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Hello, Lexington!

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

As promised, today’s newsletter looks a little different, thanks to a new template created by our wonderful volunteer designer! What do you think? Any suggestions? Let us know by reaching out to sophie@lexobserver.org.


Starting today, Lexington’s Patriots’ Day Weekend celebrations are back to full in-person splendor for the first time since 2019. You can check out the full schedule of events here. But the famous 5:30 a.m. Battle of Lexington reenactment isn’t until Monday morning, so hopefully you still have time to take in a little local news today…

With that, here’s this week’s news.
 

IN THIS ISSUE:

  • Over 300 residents oppose the Town’s plan to cut down 37 beloved white pines near the Center Recreation Area. Why does the Town, and the arborist they hired, think they need to go?
  • Where does the recommendation for a new afterschool program provider stand? And: SC approves 2022-23 calendar, but will vote separately on half-days, + more from this week’s School Committee meeting.
  • Session #5 Town Meeting Recap: High school feasibility study funds authorized; both articles about process + state authorization for remote Town Meeting participation pass; Planning Board Chair will not become ex officio TMM member; memorial for Donald White.
  • Session #6 Town Meeting Recap: Open Space Residential Developments Article 35 passes unamended; 128 Spring St. development will move forward; memorial for Taylor Mary Lahiff; debate will continue Monday, April 25.
  • COVID-19 Weekly Update: Cases tick up at Town, school levels.
  • Community Announcements: Recommendations for the future of the Stone Building April 27; Community Endowment of Lexington delays community event previously scheduled for April to October.

Why does the Town believe 37 beloved White Pines need to go?


Over 300 residents oppose the Town’s plan to cut down 37 beloved white pines near the Center Recreation Area. In a virtual public forum Thursday, the Town-contracted arborist, Tom Brady, explained why he believes the trees need to be removed, and community members shared their questions and concerns.


You can read the beginning of this article below; you can read the whole thing here, on our website.

