BOS close to approving private way conversion policyBy Mike Berger
Selectmen are nearing final approval of a formal town betterment policy for converting private ways into public ways. However, under the terms of the new policy, there will be several steps that private way residents must take before an article can be sent to town meeting for a formal approval.
There are currently 112 private ways in Canton, and two of those are up for consideration at the 2013 annual town meeting: Historical Way, which is off Washington Street between Pleasant and Dedham Streets, and Knob Hill, which is off Walpole Street. Knob Hill is under review by the Planning Board and involves the release of a developer’s bond to pay for road repairs.
Selectmen appeared to be amenable to the proposed conversion policy, which was drafted by Town Administrator Bill Friel and reviewed by town counsel. The board may formally approve it at the next selectmen’s meeting on October 2.
The new policy outlines three major steps that residents must take in order to gain acceptance as a public way, including 100 percent approval of all necessary easements. Friel said the town does not want to go through an eminent domain process involving land seizing and damages. In addition, 75 percent of the residents living on the private way must agree to pay betterment taxes over a period of 10 to 15 years. Lastly, residents must collectively pay for all legal, engineering, and survey costs.
Selectmen agreed that these formal steps must be taken in order to avoid a repeat of a prior scenario in which town meeting voters had approved a water line for a private way and the town subsequently paid for all engineering and legal costs, only to have the measure blocked by a minority of the residents.
Selectmen Chairman Bob Burr said it was important for all residents to realize the costs involved before the process is undertaken and sent to town meeting. Burr also noted that a private way’s acceptance as a town street does not mean it will automatically be sent to the top of a list for paving and repairs. Burr said the list of street repairs is prioritized based on safety and other factors.
In other news Tuesday night, selectmen sent a reserve fund transfer of $35,000 to the Finance Committee for mechanical repairs to a ladder truck at the Ponkapoag Fire Station. The repairs will put the truck in service until selectmen determine whether the truck should be refurbished or if a new truck should be purchased.
Recreation Director Janet Maguire said she will spend $9,500 out of her budget for sod replacement to repair the turf at the Windsor Woods field off Route 138 on the Stoughton-Canton line. The field, which is used by the Canton Youth Soccer Association and Canton Youth Lacrosse, is closed until the repairs are made and should reopen this spring. Maguire said an agreement will be amended allowing the Recreation Department to maintain the field, and in return the Irish Cultural Center will pay fees for use of the field in the summer.
In addition, Maguire reported that the new list of fall recreational events, including some adult events, will be announced this week, and she urged those who are interested to sign up online.
In other news:
* Selectman Sal Salvatori announced that the “We Can” benefit concert and food drive will be held at 7 p.m. next Saturday, September 29, at the First Parish Unitarian-Universalist Church on Washington Street.
* The formal dedication of the Ed Sullivan Water Treatment Plant off Neponset Street will be held this Sunday, September 23, at 1 p.m. with a reception to follow at the Canton Town Club starting at 2 p.m. A police officer will be on hand to direct traffic and parking will be available at the beginning of the industrial park road across from White Sisters Way.
* A Military Appreciation and Family Day will be hosted by Porter & Chester Institute, located at 5 Campanelli Circle, on Saturday, September 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Also on that day, the Messinger Street Playground’s 100th anniversary picnic will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the fifth annual Ricky Shannon Field Day and “Mutchie” Street Hockey Tournament will take place from noon to 6 p.m. at the Galvin Middle School field.
* Selectmen voted a proclamation for the Community Club of Canton in honor of its upcoming 100th anniversary.
* Selectmen will next meet on Tuesday, October 2, at 7 p.m.
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