Chatham Committee Supports School Budget and Airport Bylaw Amendment

The Chatham Finance Committee convened to deliberate on several matters, notably the unanimous backing of the Monomoy Regional School District operating budget’s 4.8% increase, and the endorsement of two crucial airport articles. The committee also engaged in discussions about various high-profile capital projects including the Waterfront Bond article and the 90 Bridge Street project, both of which have seen increases in estimated costs. An additional focus was the proposed $4.5 million bond for the upwelling facility expansion. Furthermore, the committee supported proposed bylaw changes presented by the Community Preservation Committee and a tree protection bylaw, as well as deliberated on the redesign of the Transfer Station project.

The meeting opened with the committee addressing the increased operating budget for the Monomoy Regional School District, ultimately showing unanimous support for the appropriation. The increase, amounting to 4.8%, is aimed at maintaining the quality of education within the district.

Subsequently, the committee turned its attention to airport-related issues. Two articles presented by the airport commission were unanimously endorsed. The first involved a bylaw amendment that restored compliance with Massachusetts General Law by reinstating the word “not.” The second article approved was a revision of the airport approach zone map to ensure alignment with current conditions and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advisory circulars.

The Waterfront Bond article sparked a review, with Greg Burman providing a historical and fiscal overview of the project. The committee examined the incremental rise in project cost estimates, from approximately $3 million to $5 million in town funds. Ted Keon further detailed the project’s design stages and cost breakdown, with no contention or debate arising from the discussions.

A significant portion of the meeting concentrated on the 90 Bridge Street project, where members delved into the financial specifics of completing the project, now requiring an additional $7.6 million in town funds. The committee grappled with understanding the full financial impact on taxpayers, taking into account the $2.3 million remaining from an existing bond and the evolution of the project’s design. Despite facing substantial cost overruns, the project’s scope remained unchanged, a point that was emphasized during the presentation of the site plan and project development details.

The committee also discussed a $4.5 million bond to support the upwelling facility expansion project, which in total requires $7.6 million. With a combination of town funds and outside funding sources, the project’s total costs amount to approximately $11.4 million. Renee, participating virtually, stressed the town’s shellfish program’s economic significance, citing commercial landings and the number of recreational permits sold. The discussion also considered the potential impacts of sea level rise on waterfront access and the importance of this project for the local shellfish industry and waterfront access enhancement.

Another element of the meeting involved the potential historic restoration of the Coast Guard building in Chatham. The discussion here focused on the historic significance of the building and its contribution to the Stage Harbor area. The committee also evaluated the borrowing plan for the Bridge Street project, discussing the potential tax implications and the idea of revising the article for clarity.

The Transfer Station project was another topic of discussion, with the committee being informed about the discovery of a large stump dump and the consequent need to redesign the project to minimize impact and address safety and odor concerns. Despite concerns expressed over taxpayer impact, the committee voted 7 to 2 in favor of supporting the $2.9 million Capital project debt exclusion for the Transfer Station.

Gary Tennyson presented proposed updates to the bylaw regarding the appointment of committee members to the Community Preservation Committee, which the committee unanimously supported. Additionally, Dey Holt from Chatham Friends of Trees proposed a tree protection bylaw, aimed at protecting town-owned trees on public lands, which also received unanimous support from the committee.

The committee concluded with a plan to discuss any last-minute articles in the following meeting and to provide feedback on the draft report before adjourning unanimously.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Town Manager:
Jill R. Goldsmith
Financial Oversight Board Officials:
Stephen S. Daniel, Norma B. Avellar, Tommy Doane, Barbara Matteson, John Pappalardo, Jo Ann Sprague, Andy Young, Kristin Andres, Tracy Shields, Dean P. Nicastro (Select Board Liaison), Carrie Mazerolle (Staff Liaison)

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