Blue flasher light of siren of police car
An investigation is ongoing into a robbery of the TD Bank Lowell St. location Thursday. (Courtesy of Envato Elements)

Good morning and welcome to this week’s LexObserver roundup.

We hope today’s edition will help you understand what to expect at Spring Town Meeting(s), which kick off Monday evening. We plan to report on Town Meeting debates and outcomes for the next few weeks in this newsletter; if you have specific questions that you would like us to consider covering, you can reach out to 

Now, this week’s news:


Week of March 26: Lexington News Roundup

Reported by Sophie Culpepper


  • Bank Robbery: Lowell St. TD Bank robbed Thursday; investigation is ongoing.
  • How does Town Meeting work?
  • On Monday, Town Meeting is scheduled to debate and vote on appropriating $32.4 million in construction funds for a new police station. What do you need to know?
  • COVID-19 Weekly Update: Cases rose slightly this week, but remain low; Town Dashboard will no longer post weekly case counts.
  • Community Announcements: In A Different Key Screening and Panel; League of Women Voters First Friday will discuss elections in Lexington, Town Clerk role.

​​Ongoing investigation into Thursday’s bank robbery

  • On Thursday around 5:35 p.m, a bank robbery took place at the 419 Lowell St. location of TD Bank, Lexington Police Captain of Operations Chris Barry wrote in an email to LexObserver Friday. The bank was still open for business at that time, and the police “were notified by way of an alarm that originated at the bank.”

  • “An undisclosed amount of cash was taken by the only suspect,” Barry wrote, adding that “no one was injured and the community is not in any danger at this time.”

  • The suspect departed on foot, Barry wrote, “and is believed to [have] gotten into a nearby vehicle and headed in the direction of Burlington.” 

  • Similar robberies have taken place within the past month or two in some nearby towns, Barry noted.

  • The Lexington Police Department is “currently being assisted by other agencies to investigate and solve this crime,” Barry wrote. The investigation is ongoing, limiting the amount of information that can currently be shared. An individual at the TD Bank Lowell St. location directed LexObserver to the Police Department and declined to comment at this time.


The basics: How does Town Meeting work?

  • In case you missed it: Last fall, prior to November’s Special Town Meeting, we published an explainer about how Town Meeting works covering everything from the number of members elected to Town Meeting; to what ‘warrant,’ articles’ and ‘consent agenda’ mean; to why Town Meeting matters to non-members. Last week, we covered the Select Board’s decision to hold this spring’s series of Town Meetings virtually.


  • When does Spring Town Meeting start, and how long does it last? Town Meeting Moderator Deborah Brown, who was reelected unopposed to the position she has held for over a decade earlier this month, shared a tentative schedule of this year’s Town Meeting with elected members March 18. Spring Town Meeting will begin on Monday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m.; members will join using the Town Meeting Portal, while non-members can tune in via LexMedia. Town Meeting is set to continue on Mondays and Wednesdays through late March and into April until at least Wednesday, April 13 – for a minimum of six evening sessions over three weeks, with April 25 and April 27 held as backups should scheduled business not conclude on the planned dates. If last fall’s Special Town Meeting is any indication (when the first scheduled session was stymied by technical difficulties, and a marathon four evenings of meetings in a row took place in its final extraordinary week), at least one of those backup dates will be needed. By multiple accounts, last fall’s STM was atypical…time will tell.


  • This spring, Town Meeting is comprised of ‘2022-1 Special Town Meeting,’ ‘2022 Annual Town Meeting,’ and ‘2022-2 Special Town Meeting.’ What do those divisions mean – what’s the difference? The Town Meeting that occurs every spring is called ‘Annual Town Meeting.’ You could be forgiven for concluding that all of the Monday and Wednesday sessions over the next several weeks must be part of ‘Annual Town Meeting’ – but, technically, it’s more complicated. Why? Most importantly, the quicker dissolution of a Special Town Meeting (which has fewer articles than an Annual Town Meeting) will allow the Town to act faster on certain votes which will have multiple time-sensitive next steps – specifically, approving funding for the new police station in STM 1, and the High School Feasibility Study funds in STM 2. Additionally, 2022-2 Special Town Meeting was called later than the Annual Town Meeting and the 2022-1 Special Town Meeting because the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) only voted to invite Lexington into their eligibility process for a new or renovated high school this month – over a month after the official notification of the 2022 ATM and 2022-1 STM was sent to residents. The high school decision, by necessitating another warrant officially informing residents of another STM, presented an opportunity to add a couple of other articles; “New things popped up,” Select Board member Joe Pato explained.


