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Clerk, manager, digital ads advance

UPDATED May 3: The second session of the 2023 annual Town Meeting, on Wednesday, April 26, picked up pace, completing 23 of 72 articles, before adjourning to Monday, May 1, to consider budgets. Supported were the town and capital budgets. A summary of that session will be published.

After postponing Article 12 (artificial turf) to May 8, the meeting held the following discussions and took these actions.

Article 13
Appointed vs. elected town clerk

In Massachusetts, 126 towns have recently converted to an appointed, rather than elected, town clerk. None has reported any problems or reverted to an elected position, explained Select Board Chair Eric Helmuth.

Town Manager Sandy Pooler requests this article because the job has become highly professional, not just administrative. “The town clerk’s responsibilities come under heavy public scrutiny, and it’s not a political position. Other departments have huge responsibilities, such as the police chief, none of whom are elected. There’s been no sense of accountability in the past, and it would enable more resources for this position.”

The current town clerk, Juli Brazile, supports this warrant article. “Previous clerks have not been held accountable, and it’s important to think about accountability.”

Annie LaCourt (Precinct 13) concurred that an appointed town clerk will increase accountability.

Christopher Moore (14) said that an appointed town clerk allows for a broader pool of applicants, rather than being restricted to only Arlington residents, which better serves the town.

However, after some allegations of a Select Board "power grab," the meeting supported, 186-31, having a townwide public vote, sometime in the future, to determine whether appointment or election of future town clerks is to be preferred.

Article 14
Create study plan for new growth

The Select Board, Redevelopment Board and town manager all oppose this article aimed at creating study to plan for new growth because of concern about overlap and duplication of effort said Helmuth.

Gordon Jamieson (12), Board of Assessors' chair, said his board has not taken a position on this article, so it’s not the time to do this. “I recommend that we vote against it.”

Chris Loreti (7) concurred. “It isn’t necessary for the town to form this committee. It’s just a study committee to provide recommendations. We should aim for the next iteration of the master plan.”

The recommended vote of "no action" passed on a voice vote.

Article 15
Change Board of Youth Services’ name to AYCC (Arlington Youth Counseling Center) Advisory Board

One of the best things about Arlington’s youth mental health services is that they offer help despite a family’s ability to pay, explained Helmuth.

Town Counsel Doug Heim said, “The Board of Youth Services has evolved over the last 62 years, and now supports the Youth and Counseling Center. It’s a terrific organization, and they want to rename themselves to reflect more accurately what they do. They also want to change the number of members; allow up to five members to be non-Arlington residents, which can bring in new and diverse input and fresh ideas; and add term limits.”

Lauren Boule (16), former Board of Youth Services member, said, “This makes sense, and it’s a long time coming, so I recommend it.”

Mark Rosenthal (14) agreed this is a good idea.

The main motion to change the name passed, 217-1.

Article 16
Amend Town Manager Act to revise appointment term in event of vacancy

This warrant article seeks to change how to fill the town manager position when the town manager leaves in the middle of a term.

“The town is currently required to fill the contract within 90 days with an Arlington resident, and we were lucky to have our current Town Manager Sandy Pooler fill in,” said Select Board Vice Chair John Hurd.

“Today’s proposal allows up to 180 days to appoint a town manager, and permits us to conduct a modern search, allowing out-of-town applicants and to appoint for three years,” added Hurd. 

The motion passed, 213-1.

Article 17
Authorize Select Board to publish legal notices on town’s website and/or in digital news sites

This article allows the town to publish legal notices via digital media, such as ACMi (Arlington’s TV news station) and YourArlington (online news site). Legal notices include issues related to elections, zoning, construction, contracts, Select Board, town clerk and Department of Planning and Community Development.

Hurd said: “We no longer have a local newspaper. This warrant article would bypass the requirement to put legal notices in print newspapers. If it’s not passed, we must publish in Boston newspapers, which are more expensive and local residents are not as likely to read.”

Article proponent Larry Slotnick (7) said that in 2022 it cost $190 to publish inThe Arlington Advocateversus $900 inThe Boston Globe. “Fewer and fewer Arlington residents subscribe to the Advocate.”

