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Only three articles to be decided at Special Town Meeting

Date: 10/11/2011

Oct. 10, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM — Wilbraham has released its warrant for the upcoming Special Town Meeting, which is scheduled to take place in the auditorium at Minnechaug Regional High School on Oct. 18 at 7 p.m.

A total of three articles make up the warrant.

“I don’t anticipate this being a long meeting,” Town Administrator Robert Weitz said. “The articles are fairly straightforward.”

Article 1 of the warrant calls for a special legislation request, which would allow the town to change or extend the Country Club of Wilbraham’s lease of the land.

The Country Club of Wilbraham is currently in the midst of a 25-year lease with the town, which was voted upon at a Special Town Meeting in 2000, according to the warrant. The banks that financed the country club have asked that the club extend its lease with the town as additional collateral for their investment.

“That golf course is town land and the town leases it to the country club,” Weitz explained. “We contemplated extending the lease when the country club asked us to, but we found we could only offer them a five-year extension. This article is asking for flexibility to make changes going forward.”

Weitz added that any changes to the lease would have to be approved by the town’s residents.

Article 2 calls for the town to have the ability to remove headstones or memorial monuments from the town’s cemeteries for the purpose of restoring or repairing damaged headstones.

Weitz explained that this article is a direct response to damage to the Adams Cemetery on Tinkham Road, which was in the path of the June 1 tornado. With the qualified laborers for such repairs being outside of the town, under the current law, the repair process has been slowed, as the workers could be charged with a crime if they were to remove a stone, even with the intention of repairing it and putting it back.

Article 3 asks that the town appropriate $500,000 to the renovation and expansion of the Spec Pond Recreation Complex. However, the money transfer is contingent on the town being awarded the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant it applied for, which would give the town up to $500,000 toward the project.

“This grant requires that you do the work first and then they reimburse you. I’m not sure why they do it that way, but that’s the way it is,” Weitz explained. “This article is a contingent bonding authorization, so if we don’t get the grant, we don’t spend the money. We were hoping to know about whether or not we got the grant before the meeting, but we haven’t heard, so we decided to so this in a contingent manner. We’ve checked with town council and it is legal to do it this way.”

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