The fifth night of Natick Spring Annual Town Meeting started on an optimistic note, with Moderator Frank Foss pledging his faith in Town Meeting members to finish up with the handful of remaining articles that evening. Indeed, just under four hours later, the meeting was dissolved with a “Thank you very much… Good work to get it done in five nights” from the moderator.
About half of this meeting was devoted to the South Natick Dam, with Articles 33, 34 and 35 related to it, plus a sprinkling of dam-related comments (Why doesn’t the liability-focused town stick some safety buoys above the spillway? Why spend tens of thousands on dam park design so far in advance of spillway removal?) shared during questions and debate on spending articles earlier in the night. So let’s get right to the dam-related articles.
Dam, Dam & Dam articles
The Natick Select Board voted in November against repairing the South Natick Dam and spillway (aka, waterfall) and in favor of removing the town’s most iconic site. It proved difficult for the Select Board to swim upstream against a strong environmental current to remove the dam in an effort to return it to some semblance of its more natural state. Plus, the Board was convinced that this approach could save Natick money. Those in favor of repairing the site argued for its historical and aesthetic importance, and point to appropriations voted on at recent Town Meetings to fund a fix.
Article 33, a citizen petition, involved Natick’s legislative body discussing the final committee report of the now-dissolved Charles River Dam Advisory Committee, which recommended spillway removal after its review of the issue over 18 months. The report was presented by the committee to the Select Board prior to its decision on the dam (no current or scheduled Select Board agendas have the topic of the dam on them).
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Moderator Foss initially tried to get Town Meeting to focus on whether or not to discuss the final report, as requested in the main motion, and this proved a bit difficult. Those in favor of discussion (including Save Natick Dam supporters) feel passionately [Read more…]