Michael Ruderman (9) said this would be a great boon to ACMi. “The Arlington Advocateis dead. It contains no local content, and there’s no reason to read it. This article gives digital providers the opportunity to publish legal notices.”

Roderick Holland (7) also supports this warrant article. “It brings the legal notice process into line with the publication process.”

Also supporting this article are Barbara Thornton (16) because “this supports ACMi and YourArlington” and Guillermo Hamlin (14), stating “it’s common sense.”

However, Loreti opposes this article. “We could publish in other local newspapers. Only Arlington is doing this, to support special legislation. The other 300 Massachusetts towns are not doing this.”

A 205-10 vote passed this motion.

Article 19
Repeal the 1976 law prohibiting the MBTA from locating a mass transportation facility within a certain distance of Arlington Catholic High School.

“The Select Board feels that the current law doesn’t make sense now,” said Hurd.

Stephen Revilak (1) wholeheartedly supports this article. “The decision back then was wrong to not have the Red Line into Boston, which affects the town’s commercial growth.”

Paul Schlichtman (9), an advocate for better public transportation, also supports this legislation. “Arlington deserves the opportunity to reexamine our relationship with the MBTA and to decide our transportation needs.” 

Peter Fiore (2), however, opposes this article. “Nobody brought this to the attention of Arlington Catholic High School 45 years ago.”

The motion passed, 169-41. 

Article 20
Amend the town’s Other Post-Employment Benefits Liability Trust Fund. This warrant article accepts a state law to handle how the town pays for retirees. 

“Arlington has been ahead of the game for its retirees’ funds. Because of changes in state law, we need to establish a health-care pension fund for retirees. We can invest funds in the same place that we invest in retirement funds; it’s a relative fund,” explained Pooler.

Ken Hughes, Arlington Contributory Retirement Board president, said, “Nothing will change if we adopt this legislation. We ask to keep the same fund, so we can go out and get better returns.” 

The article passed, 209-0.

Articles 21, 22 and 23
Transfer three town properties from the Redevelopment Board’s jurisdiction to the town manager.

These three articles all propose essentially the same thing -- to transfer control now under the Redevelopment Board to the town, explained Pooler.

Pooler wants this transfer because “the town shouldn’t have the Redevelopment Board do this. The Facilities Department should run these properties, because the Redevelopment Board doesn’t raise enough money from them,” said Pooler.

The Redevelopment Board voted in favor of this proposal, so they’re comfortable with this transition said Helmuth.

Nevertheless, several Town Meeting members oppose these articles.

John Worden (8) said the Redevelopment Board has managed these properties very well. “These three buildings are important historical buildings to the Town of Arlington. Redevelopment Board members must be Arlington residents, but the town manager needn’t live in Arlington.”

Loreti said the Redevelopment Board, on which he previously served, didn’t spend much time on these buildings. “The Redevelopment Board has powers under state law on how they operate. By keeping these properties under the Redevelopment Board, we will have the necessary information about who’s paying for how much and per square. I will vote no on all three articles.”

All three articles passed:

    • Article 21: 23 Maple St., 184-24;
    • Article 22: Central School Building, 20 Academy St.,183-25; and
    • Article 23: Jefferson Cutter House, 611 Mass. Ave., 186-21.
Watch the April 26 meeting on ACMi:
 Order of articles Monday

The town reported that on Monday, May 1, the meeting plans to first take up Article 37, the town budget. 

 Appendix B will be used to review each sub-budget in order.

Members may want to study the school budget report as well, which details how the schools spend the money and other sources of revenue.

 The superintendent plans to be available to answer questions about the school budget.

After that, the meeting plans to consider Article 38,the report of the Capital Planning Committee.

Time permitting, the meeting plans to address Article 9, postponed from April 24.

For further details about these articles, read notes by Christian Klein (10).

Town Meeting is scheduled to continue taking place each Monday evening and Wednesday evening from 8 to 11 p.m. until it has finished its work. The meetings take place in Town Hall, 730 Mass. Ave., and are also broadcast in real time byACMilocal public television station on its government channel.

