War period as “A Lasting Memento of the Nation’s Thanks!” Living United States veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time during the period of November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location, are eligible to receive one lapel pin.  A “pinning ceremony” will be held during the town’s Veterans Day observance. As has been our custom, the observance will be held on Veterans Day, November 11, in Veterans Memorial Auditorium at the Galvin Middle School. The Galvin Middle School staff and student body have also extended an invitation to all Wakefield veterans to attend the school’s Veterans Day observances that will be held on Thursday, November 9. They will host a 5th and 6th Grade Assembly at the Galvin Middle School Auditorium at 8:45 a.m., 7th and 8th Grade Assembly at 10 a.m. Please RSVP to 781-246-6410 extension: 24012. Additional information and details pertaining to the Veterans Day programs will be provided in the coming weeks. All veterans are encouraged to contact VSO Burke for additional information or to confirm their attendance at these...

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PHOTO: Railroses

Posted by on Oct 19, 2017 in Wakefield News | Comments Off on PHOTO: Railroses

Published in the October 19, 2017 edition

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Public Safety Building fix will cost $7.7M

Posted by on Oct 18, 2017 in Wakefield News | Comments Off on Public Safety Building fix will cost $7.7M

Published in the October 18, 2017 edition By MARK SARDELLA WAKEFIELD — The town has settled on a plan to rectify the deficiencies on the police side of the Public Safety Building and the $7.7 million-solution involves expanding the building out by 10 feet in the rear and 14 feet in front. Space inside would then be reconfigured to best serve the needs of the Police Department. Town officials hope to bring the plan to Annual Town Meeting next spring. If approved, construction could begin in 2019 and finished by early 2021. Permanent Building Committee Chairman Joseph Bertrand and Janet Slemenda of HKT Architects in Somerville met with the Board of Selectmen this week to go over the proposed upgrades to the 15-year-old Public Safety Building. Bertrand pointed out that the initial study for the existing Public Safety Building was completed in 1998, meaning that the programming review process for the current building is already almost 20 years old. He added that after the last reconstruction of the Public Safety Building was finished, the Police Department had less space than they had before. He noted that there have been vast changes in the service and operational needs of modern law enforcement agencies in the past two decades and the present building is now inadequate to meet those needs.  He said that in September 2016, HKT Architects was selected by the town to conduct a feasibility study for the Public Safety Building. This work included a review of the existing facility, an assessment of safety and operational aspects of the building and an evaluation of current and future space needs for the Police Department and Fire Department, although the primary focus was on the police side, which has the most pressing needs. The PBC  and HKT worked closely with the police administration and officers to determine the current and future building needs of the Police Department. The plan they settled on includes reconfiguring and renovating the first floor entry and lobby sequence, adding a three-story addition in front of the police building, renovations within the existing police Administration Building and a new addition onto the sally port in the rear. The new plan will also place police dispatch back on the first floor, meaning there will always be a police officer visible when someone enters the lobby. Slemenda reviewed some of the findings of HKT’s study. She said that there was a shortage of space in the sally port and no area for the police to impound vehicles. A site blind analysis, she said, found that the Police Department was in need of 4,100 square feet of additional space. She said that structural engineers determined that the current roof of the building could not support a vertical addition, so the decision was made to expand out horizontally. A new lobby would be put in with dispatch and the records office off the lobby so an officer would be there 24/7. Other areas within the building would be reconfigured to better meet the needs of a 21st century police department. Selectman Ann Santos, an attorney who worked for years as a prosecutor, said that she had an opportunity to tour the current police headquarters and was “shocked” by how inadequate it was for present day law enforcement needs. She observed that the dispatch area was inadequate and there was nowhere to privately interview a victim of...

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Talking while walking

Posted by on Oct 17, 2017 in Wakefield News | Comments Off on Talking while walking

Published in the October 17, 2017 edition.

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Taxes going up

Posted by on Oct 17, 2017 in Wakefield News | Comments Off on Taxes going up

By MARK SARDELLA WAKEFIELD — Wakefield’s residential taxpayers will pay, on average, 5 percent more than this year than they did last year, and commercial/industrial property (CIP) owners will pay an average of 5.65 percent more than last year. The Board of Selectmen set the new tax rate for FY 2018 last night after holding the annual tax classification hearing. As has been their longstanding practice, the board set the rates in such a way as to afford residential property owners the lowest allowable rate under law, with the commercial/industrial sector picking up the difference. Director of Assessments Victor Santaniello made his recommendations to the selectmen, with Board of Assessors members Yano Tine and Jan D’Addario alongside. In approving Santaniello’s recommendations, the selectmen set the residential tax rate at $12.95 per $1,000 of valuation. The CIP rate was set at $25.61. That translates to a residential tax bill of $6,455 on the average single-family home valued at $498,500. The average commercial property valued at $1,311,200 will pay $33,580 in taxes in the current fiscal year. “For the past several years,” Santaniello said, “the Board of Selectmen has opted to raise the tax levy less than the allowable Proposition 2 1/2 limit.” They have elected to do the same thing this year, he noted. “By not raising this additional $627,000 of tax levy, the residential tax rate is reduced by $0.12 and the CIP rate reduced by $0.23. It translates into a $60 average savings for residential taxpayers and $301 for CIP classes of properties.” He pointed out that the Galvin Middle School debt exclusion increases the average residential tax bill by just over $200 and adds just over $1,000 to the average commercial tax bill. “FY 2018 is the fourth year of the full debt exclusion for the new Galvin Middle School,” Santaniello noted. “The debt exclusion adds $2,408,672 to the town’s FY 2018 total tax levy. It adds $0.44 to the residential tax rate or $219 to the average single-family tax bill, and $0.88 to the CIP Rate or $1,154 to the average commercial tax bill.” He noted that the number of home sales in Wakefield have been stable, with 218 in 2015 and 231 in 2016. The average sale price in 2015 was $492,971, and $513,956 (+ 4.25 percent) in 2016. Santaniello also presented a comparison of tax rates in towns contiguous to Wakefield and noted that with the exception of Saugus, which has the Route 1 business district, residential properties in Wakefield realize the lowest possible share of the local tax burden. Selectman Edward Dombroski questioned Santaniello about the 5 percent tax hike, noting that most taxpayers are not seeing a 5 percent increase in their incomes. He wanted to know what the board could do to help homeowners. “I don’t think residents can keep pace,” he said, noting that in 2006 the average residential tax bill was $3,828 and it will now be $6,455. He also noted that residential water bills also go up every year, adding to the burden on the single-family home owner. “I just think we need to do better,” he said. “I don’t want to see taxpayers priced out of the community.” Santaniello noted that the selectmen had already increased the exemption for senior citizens. He noted that stimulating more commercial development could help to lessen the burden...