  • What kinds of topics will be addressed at Town Meeting? Articles up for debate at this spring’s Town Meetings address everything from major Town building projects, to environmental initiatives, to zoning changes, to how town money is spent. Between this spring’s Annual and Special Town Meetings, articles on this year’s agenda include:

    • Funding authorizations for major town construction projects such as the new permanent police station (Article 2, 2022-01 STM) and funding for a feasibility study for a new or renovated high school (Article 2, 2022-02 STM);

    • Typical items such as appropriating for the future fiscal year’s operating budget (Article 4, ATM);

    • Appropriations for specific programs and projects including moving the town’s Climate Action Plan forward (Article 7, ATM), and Community Preservation Act projects and the Community Preservation Committee operating budget (Article 10, ATM); 

    • Different citizen petitions such as a Zero Waste Resolution (Article 27, ATM) and a Humane Pet Store Bylaw change which would prohibit brick-and-mortar pet stores from selling dogs, cats or rabbits in Lexington with the goal of reducing “the marketplace for puppy mill animals” (Article 28, ATM). 

    • A number of zoning articles, including a revised proposal to amend the Zoning Bylaw to allow Open Space Residential Developments (OSRDs – Article 35, ATM). A previous version of this article was narrowly defeated at Special Town Meeting last fall; we plan to report more on this and other zoning articles in a future newsletter edition.


  • On which days will specific issues be discussed and voted on? Within the tentative schedule, only a few articles are designated as “date certain,” meaning their date of discussion are not subject to change:

    • Wednesday, April 6: The Zero Waste Resolution (Article 27, ATM) and Humane Pet Store Bylaw change (Article 28, ATM) will both be up for debate.

    • Wednesday, April 13: Zoning Article 38 (ATM), which would create a Planned Development District PD-6 as outlined in a preliminary plan at 128 Spring St. and 95 Hayden Ave, and Zoning Article 39 (ATM) about rezoning a current Residential RO District to build a lab at 475 Bedford St, which many neighborhood residents have vocally opposed. We plan to report more on this and other zoning articles in a future newsletter edition.

    • Additionally, both Special Town Meetings have dates designated in their warrants: 2022-1 Special Town Meeting (and the police station debate) will begin on Monday, March 28, while 2022-2 Special Town Meeting (and the high school feasibility study debate) will begin Monday, April 11.


  • As a non-Town Meeting Member, can I ask questions or make comments on articles? Yes: Lexington residents can submit questions about an article in any of the three 2022 Spring Town Meetings online here. If you live or work in Lexington, you can submit a comment about a Town Meeting article, and may also request that it be read at Town Meeting, here. The process for public participation in remote Town Meetings differs from the process for in-person Town Meetings; at in-person meetings, members of the public typically speak at a live microphone without submitting comments in advance. At last fall’s remote Special Town Meeting, Public Information Officer Sean Dugan read comments submitted by members of the public.


On Monday, Town Meeting is scheduled to debate and vote on appropriating $32.4 million in construction funds for a new police station. What do you need to know?

  • The big topic of discussion on Monday will be the appropriation of funding to build a new police station (Article 2, 2022-01 STM). This project has a significant price tag: Town Meeting will debate and vote on a motion to appropriate $32.4 million for the project. 


  • Why $32.4M? The new police station is a long time coming: Donham and Sweeney Architects conducted a study in 2011 which concluded that the current police station does not meet the needs of a modern police force, and Special Town Meeting appropriated funding for feasibility of siting, constructing and equipping a new police station to meet modern needs back in 2016, according to the Select Board’s statement about Article 2. A presentation at Annual Town Meeting in 2018 estimated that the new police station would cost about $25.4 million; the estimated costs of subsequent design iterations fluctuated, but had returned to this number by spring of 2020. Following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer, the project was put on hold for just over a year to allow for community conversations about race, social justice and policing. The pandemic has dramatically driven up construction and labor costs since the $25.4 million estimate; furthermore, community input from those conversations led to project changes resulting in almost 4,000 square feet being added to the new station design, from designated space for social and mental health workers to collaborate with officers, to an increase to the lobby size. These factors contributed to the roughly $7 million cost increase. While the number Town Meeting will vote on is finalized, a value engineering process to find targeted ways to reduce the cost of the project is ongoing; the Permanent Building Committee (PBC) discussed ways to scale back the cost Thursday, and expressed support for about $725,000 in savings from certain changes to the project. The Select Board will weigh in on the value engineering process at a future meeting.


  • A question for the voters: Town Meeting’s vote on this appropriation is only the first step toward securing the funding. “Appropriating $32.4 million,” in practice, will mean borrowing money to finance the police station; to repay the money borrowed, Lexington will need to raise property taxes until any such borrowing is repaid, and this can only be done with the approval of voters. Should Town Meeting approve Article 2, a debt exclusion vote will be held in June. According to Assistant Town Manager for Finance Carolyn Kosnoff’s estimate at a March 10 Town Meeting Member Association Q&A, current planning means the full project cost will be issued as excluded debt to be paid back over about 20 to 30 years, and the cost to taxpayers will peak at the beginning. For residents owning homes of average value, current projections suggest the cost will amount to “in the ballpark of $260 [per] year,” or about $22 per month, Kosnoff said.