  • The Town hosted a public forum via a Zoom webinar Thursday with staff from multiple departments – including the Town Manager, Department of Public Works Director, Recreation Director and Town Counsel – to discuss the fate of 37 mature white pine trees near the Town tennis courts, and the rationale behind the Town’s plan to remove them. Over 70 community members attended the webinar, according to Director of Recreation & Community Programs Melissa Battite.
  • Why the Town asked an arborist to examine these trees: Last fall the Town’s installation of new lights in the Center Recreation Area prompted some residents to be concerned that the roots of 37 white pine trees were being damaged by the contractor’s trucks. The Department of Public Works collaborated with the residents to initiate a review process and hired an arborist to assess the trees. To the residents’ distress, though, the arborist’s report uncovered far more serious issues with the trees than anticipated, beyond the roots and seemingly unrelated to the trucks, leading to the recommendation of their removal. This outcome was the exact opposite of what anyone, especially the residents who’d asked for the review in the first place, had wanted. Now, over 300 residents have asked for the Town to hear a second opinion on whether the trees need to come down, and to hold off on cutting down the trees in the meantime.
  • The arborist’s report chronicled serious issues in many trees: The Town contracted arborist Tom Brady (yes, that’s his name), who has decades of experience and said at the forum that he “can talk about trees for hours.” Brady assessed the trees in question in early January this year, and sent the Town Tree Warden, Christopher Filadoro, a two-page report summarizing his findings about the 37 white pines Feb. 18. Brady’s “purpose was to conduct an inspection of the root zone, stem, and canopy of the trees as a tool to assess overall health, structure, and stability,” he wrote in his assessment. But Brady was dismayed by his findings – especially by the fact that 24 of the 37 had co-dominant stems, per his report, which he estimated had first developed decades ago. Worse, he found “vertical cracks” and “seepage” in many of these trees among multiple signs of serious structural concern. Brady also found that the root zones, extending deep into the “active yards” of residents on one side and under the tennis courts on the other, had been “impacted by intrusions,” which he said is true of “many trees in suburban environments” and is less of a problem than the stem issues, despite the source of original resident concern. Finally, he wrote of observing “a bit more deadwood than I would like to see in White Pines of this size and age” in the canopies. “Decay in itself is not a problem – it’s the extent of the decay and the location of the decay,” he summarized at Thursday’s forum.
  • If the trees failed, they could damage surrounding houses or the Rec Center – or hurt people in these locations: The upshot, for Brady, was that “we have a stand of trees that is of the same species, the same age, with the same structural defects.” And “structural failure of moderate size,” e.g. if a tree branch were to fall on the tennis courts or on surrounding houses, “could have a significant impact,” he wrote. While in some cases, it’s possible to relocate or remove targets to reduce risk, “it is neither possible nor practical to relocate entire houses and yards and/or entire recreational facilities,” he explained. Brady also considered “mitigation strategies for the trees themselves such as crown reduction, or cabling and bracing.” But he concluded that “given the size, age and species of the trees…such mitigation strategies would not be effective in this case.” He added that trees within this row have previously suffered structural failures – another cause for concern. 
  • Reaching the “difficult conclusion” that the trees have to come down: Brady fully acknowledged the importance of these trees to community members, especially abutters: “It is clear these trees have stood and served many generations of Lexington residents,” he wrote in his report, calling their long life in the community “fantastic” during the forum. But between his site visit, observations of previous failures, “consistency in the age and condition of the tree community in question” and the lack of other ways “to reduce risk in the trees themselves, combined with no clear path to reduce the targets in the area,” he reached the “difficult conclusion” that “strong consideration be given to the removal of the trees in question.” Department of Public Works Director Dave Pinsonneault and Tree Warden Filadoro “concur with this assessment,” according to an April 5 memorandum from Town Manager Jim Malloy to the Select Board. During the April 14 forum, Matt Foti, a local practicing arborist, added that he independently agreed with Brady’s findings, and said he was especially alarmed by one of the trees leaning out over the tennis court with a “huge crack” which he thought required immediate action. 
  • Nobody likes removing trees – least of all an arborist: In the forum, Brady stressed that he never likes to recommend removing trees and does not make this recommendation lightly: “It distresses me when I find what I find,” he said. In younger years as an arborist, he said he did “severe crown reduction” – essentially, pruning – but this can actually accelerate tree decline and decay, because it removes the trees’ food source and saps their strength, he said.
  • Legal responsibility for the Town: In his April 5 memo, Malloy explained that the findings of Brady’s report meant that the Town needed to act to avoid legal liability should the trees structurally fail. The trees are defined as “Town trees,” and “once the Town is aware that there is a maintenance need on public property” – which they would be, in this case, due to Brady’s report – “the Town may be subject to legal claims that the Town had a duty to act on that report to ensure a tree failure does not result in injury, death or destruction of property,” he wrote. Though the Town’s liability is limited by state law, any litigation would still cost the Town time and money, Malloy added. “While the Town has no desire to remove healthy trees, we do have an interest to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents, visitors and property and to limit the Town’s legal exposure,” Malloy summarized. “It would be irresponsible for the Town to leave hazardous trees in place and therefore these trees should be removed.”
  • You can read more about resident reactions during the forum and next steps, and see a beautiful photo of some of these trees, in the rest of the article here.

Where does the recommendation for a new afterschool program provider stand?

SC approves 2022-23 calendar, but will vote separately on half-days, and more from this week’s School Committee meeting.
 

