A Year in Review: Medway 2017

By David Pasquantonio
Issue Date: 
January, 2018
Article Body: 

It was a busy year in Medway, said Michael Boynton, Medway’s town administrator, as he reviewed the town’s 2017 highlights and accomplishments, but it was also a good year.
Perhaps the biggest news, and the item with the most future financial impact, was the final approval of the expansion of the Medway Exelon plant on Summer Street. This will result in an estimated $3.8 million annual payment, in lieu of taxes, to the town starting in FY 2019. Boynton said that the town is looking at minimal staff expansion, instead slotting money towards various education and infrastructure needs, along with residential tax relief.
The $10 million Route 109 redesign project is finishing up another year. Although some of the more complex work has been completed, there’s still plenty to come in 2018, including work at two Main Street intersections, at Franklin and Holliston streets. “I would say that there have been no surprises,” said Boynton, adding that the town has worked hard to minimize delays.
Traffic has ramped up on other key streets, including Village Street, as drivers seek alternative routes. Boynton said that the town has ramped up traffic enforcement as a result. New speed limit signs on Village Street have sprung up in the past few weeks. Beyond the ongoing Route 109 project, improvements were made to many local roads, including sidewalks at Saddle Hill Road, in efforts to enhance road and pedestrian safety.
The fire department added four personnel while continuing its move towards providing Advanced Life Support services in its ambulances. Four additional hires will start in the department on January 1, thanks to a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, Boynton said.
The police department bid goodbye to four retiring officers:  Lt. William Boultenhouse, Det. Donald Grimes, Officer David McRoberts, and Officer Richard Simard. Lt. David McSweeney and Sgt. John Meincke were promoted, and the department added four graduates.
The Medway Oak Grove Urban Renewal Plan received the needed local and state approvals for the Medway Redevelopment Authority to begin work on the “bottle cap lots” and a few other adjoining parcels. For those unaware of why this project has such an interesting name, here’s some information from the town’s website: “The Bottle Cap lots derive their name from a 1920’s marketing promotion by Clicquot Club, which awarded small parcels to customers with winning bottle cap lots. There were originally approximately 1,018 Bottle Cap lots with an average size of approximately 1,600 square feet and dimensions of approximately 80 feet by 20 feet. The ownership of many of the lots has been consolidated over the years, but the configuration of many small, irregularly shaped lots with multiple owners remains a significant obstacle to redevelopment of the area.”
In development news, in May, the Zoning Board of Appeals granted a comprehensive permit for Timber Crest Estates, which will add about 150 units of rental-affordable housing to the town. In August, the board granted a permit for Glen Brook Way, which will add another 48 units, and Boynton said that this brings the affordable housing total to about 7.2% of the town’s housing stock. The town also continued work towards final approval of Salmon Health’s Willows at Medway, the 57-acre, 200-unit adult retirement community slated for Village Street.
At the fall town meeting, voters approved a comprehensive playground plan for Choate Park and Oakland Park and improved tennis courts for the middle school. The plan was the result of much hard work from the Evaluation of Parks, Fields, and Recreational Areas Committee, Boynton said, adding, “EPFRAC did a wonderful job.” Work will commence in the spring.
In Department of Public Services news, after former DPS director Thomas Holder resigned in late 2016 to take a position in Wayland, deputy director Dave D’Amico was named director, and Barry Smith, the former water and sewer superintendent, was named deputy director.
In the spring, Medway unveiled an upgraded partnership with Cleargov.com, a website that uses snappy graphics to provide a snapshot of the town’s budget, population, and median home prices, among other stats, and allows residents to compare how their town stacks up against similar municipalities.
The town said goodbye to a longtime building. In April, selectman voted to raze the former St. Joseph’s Men’s Club building behind Town Hall and the fire department, with plans to turn the ensuing space into additional parking. The building was deemed a structural hazard, and mailings to the listed club trustees were returned by the post office.
Boynton has been the Medway town administrator for about three and half years, and previously held stints in Mendon, Sutton, and Walpole.