  • How the police station moved forward last fall: At Special Town Meeting last fall, Town Meeting approved other funding related to the new police station in two parts: 1) Additional funding for the design, engineering and architectural services of the new police station (Article 5a: $255,000), and 2) funding for the renovation of 173 Bedford St. to serve as the temporary police station during construction of the permanent station (Article 5b: $615,000). Article 5a passed unanimously (with three abstentions), while Article 5b passed with an overwhelming majority of votes (87.9% votes in support). The outcomes of these recent votes suggest widespread Town Meeting member support for and understanding of the need for a new police station. But, that doesn’t mean Town Meeting Members aren’t debating details of the new police station design, and they are likely to continue doing so next week. 


  • Solar-ready, but the specific solar design is a decision for later: The new Police Station will be solar-ready – but “work is continuing to find an appropriate solar design which is satisfactory to all stakeholders, including the Historic Districts Commission,” according to the Select Board’s statement in support of Article 2. (The police station is located in one of the town’s Historic Districts.) On Monday, the Select Board voted to support bringing a solar project “satisfactory to the stakeholders” to a future Town Meeting, with Fall Town Meeting 2022 as the goal; they hope that the solar project will be constructed at the same time as the police station “to maximize efficiencies with the site contractor.” 


  • The Hosmer House has to move, but its fate remains unclear: The Hosmer House, a historic house in Lexington, will need to be moved to make room for the new police station. Among ideas for solar designs, the Historic Districts Commission is currently in the early stages of discussing one possibility which would incorporate the Hosmer House into neighboring Fletcher Field, and use this as an additional surface for solar panels to power the police station.


  • A renewed emphasis on guaranteeing space for social and mental health workers: Since a Lexington resident with mental health issues was killed by a Lexington police officer in February, multiple community members have emphasized the importance of ensuring that the designated space for social and mental health workers is included in the new building. Police Chief Michael McLean has repeatedly and strongly endorsed the importance of including this space in the building; most recently, at the Permanent Building Committee meeting Thursday, he explained that he does not view cutting the space for socio-emotional services as an acceptable way to reduce the project’s cost. The PBC and the Department of Public Facilities (DPF) agreed with McLean; to be clear, no one is pushing to remove this space from the design – rather, they review all possible options for project cost cuts as part of the thorough value engineering process. McLean also spoke in favor of keeping a de-escalation room, whose uses would include running simulations for de-escalation training. The small community group Lexington Residents Reimagining Policing (LRRPS) has called on the Town to follow the “excellent first step” of the planned space with “creat[ing] a specific plan for integrating mental health professionals into the process of handling emergency calls” in a letter sent to Town Meeting Members in February. Along similar lines, in a Commission on Disability meeting earlier this month, McLean explained that while he is very satisfied with and grateful for the LPD partnership with the Town’s Human Services Department, he hopes that the Town can have someone “in-house” working with the Police Department in the new building who is part of the fabric of the department. “I would like someone embedded who works for the Town – and more importantly, who works at and for the police station,” he said. 

COVID-19 Weekly Update: Cases rose slightly this week, but remain low; Town Dashboard will no longer post weekly case counts

  • This week, Lexington had 36 new recorded COVID-19 cases as of Thursday, up from 25 the previous week. The Town dashboard notes that “due to the decline in COVID cases and decrease in PCR testing, the dashboard will NO longer be updated as of [March 25]” — yesterday.

  • At Lexington Public Schools, as of Thursday, 21 staff or students were absent who had tested positive, while just six students was on quarantine. That’s a tiny increase from the week before, when 19 students and staff were absent who had tested positive. Cases remain very low overall.

Community Announcements 

  • ‘In A Different Key’ film screening and panel discussion next week: Next Thursday, March 31 at 6:30 p.m., Lexington SEPAC/SEPTA are hosting a free film screening of In A Different Key. This film tells the story of the first person in the United States diagnosed with autism, how his community embraced him, and how his story relates to the nationwide history of autism. This will be the premiere of the film in Massachusetts, and the screening will be followed by a panel about how the film’s themes can be applied to Lexington. The screening will take place in the Lexington High School Auditorium. You can watch the trailer here, and learn more and register here.
  • League of Women Voters First Friday: Next Friday at 9:30 a.m., the League of Woman Voters will host Town Clerk Mary de Alderete and Election Official Marilyn Fenollosa for the April installation of their virtual First Friday Forum series. The event will address questions such as what the Town Clerk does, what happens at each polling location in town on Election Day, and why the conduct of elections in Lexington matters to the future of American democracy. De Alderete was appointed Town Clerk last October; Fenollosa is a retired attorney who has been an Election Official (Assistant Clerk and Inspector) since 2012, and has a long history of community involvement. You can learn more and join the webinar once the information is posted here.

That’s a wrap for today. Was this roundup useful to you? What do you want to see in this email next week? Let us know, and please ask your friends to sign up and donate too! Reach out to with tips and questions anytime. As always, you can also check out and share our website, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages. Thanks so much for reading and have a great weekend!

With gratitude,
Nicco Mele, Sophie Culpepper, Sarah Liu, Vivian Wang and Seiya Saneyoshi
LexObserver Team

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