  • Most of Monday’s School Committee meeting was spent discussing the process and rationale for proposing awarding a rental space and programming contract for K-5 after school programming to Kidsborough, a change from Lextended Day that surprised many community members, as reported last week.
  • The process for selecting parent volunteers: During the meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations David Coelho outlined the process for reviewing vendors, including reviewing written proposals and presentations and interviewing presenters before tallying technical proposal scores. Four parents, an elementary school principal and Mr. Coelho conducted this process; a fifth parent was selected to join, but could not due to a family medical issue, he said. Some parents have asked questions about how parent volunteers were chosen, and whether parents had enough of a chance to participate. In a follow-up email to LexObserver, Coelho expanded on the process for selecting parent volunteers. The district emailed all K-4 parents to solicit volunteers for the review committee March 22, he wrote; they asked parents to respond by March 25 due to the district’s tight timeframe for selecting vendors. In the first few hours, they received over 20 replies from interested parents. The initial email stated that they would accept the first three respondents, Coelho explained – but due to the level of interest and immediacy of responses, “we decided to increase the parent involvement to five people.” Volunteers were selected in the order of their reply “to maintain the fair and unbiased conditions that the law, Mass General Law Ch. 30B, requires for a fair and robust competitive bidding process,” Coelho specified. Five people amounted to “more parent representatives involved than with any other prior review team for this contract,” he wrote.
  • Why only three days for parents to volunteer? Bid process time constraints: The bid was advertised Feb. 23; vendor proposals were due to the LPS office by March 23, with presentations scheduled for March 29, Coelho wrote. “The timeframe required reviewers to pick up the submissions by Friday afternoon March 25th so they could complete their review of the proposals prior to the March 29th presentation date,” he wrote.
  • Why Kidsborough? In the meeting, Coelho said that Kidsborough had scored substantially higher than any of the other three programs considered in the review panel’s ranking of program offerings, while, separately, also offering to nearly double its payment to LPS despite keeping current tuition. Coelho noted that the review committee was impressed by Kidsborough having a behavioral specialist on staff, and by their inclusivity and variety of opportunities combining both structured and unstructured options for students. These factors collectively made a compelling case for Kidsborough, Coelho said. They have committed to raising prices no more than 2% annually from the prices they submitted, he added, a relatively good deal in his view in the current financial landscape.
  • Possibilities for early morning childcare? TBD. School Committee members asked whether Kidsborough could possibly offer early morning childcare in addition to afterschool programming to support working parents with commutes, and expressed interest in surveying parents about interest in and need for this option.
  • School Committee Member Larry Freeman stressed that he wants to ensure Kidsborough has a diverse staff aligned with Lexington’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) values, expressing some skepticism about an apparent absence of an equal opportunity statement for hiring on their website. Superintendent Julie Hackett responded that this is an area Lexington can push on as a clear expectation for the vendor.
  • Coelho said he also discussed “transition plans” with Kidsborough, and they expressed some interest in reaching out to current Lextended staff to offer employment opportunities, especially since they realize this consistency would be good for students. Lextended Executive Director Heather Hartshorn confirmed to LexObserver that Kidsborough had reached out asking her to pass on a job link for opportunities at their program to Lextended staff, which she did. But, “to treat teachers like widgets who we will all just hire is simply not correct,” she added.
  • Parents respond to decision: During a public comment period following Coelho’s presentation, six community members – including elementary school parents, the Lextended parent Board of Directors president and the teachers’ union president – voiced questions, comments and concerns about the Kidsborough recommendation. Some described their positive experiences over many years with Lextended; some also stressed that they worried about burdening young students with yet another change after the tumult of pandemic learning, a concern also voiced by Freeman.
  • Some contended the opportunity for parent participation in the program review process was inadequate, saying the timeframe for volunteering was too short, too few parents were included, and that requiring a weekday meeting during working hours was a dealbreaker for many of the very working parents who rely on this after school care. “The process required for awarding public contracts is very prescriptive and the law is very [straightforward],” Coelho wrote.
