May 2023 ATM & STM Questions and Answers
The following are questions from the Town Meeting Members or other members of the community as well as answers from the Town regarding Town Meeting and Special Town Meeting warrant articles.
ATM Article 18 - AMEND ZONING BY-LAW – ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS (ADUs)
Q: How will the Town enforce off-street parking since the article does not increase off-street parking minimums?
A: On-street overnight parking is already prohibited in Needham and is enforced by the Needham Police Department. This zoning article adheres to the Town's existing parking regulations.
ATM Article 25 - APPROPRIATE FOR GENERAL FUND CASH CAPITAL
Q: It would be helpful to understand where Article 24 DeFazio Playground Design and portions of Article 25 (Action Sports Park Feasibility and McLeod Field reno) fit within the Town’s overall playground and field renovation plans. In previous Town Meetings, Park & Rec referred to a playground assessment study ranking priorities and plans to complete design studies and renovations every other year. I understand that different funding sources may be used to support these projects (Park & Rec, Forestry, CPA, General Fund, etc) but is there any overall projected plan/timeline for which playgrounds and fields will be addressed and when?
A: In 2021, the Park & Recreation Department completed an overall assessment of all of our playgrounds, which reviewed surfacing, maintenance of grounds, equipment, and basic site furnishings. The final report can be found here.
The playground at DeFazio was identified as the site with the highest need for a complete renovation so was prioritized to request design funds in FY2024 and construction funds anticipated for FY2025.
The Town’s FY2024-2028 Capital Improvement Plan outlines future capital project requests by Town Departments. Section 2 pages 28-32 gives the best snapshot of the requested capital projects for the next 5 years. Details on recreation assets can be found in Section 3 pages 103 – 167.
The capital budget gets updated annually and specific projects may come on or off the 5-year plan, as circumstances and needs change. Generally speaking, Park & Recreation (with the Department of Public Works) is requesting funds on a rotating basis for fields, playgrounds and courts. The identification of which specific field, playground, or court is determined by the Park & Recreation Commission, based on their sense of the most urgent needs and priorities, as it gets closer to Years 1 and 2 of the 5-year capital plan. Here is the current outlook to give you a sense:
- FY2024 funds for: action sports park and pickleball feasibility study, McLeod Field construction, DeFazio Tot Lot design, Claxton Field construction (deferred to Fall 2023).
- FY2025 funds for: athletic field improvements design (location TBD), design for shade structures at Rosemary Pool and improvements to the beach area, DeFazio Tot Lot construction, High School Tennis Courts construction.
- FY2026 funds for: playground design (location TBD), athletic field assessment (conducting an overall assessment similar to the playground study)
- FY2027 funds for: playground construction (for location chosen in FY2026), athletic field improvements (location tbd)
- FY2028: playground design (location TBD), court design (location TBD)
ATM Article 39 - CITIZEN PETITION
Q: Has there been any feedback from businesses regarding Article 39?
A (Provided by Article Proponents):
The Green Needham - Plastic Reduction Team worked with the Town Economic Development Manager to develop a survey for businesses about the proposed Plastic Bag Ban. The survey went out in late February, with a reminder sent in mid-March, and results were collected through March 31st. The survey was sent to approximately 75 businesses, and 19 responses were received. Out of the 19 businesses that responded, only 3 use plastic bags exclusively. 6 of the businesses don't use plastic bags at all. The rest of the respondents use plastic bags infrequently, instead opting for paper bags or cardboard boxes.
One of the concerns from businesses that use plastic bags exclusively was that paper bags are more expensive. One aspect of the Plastic Reduction Team's initiative is to educate and encourage consumers to bring reusable bags to the stores. This is the best option for the environment, and would also help store owners minimize the cost associated with providing paper bags.
Overall, it seems that many of the businesses were in support or would be only marginally impacted by the plastic bag ban.