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A Message from Town Manager, Michael Herbert

Dear Ashland Residents,

November was another busy month. We held a Special Town Meeting where we passed 12 warrant articles. The Ashland Farmer's Market hosted their indoor holiday market, which was a wonderful community event. We were happy to welcome Burger City to our business community. And the  Ashland Day Committee hosted the well attended annual tree lighting and of course a special visit from Santa Claus. 

In the coming weeks, we will continue to prepare the FY18 Operating & Capital Budget, work on the initial stages of the twenty year strategic plan for the Town, and continue to move forward various important community initiatives such as beginning the next assessment of the Cadilac Paint property, continuing to pursue the Quiet Zone, exploring appropriate zoning in light of the legalization of recreational marijuana, and beginning engineering and design work on the Upper Charles Rail Trail and downtown improvements. I am also pleased to roll out a community calendar that will be used as a central location for agencies and organizations to post their public events and meetings.  

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support. Over the last year, it has been a pleasure to serve Ashland. This year has proven to be an incredibly interesting year, and while there were some challenging times, we are fortunate to have a committed community willing to work to enhance the Town for all our residents. This commitment is the one of the many reasons that I am excited for the future. 

I would like to end by wishing you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season! 
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Michael D. Herbert
Town Manager 
  Ashland News
Special Town Meeting
Special Town Meeting was held on Monday November 28,  at the High School. Approximately 135 residents attended and voted to pass 12 warrant articles. This included voting to approve free cash transfers to the stabilization fund, OPEB stabilization fund, and to the capital account; passing revisions to the water use bylaw; and approving the MWRA supplemental connection bylaw. It was decided to defer the MWRA Supplement Water Connection Approval article until the next town meeting. While the Town believes this connection is a critical secondary water source, the Town and Water Policy Committee needed additional time to analyze the costs and funding sources for the water connection. It is anticipated that this article will be presented at the Annual Town Meeting in the Spring. Town Meeting also approved three zoning articles including a Marijuana moratorium, which prohibits marijuana facilities from beginning the planning or permitting process while the Town addresses any zoning concerns; clarifies the height restrictions for downtown (CD district) buildings; and a rate of development bylaw that, over the next four years, will restrict certain residential development to 25% of its proposed building permits each year to allow the Town an opportunity to address service and infrastructure needs.     
Public Works Updates
As part of the Rail Transit District project, work will begin on the MBTA Access Road next week. Contractors will begin to install utilities within the road. It is anticipated that this project will continue throughout the winter, weather permitting.

For any updates please refer to the DPW webpage.  
Department of Human Services & Community Programs Formed

Most everyone knows that mental health and substance abuse issues are devastating families and communities at an alarming rate. When I became Town Manager I identified this as one of the first problems I needed to address. In an effort to better meet the overall health and wellness needs of the community, we are reorienting some of our Human Services departments and combining them with a new Community Programs division that will better address our residents' issues. We have found that we offer a number of programs and services, but like most organizations we tend to develop in silos. This reduces the reach and effectiveness of those programs and services. We also miss the opportunity to develop strong partnerships with other agencies and organizations which could perhaps enhance what we can offer to the community.

This restructuring should fix many of those issues. As part of the restructuring, we have established an Intake Specialist position that will serve as a first point of contact for those needing assistance.That person can then help them navigate the array of services offered throughout the Town and elsewhere. We will also be establishing a stronger partnership with the Decisions at Every Turn Coalition, and their Prevention and Outreach Director will also be part of the Community Programs division. These divisions will ultimately report to Jenn Ball, our Assistant Town Manager.

First I would like to thank the community. Ashland continues to be an extremely generous Town. Over the last month, the food pantry has received a tremendous amount of the donations. 

For Thanksgiving a number of volunteers, Youth & Family Services and the Ashland Emergency Fund provided holiday dinners for approximately 75 families. Additionally, Youth and Family Services  is continuing to compile gifts and dinners for over 110 families for Christmas. Each year many Ashland households work with families in need to ensure that everyone in the Town of Ashland is able to enjoy their holidays. We are extremely appreciative of everyone's generosity during this holiday season.    

Mass DOT  Public Hearing: RT 126/ Pond Street Revitalization Project - 25% Design
On December 6th the Massachusetts Department of Transportation held a Public Hearing on the Rt. 126/Pond Street Revitalization Project. The current project is at the 25% design stage, and project consultants Green Engineering will review the progress to date and provide an overview of the project plans. The next step for the project is going to 75% designs, which we anticipate being complete by the end of 2017. 

Upcoming Events
As noted before, in January our public budget process will be in full swing. On January 10th, our Finance Committee will hold a televised budget hearing to discuss some of our larger departmental budgets and capital budget. This will be the first time that FinCom has televised these meetings and we hope it will help people better understand our budget process.

I have also started meeting with residents in various neighborhoods throughout Town during the evening hours. This gives me the opportunity to hear directly from residents about what works and doesn't work in town, and things they would like to see more of. It is an informal, and leads to good discussion about a number of topics. My goal is to do these monthly. If you would like to host one of these in your neighborhood. Please reach out directly to me and hopefully we can schedule something.

Also, don't forget to check the Community Calendar for upcoming events throughout town.

Town of Ashland