  • Hartshorn said she felt “the quality of [Lextended] programming has been wildly underestimated.” In response to concerns from some parents that positive experiences with Lextended might have been insufficiently accounted for in the review process, Coelho wrote LexObserver that “The experiences of parents and other people using the vendor’s programs are taken into account, as are references submitted by vendors during the pre-award phase.” Further, “we received several unsolicited communications from parents, both supportive and critical of the current program,” he added. Coelho specifically acknowledged Lextended’s submission of a survey showing that all 93 respondents to their survey (among about 500 families) stated they would recommend the program to other parents, results also publicly available on Lextended’s website.“This result was taken into consideration,” he wrote. “As outlined in the [Request for Proposals] document, the final decision to award is driven primarily by the evidence presented by the vendor as well as the quality of the proposals delivered,” he added.
  • Lexington Education Association President Avon Lewis expressed skepticism about Kidsborough’s ability to offer more programs and pay the district more money without overworking and underpaying their staff or wildly increasing tuition. Additionally, many LPS staff do Lextended to make ends meet, she said — she worries about them being able to get by without this extra source of income. 
  • Community special education groups express support for Kidsborough: Not all comments about the proposed change in provider were negative; parent Josh Apgar read a statement on behalf of LexSEPAC/SEPTA (Special Education Parent Advisory Council, and Special Education PTA) thanking the review committee for their recommendation as they believe Kidsborough will be better able to service students with special needs than Lextended. In a follow-up email to LexObserver, a LexSEPTA/SEPAC representative added that LexSEPAC “has fielded concerns from special education parents over many years regarding LextendedDay’s difficulties supporting children with disabilities.” They cited Lextended’s policies, which do not reference “special education” directly, but include a section regarding “children with challenging behaviors.” This section states that “the program is not able to provide the same level of staff support as the schools” and “eligibility for the program is at the discretion of the program,” though they “[strive] to create an environment where all children feel welcome and where their individual needs are met.” Lextended policies also specifically acknowledge that they “cannot accommodate children who exhibit…behavior that requires one-on-one supervision and/or restraint.” Hartshorn acknowledged that there have been “several [children] that we have not been able to serve because they’ve needed a one-on-one aide, and we could not keep those children or other children safe.” Lextended does accommodate students who need and are able to bring an external aide, she added. “We merely do not have the people to do this,” she explained; “it simply is very hard to hire people.” LexSEPAC “did not participate in the vendor selection process, but part of LexSEPAC’s role is to advise the School Committee on matters pertaining to special education,” the LexSEPTA/SEPAC representative added.
  • Vote on contract will take place at a future meeting: School Committee members decided that they needed to take more time before voting on whether to approve the contract in light of community feedback. They will announce a meeting to vote on this contract soon.
  • New calendar approved except for half-days: School Committee members unanimously voted to approve the 2022-23 academic calendar— but excluded the question of whether half-days will take place Thursdays or Fridays from that vote. Superintendent Hackett said she will investigate the possibility of keeping half-days on Fridays for parental convenience through impact bargaining with the LEA, and was authorized to do so in another unanimous School Committee vote. But LEA President Lewis expressed frustration that the School Committee had approved the calendar without first settling the half-day question and leveling directly with the LEA about switching to Fridays permanently. She disagreed that impact bargaining was appropriate for negotiating this change, because “the change of day represents a clear change in working conditions, a mandatory subject of bargaining” which she says should be addressed through regular bargaining. In a letter to the School Committee after the meeting, Lewis wrote that “The afternoon work time is an important part of the work week for preK and elementary educators, and I think we can all agree that Friday afternoon is fundamentally different from Thursday afternoon.” She asked that the School Committee rescind their vote on the calendar, even though the School Committee’s motion explicitly excluded the half-days from the calendar.
  • Vaccine clinic coming up April 28: Dr. Hackett did not officially present her regular report Monday in the interest of time, but you can read her community announcements, COVID-19 updates and DEI updates here. One PSA to note: Due to the recently announced eligibility of individuals over 50 for a second booster, LPS will hold another vaccine clinic Thursday, April 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. downstairs at the Central Office in the conference rooms. Those eligible can make an appointment here.
  • The School Committee also briefly mentioned an update related to the EDCO Collaborative dissolution. Hackett described Lexington’s willingness to settle a dispute with EDCO about whether Lexington is a member in an April 1 letter.
  • Member Sara Cuthbertson noted that she will step down from her position on the Community Input Team for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to allow new Member Larry Freeman to take her place as SC rep for the CIT he previously contributed to as a parent volunteer.
  • The SC unanimously approved a new year-long food services contractwith Whitsons Culinary Group with options for multiple extensions. 

