Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

Select Board, January 22, 2024

Fiscal ’24 First Quarter Financial Report

In the fiscal 2024 first quarter financial report presented by the comptroller, the “burn rate” for expense and revenue should align at 25%. The presentation included the following areas of interest:

  • The Department of Public Works (DPW) shows a year-to-date expenditure of 51%, seemingly high but actual expenditures amount to 26% due to early encumbrances of contracts within the fiscal year.
  • The recreation facilities are at 38% due to encumbrances, while pensions and contributions to stabilization funds are at 100% because they are transferred on July 1.
  • Revenues from motor vehicle excise are at 9%, representing a timing variance with the bulk of collection expected in February. Hotel tax is at 63% due to conservative estimates as well as an increase from previous years.
  • Fees stand at 44%, driven by ambulance fees at 50% following rate increases, and the host community agreement fees impacted by new Cannabis Commission regulations mandating municipalities to quantify additional costs pertaining to cannabis-related services instead of setting a fixed sales percentage.
  • Interest is at 471% over the estimate, with anticipation that rates may decline in the future.

All enterprise funds are on pace to meet their budgets, notable variances being with the rink enterprise which collects most revenues in the winter.

ARPA and stabilization fund balances were provided without substantial transactions, except for posting interest and fund transfers.

Presentation on the Fox library

In the presentation on the Fox branch library, Anna Litten, director of libraries, discussed the importance of the Fox and the need for improvements due to accessibility and space limitations. The library sees extensive use and increased demand for programs and services, while challenges stem from the building’s outdated structure.

With the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners announcing a new round of library construction program grants, Arlington submitted a letter of intent for potentially covering up to 50% of eligible costs. A warrant article seeking $150,000 for assessment, planning, feasibility, or design will be presented at Town Meeting. Creating useful spaces may also include exploring housing colocation, similar to Boston’s West End branch redevelopment.

The vision emphasized by the library leadership is a trusted resource that empowers the community, and the Fox branch facility needs committee is engaged in project discussions to redesign the Fox library and its surrounding community spaces. They called upon the Select Board and residents to advocate for a reimagined library.

The Board expressed support and interest in the library enhancement project, acknowledging its value to the community and the opportunities for housing colocation, reinforcing community togetherness and resource access. The Select Board motioned to receive the report.

No Parking Signage on Wildwood Avenue

The Select Board received a memorandum recommending no parking allowed on the north side of Wildwood Ave between Churchill Ave and Bartlett Ave, with corresponding changes to traffic rules and orders. This decision aimed to address safety concerns noted by residents and town staff alike. Residents and members of the public spoke to the urgency and need for addressing the dangerous parking situation.

Jim Feeney, the town manager, indicated that sign installations signaling no parking zones had already begun. Additionally, considering potentially increased pedestrian safety measures, the town manager shared intentions to actively maintain a police presence at the location during peak periods for an undetermined time.

The Board expressed support for the restriction, acknowledging its potential impact on safety and requested updates on the situation post-implementation. Board members took a unanimous vote to approve the no-parking signage to enhance safety on Wildwood Avenue.

Resident Petition for Park Avenue Pedestrian Safety Improvements

A petition was presented to the Select Board featuring over 1,000 signatures from Arlington community members urging the Board to address safety issues on the Park Avenue corridor. The issue gained urgency following incidents where pedestrians were struck by vehicles.

Potential quick build strategies like curb extensions were discussed as cost-effective solutions to improve safety. The Board and Mr. Feeney acknowledged the seriousness of the matter and expressed their commitment to action. Mr. Feeney detailed immediate response measures such as increased police presence and road signage. He also discussed increased capital funding in future budgets for traffic safety enhancements.

Public comments from community members echoed the concerns raised by the petition and stressed the need for urgent action. With several intersections along Park Avenue included in the town’s Complete Streets prioritization plan, the Board acknowledged this area as a top priority and shared their intentions to explore immediate and long-term solutions to improve pedestrian safety.

The Board unanimously received the petition, demonstrating their recognition of the safety concerns along Park Avenue and their resolve to address them through various measures, including potential infrastructure changes and community safety campaigns.

Discussion and Potential Vote: Select Board Warrant Articles for Annual Town Meeting

The Select Board discussed potential warrant articles for the annual town meeting including changes to the town manager act, shifting the date of town meeting, and private way repair funding.

Diane Mahon inquired about the status of the home rule petition for the town manager act, the entity responsible for the town meeting date change, and clarification on the private way repair warrant article and funding mechanism.

Mr. Feeney confirmed he would be submitting warrant articles for contingent changes in the town manager act related to the town clerk appointment, a private way repair enterprise fund, and amendments to the private way repair bylaw. Additionally, economic development and planning department personnel contemplated changes to the vacant storefront registry bylaw. Attorney Cunningham reported on the progress of the home rule petition in the state legislature.

New Business

During the new business segment:

  • Mrs. Mahon requested updates on the home rule petition and clarification about warrant article submissions, and proposed public access to meetings with the DCR commissioner regarding ongoing combined sewage overflows.
  • Mr. Feeney expressed gratitude for the exhaustive effort made by the Comptroller’s office to update the town’s chart of accounts and commended the DPW water shop team for their efforts during snow and water main break events.
  • Stephen DeCourcey and Lenard Diggins highlighted the importance of addressing traffic safety and infrastructure improvement needs throughout Arlington. They also mentioned initiatives like the MLK event and the Connect Arlington survey.
  • The warrant article submission period was noted as closing soon.

The board motioned to adjourn, ending the meeting.



Inside Arlington was created by two Arlingtonians who are deeply concerned by the decline in local news and its impact on civic life. Our mission is to provide accessible information to Arlington residents to foster an informed and engaged citizenry. And we want to do it in an economically sustainable way. More…


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