TheTown Meeting dashboard reportspositive votes on Articles 16, 17, and 19 through 23. 

ACMi provides live coverage on the Government channel (Comcast 22, RCN 614, Verizon 26) and streaming live at The locally based cable television station also typically will rebroadcast each session multiple times.

Watch the April 26 meeting on ACMi:

The annotated warrant for the annual Town Meeting is available, but it does not contain the vote language or comments on the financial articles. They are to be added soon. 

Updates to the annotated warrant (amendments, substitute motions and presentations or statements are linked at the bottom of each article in the Additional Materials section):

Article 6 – Presentation submitted by John D. Leone, Precinct 8
Article 6 – Amendment by Chris Loreti, Precinct 7
Article 6 – Presentation by Chris Loreti, Precinct 7
Article 9 – Substitute Motion, Adam Badik, Precinct 5
Article 10 – Presentation by Clean Energy Future Committee
Article 10 – Letter from Pat Hanlon, Precinct 5
 Article 12 – FAQ submitted by Jordan Weinstein, Precinct 21
Article 12 – Statement from the Board of Health (handout was on the table Wed) 
Article 12 – Letter from Program for Global Public Health submitted by Robin Bergman, Precinct 12
Article 12 – Letter from Greg Dennis, Precinct 1
Article 12 – Letter from Shaw Industries submitted by Larry Slotnick, Precinct 7
Article 12 – Letter from Sierra Club of Massachusetts submitted by Beth Melofchik, Precinct 9
Article 12 – Letter re: Helihon Study, Jordan Weinstein, Precinct 21
Article 12 – Letter responding to Greg Dennis, Jordan Weinstein, Precinct 21
Article 12 - background on PFAS in Shaw Turf, Jordan Weinstein, Precinct 21
Article 14 – Substitute Motion, Lenard Diggins, Precinct 3
Article 29 – video by James Fleming, submitted by Vincent Baudoin, Precinct 1
Article 17 – Presentation by Larry Slotnick, Precinct 7
Article 19 – Background information, Paul Schlichtman, Precinct 9
Article 29 – Presentation by James Fleming, submitted by Vincent Baudoin, Precinct 1
Article 30 – video by James Fleming, submitted by Vincent Baudoin, Precinct 1
Article 30 – Presentation by James Fleming, submitted by Vincent Baudoin, Precinct 1
Article 30 – Statement from Chris Loreti, Precinct 7
Article 37 - Presentation on the APS Budget
Article 37 – Arlington Public Schools FY24 Report
Article 37 – Amendment by Mark Kaepplein, Precinct 9
Article 38 – Amendment by Judith Garber, Precinct 4
Article 38 – Letter submitted by Pat Hanlon, Precinct 5 and Alham Saadat, Precinct 4
Article 38 – Presentation of the Capital Planning Committee 
Article 48 – Conservation Commission Water Bodies Report
Article 49 – Presentation submitted by Liz Exton, Precinct 13

See the Town Meeting dashboard >>

A Special Town Meeting is set for Wednesday, May 3, and residents can read the PDF version of that warrant. The STM annotated warrant is expected to be available after the hearings have been held and that report completed. 

For the first time in years, the draft warrant for the annual Town Meeting was available to the public notably early, on Feb. 24, in advance of article hearings. That document has since been updated to the final warrant. Read it here >>

Further information about 19 citizen articles >> 

Select Board, public discuss articles: Round 1Round 2Artificial turfRound 3Round 4 and Round 5

The following reports are available:

2022 Annual Town Report 

Arlington Redevelopment Board

Select Board

Capital Planning Committee

CPA Committee

CDBG Report

Remote Participation Study Committee

Robbins Library update on ATM 2019, Article 38 

Arlington Public Schools FY24

Conservation Commission Water Bodies Report 

AHS Building Project Report 

YourArlington's main 2023 Town Meeting link >> 

This news summary was published Thursday, April 27, 2023, based on information from the Town of Arlington website and local resident Christian Klein. It was updated April 28, after Klein completed and posted his notes online, and again the same day, to include a summary by YourArlington freelancer Susan Gilbert. It was updated May 3, to add ACMi video window..