     

Session #5 Town Meeting Recap:

High school feasibility study funds authorized; both articles about process + state authorization for remote Town Meeting participation pass; Planning Board Chair will not become ex officio TMM member; memorial for Donald White.

  • Almost $2M in high school feasibility study funds approved: At Monday’s Special Town Meeting, the second of this spring, Article 2 proposed appropriating $1,825,000 to pay for the LHS feasibility study as one of many steps to move forward in the Massachusetts School Building Authority process to receive funding and expertise as supports for building a new or renovated high school. Town Meeting Members asked questions including about the steps in the MSBA process, where the new or renovated high school might be sited, and what the expected timeline for the project may be. STM 2022-2 Article 2 passed with 177 votes yes, 1 no and 2 abstaining – far surpassing the 2/3 majority required. 
  • Is the future of Town Meeting hybrid? Most TMMs voted yes. Article 3 at STM proposed a process for integrating remote participation at hybrid Town Meetings. Article 3 only allows for hybrid meetings, not fully-remote meetings. Under this article, in person and remote participants are equal meeting participants, though at least 90 members out of the nearly 200-person Town Meeting must meet in person to count toward the 100-person quorum, while another 10 TMMs may count toward quorum remotely. Article 3 generated passionate debate among TMMs, who spoke both for and against remote participation. Their comments echoed previous responses to the Town Meeting survey of members about remote or hybrid preferences which factored into the decision to make Spring Town Meeting 2022 remote. Members speaking in favor of Article 3 cited the bump in turnout since holding remote Town Meetings during COVID-19 as a key indicator of how this option increases accessibility. Members opposed to remote participation emphasized the importance of connecting with public constituents in person, seeing one another’s faces while debating and voting, and making the decisions of TMMs in a context with formality befitting the significance of the decisions being made. Article 3 ultimately passed with an overwhelming majority, with 166 votes yes, 10 no and 5 abstaining.
  • TMMs later debated and voted on the counterpart to STM Article 3 – ATM Article 34. This article asks for state authorization for remote participation, and unlike Article 3, does provide for fully remote meetings in emergencies. Article 34 passed with 171 votes yes, 7 no and 3 abstaining.
  • Funding to complete the Comprehensive Plan: Article 4 in STM 2022-2 proposed appropriating $75,000 to complete the Town’s updated Comprehensive Plan, a project to guide the Town’s land use and physical development for the next 10-20 years. This longtime work in progress is now in its final stages after a few delays. Article 4 passed with 167 votes yes, 2 no and 9 abstaining.
  • Resistance to making the Planning Board Chair an ex officio member of Town Meeting: Article 30 proposed asking the legislature to amend the act establishing Lexington’s representative Town Meeting to allow the Chair of the Planning Board to participate in Town Meeting as an ex officio member, like the chairs of the School, Appropriation and Capital Expenditures Committees. This proved to be another hot-button issue for Town Meeting; though Article 30 was theoretically proposed to allow the Planning Board Chair to do routine Town Meeting actions like make motions, TMMs disagreed mostly about giving the chair a vote, which would be a byproduct of ex officio status under the current bylaw. Some TMMs arguing in favor stressed that the Planning Board, and zoning articles, are very important to Town Meeting debates, and noted that the Planning Board chair should be treated the same as other ex officio committee chairs. On the other hand, some TMMs arguing against contended that the Planning Board chair does not deserve a vote in Town Meeting without being elected, especially since zoning votes can often be close; they argued that giving the chair one would be unfair. 
  • All four other current voting Planning Board members are elected TMMs, with the exception of the chair, as are all other current ex officio committee chairs, as pointed out by some TMMs in their arguments against this article. The current chair has sought election to Town Meeting Precinct 2 without success multiple years in a row. Some proponents arguing in favor expressed concern that debate about this article online had devolved into personal attacks on the current chair, and encouraged TMMs not to be swayed by such arguments on this article. Article 30 was resoundingly defeated, failing with 50 votes yes, 119 votes no and 9 abstaining.
  • Article 37 proposed a simple technical correction to a previously approved zoning bylaw amendment, adding a missing sentence originally intended to be included. Article 37 passed with 164 votes yes, 3 no and 7 abstaining.
  • Article 25, a citizen petition for Worthen Road Recreation and Education District Land Use Concept Plan, was originally proposed to help make a plan for the future of LHS in the absence of MSBA support. Given the MSBA vote to invite Lexington into the eligibility period last month, this article was indefinitely postponed in a voice vote.
  • Between STM and ATM in Monday’s session, Town Meeting Members held a moment of silence for Donald White, a former TMM who passed away earlier this year after a lifetime of engagement in community service.