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WPD awarded “certification” status

Posted by on Oct 16, 2017 in Wakefield News | Comments Off on WPD awarded “certification” status

Published in the October 16, 2017 edition. On Oct. 12, 2017, the Wakefield Police Department received state Certification from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission for the third time since 2011. Attending the award reception were Police Chief Rick Smith, Deputy Chief Craig Calabrese, Lieutenant Scott Reboulet, Lieutenant Steve Skory, and Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio. Certification is a self-initiated evaluation process by which police departments strive to meet and maintain standards that have been established for the profession, by the profession. These carefully selected standards reflect critical areas of police management, operations, and technical support activities. They cover areas such as policy development, emergency response planning, training, communications, property and evidence handling, use of force, vehicular pursuit, prisoner transportation and holding facilities. The program not only sets standards for the law enforcement profession, but also for the delivery of police services to the citizens of the commonwealth. “Achieving Certification from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission is considered a very significant accomplishment and is a recognition that is highly regarded by the law enforcement community,” said Donna Taylor Mooers, the Commission’s Executive Director.” Going through the process initially requires intense self-scrutiny, and ultimately provides a quality assurance review of the agency. The agency must prepare for the on-site review of the 159 standards by the Commission, and requires commitment from all officers. The standards for certification impact officer and public safety, address high liability/risk management issues, and promote operational efficiency throughout the agency. The department was assessed in June by a team of Commission-appointed assessors. Certification has been granted for a period of three years. Participation in the program is strictly...

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ACO: Coyote numbers have not increased

Posted by on Oct 13, 2017 in Wakefield News | Comments Off on ACO: Coyote numbers have not increased

Published in the October 13, 2017 edition. By MARK SARDELLA WAKEFIELD — If you go by social media, you might conclude that there has been an explosion in the coyote population in and around Wakefield. Not so, says Ken Stache, Wakefield’s Animal Control Officer for the last 30 years. “In all the years that I’ve been doing this job, I have not seen an increase in the population of coyotes,” Stache said. Although any animal population can experience a little spurt in numbers, Stache added, “Over the years I have not seen a drastic increase in reports or in the number of encounters people have with coyotes.” What seems like an increase in coyote sightings is likely in part a function of social media, according to Stache. If someone posts a sighting of a coyote near Four Corners and a while later someone reports seeing one in Forest Glade Cemetery and then some time after that, one is spotted near the Prime Gas Station on Lowell Street, it sounds like a lot of coyote sightings. “Most likely it’s the same coyote,” Stache said. Stache said that coyotes tend not to be a threat to humans. “People ask if are they dangerous to us,” Stache said. “They’re certainly going to view your small pet as a meal. But statistics do not show Eastern coyotes or coywolves as dangerous to humans. There have been only five coyote attacks on humans in Massachusetts since the 1950s. It is a fraction of the number of dog attacks on humans in that same period. The reality is you are more likely to get injured by your own animal then a coyote. About 2 percent of the United States population are bitten by dogs each year.” Stache pointed out that of those five documented cases of coyote attacks on humans, three of the animals were found to be sick or rabid and the remaining two were cases where people had been feeding them and got too close. “In Wakefield, I’ve never had one report of people attacked by a coyote,” Stache said. “You are more likely to have an issue with a racoon. Coyotes don’t want to have anything to do with humans. They’d rather not have any interaction at all.” He pointed out that coyotes will expand their territories in search of food and they will go after pets such as cats or small dogs. “If they get the opportunity to take a cat,” he said. “They’ll take it. When people are losing their pets, like cats that have never been found and there are no clues to what happened to them, it’s a good possibility it was a coyote or a fox. “I can’t tell you how many lost cat reports I get in a week,” he said. “You’ve got to keep them indoors. Don’t let them out. If you have a small dog, don’t let it out unattended.” While coyotes have a negative image with many people, Stache says it’s not that simple. “Coyotes actually serve a great purpose,” he said. “They control the rodent population. They keep other populations in check that can be more detrimental, like squirrels, chipmunks mice and rats that tend to want to take over your home.” Even in the case of rabbits, which people see as cute and cuddly, Stache...

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