     

Session #6 Town Meeting Recap:

Open Space Residential Developments Article 35 passes unamended; 128 Spring St. development will move forward; memorial for Taylor Mary Lahiff; debate will continue Monday, April 25.

  • The sixth session of Spring Town Meeting included a moment of silence for Taylor Mary Lahiff, who passed away last month at age 28. Lahiff was elected to Town Meeting while still a student at LHS at just 18, and was devoted to supporting people with disabilities.
  • Planning Board report notes new Planning Director, three major priorities in the year ahead: Under Article 2, Planning Board Chair Charles Hornig briefly presented the Board’s report. The Planning Department has weathered challenges including understaffing and flooding this winter, but are glad to have welcomed new Planning Director Abigail McCabe last month, he said. Hornig expects the Planning Board’s upcoming priorities to include: overseeing completion of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan; overseeing a public process to substantially expand the Town’s multi-family zoning to comply with state guidelines for MBTA communities; and efforts to identify and mitigate traffic and transportation issues in large commercial areas of town.
  • Strong Town Meeting support for new expanded lab campus at 128 Spring St., and for the millions in tax revenue it will generate: Article 38, an owner petition for 128 Spring Street, proposed rezoning and approving a Preliminary Site Development and Use Plan for specified 95 Hayden Avenue and 99 Hayden Avenue properties — resulting in a renovated and expanded campus of life science and office buildings. Most TMMs expressed support for the jobs, refurbished buildings and millions in annual tax revenue the project would bring to the town, but some residents asked questions including about noise mitigation, the public input process for residents, and traffic. Article 38 passed with 169 votes yes, 6 no and 2 abstaining, well over the 2/3 majority required.
  • Some exceptions to that strong support, especially in Precinct 9: Though it passed with a substantial majority, the few ‘no’ votes were concentrated in Precinct 9, where the project would be located (Spring St. divides precincts 3 and 9 at 128 Spring St.); Jeanne Canale (P9) spoke against the development, claiming the developer had not provided sufficient mitigation payments and measures in their finalized Memorandum of Understanding. She described some of the mitigation measures she hoped the finalized MOU would include in last week’s newsletter. Town Manager Jim Malloy said during Town Meeting that the demands of South Lexington citizens for the MOU were not necessarily possible to negotiate, and outlined several benefits and compromises that the developer did agree to e.g tax benefits, traffic and parking payments, and promised noise limits.
  • No lab at 475 Bedford St. for now: Article 39, 475 Bedford St., originally proposed rezoning a residential area at this address to a commercial area in order to build a lab — but the developer decided last week to change their desired motion to ‘refer back to the Planning Board.’ This motion passed in a voice vote, meaning no TMM objected, so the developer can continue to discuss this project, and whether and how to bring it back to a future Town Meeting, with the Planning Board.
  • A new requirement for reporting energy use for large buildings: Article 31, Energy and Water Use of Large Buildings, proposed requiring that about 120 buildings, including municipal buildings and large buildings of various kinds, disclose their energy use as one step toward advancing the Town’s sustainability goals. Article 31 passed with 164 votes yes, 5 no and 4 abstaining.
  • Open Space Residential Developments inspire robust debate: Article 35, Open Space Residential Developments, proposed a new kind of by right development designed to encourage more dense housing while preserving a certain percentage of open space on each development, as described last week. A previous version of this article was introduced last fall, when it failed in a close vote. Those speaking in favor, including members of the public, generally heralded it as one possible way to create more affordable housing in town at a time it is desperately needed. Many of those speaking against expressed concerns about a lack of adequate oversight and checks on developers, and uncertainty about the specifics of what the as yet undrafted site plan review regulations will require of developers.
  • An amendment to require special permits for OSRD is rejected: In this vein, TMM and Planning Board member Bob Creech introduced an amendment seeking to change OSRDs from by right with site plan review to special permit, which would give the Planning Board more oversight over how and whether a development moved forward. Creech’s amendment also generated substantial debate, but ultimately failed by obtaining 70 yes votes, 94 no, and 8 abstaining.
  • Second time’s the charm: Article 35 passed unamended by 70.1% with 110 votes yes, 47 no, and 13 abstaining. It required only a simple majority to pass, unlike many zoning articles which require a 2/3 majority.
  • Reconsideration for bathroom renovations + hard court surfaces: Article 10e appropriates $680,000 to renovate the Center Playground Bathrooms & Maintenance Building; Article 10f appropriates $2.5 million to reconstruct the Gallagher Tennis and Farias Basketball Courts, equipping the former for continued tennis and/or pickleball at a time when community interest in these activities has markedly increased. Both articles passed in the first session of Spring Town Meeting – Article 10e by 88.5% of votes in favor, and Article 10f by a much slimmer margin, with 51.6% of yes votes (and enough abstentions to have changed the vote outcome). TMM Taylor Singh (P6) moved reconsideration of Articles 10e and 10f Wednesday night on the basis that new information about plans for the new LHS had come to light, and that the land on which the projects funded by Articles 10e and 10f stand could theoretically be required for the new high school. This would make investments in those projects now a potential waste of taxpayer money in her view. TMM Noah Michelson (P1) moved Town Meeting table Singh’s motion until Monday, April 25 as it was about 11 p.m. by that time.
  • During the vote, Town Manager Jim Malloy noted that some Town Staff had waited four hours to address the reconsideration question of Articles 10e and 10f and encouraged TMMs to consider voting in favor of continuing debate that evening. TMMs instead voted to table the motion by a single vote — 80 in favor of closing debate, 79 against and 7 abstaining. One TMM said he had tried to change his vote after hearing Mr. Malloy’s comment, but the virtual voting system had not allowed him to do so in time. Moderator Deborah Brown did not allow his vote to be changed, but called the vote a “squeaker.”
  • Town Meeting will reconvene a week from next Monday, after Patriots’ Day and LPS spring break — on Monday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m., for the seventh and likely (hopefully) final session.

     

COVID-19 Weekly Update:
 

Cases rise further at Town, school levels

 

  • This week, Lexington had 70 new recorded COVID-19 cases as of Thursday, a jump from 46 the previous week, and a bigger single-week increase than we’ve seen in several weeks. Sadly, worth keeping an eye on.
     
  • At Lexington Public Schools, as of Thursday, 68 staff or students were absent who had tested positive, while just four students were on quarantine. That’s another increase from the week before, when 44 students and staff were absent who had tested positive.

Community Announcements 

  • Zoom forum on recommendations for the future of the Stone Building April 27, 7:30 p.m.: The Stone Building Feasibility/Re-Use Committee has long been researching reuse ideas for the Stone Building, located at 735 Massachusetts Ave. The Wednesday, April 27 forum is the third and final of three public forums where the committee will present their draft recommendations to be given to the Select Board for the future of this historic building. You can learn more and find the Zoom link here.
  • Community Endowment of Lexington move LexDoingGood event from April to October: The Community Endowment of Lexington are moving their community event, LexDoingGood, from late April to October 22. The event, which will be free to the public, will showcase nearly 30 nonprofits and town agencies that have received grants from CEL for their Lexington-based programming. Grantees work in one or more of CEL’s four funding areas: arts and culture, community building, the environment, and health and human services. You can learn more 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 sophie@lexobserver.org 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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