Saturday, August 21, 2010

Statewide Trend: Tax Bills

The property tax is by far the largest and most reliable component of revenue for cities and towns. Data collected by DLS makes it clear that whether property values are moving up or down, property taxes will increase, except in rare instances, given the need to provide ever more costly services. This is particularly true during times when there is less state aid, stagnant local receipts, and little new growth. Over each of the past ten years, the statewide average single-family tax bill has increased in both actual and constant dollars. The weighted average tax bill increased in 2010 by $140, or 3.3 percent, to $4,390, the smallest percentage increase of any year in the past decade. The percentage increase during this time ranged from the current low to a high of 6.7 percent in 2002. The cumulative percentage increase over this period is 55.3 percent, an average of 5.5 percent each year. Generally speaking, the average bill has recently increased at a slower pace suggesting a few factors are at play, such as leaner budgets, reduced excess levy capacity and Proposition 2 ½ override fatigue.
bold added for my own emphasis

Read the full article here:

Updated 8/22/10 - The Boston Globe headlines for the Sunday paper referenced this same report.

Franklin, MA

DEA: prescription drug “Take-Back” initiative

The Drug Enforcement Administration and government, community, public health and law enforcement partners today announced a nationwide prescription drug “Take-Back” initiative that seeks to prevent increased pill abuse and theft. DEA will be collecting potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for destruction at sites nationwide o n Saturday, September 25 th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.
This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Many Americans are not aware that medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are increasing at alarming rates, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, many Americans do not know how to properly dispose of their unused medicine, often flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away – both potential safety and health hazards.
For locations near you, check on the DEA website here. You can search by zip code and within a radius of that zip code. Currently there are not locations close to Franklin. However, the website claims additional locations will be added and to check back often.

The top page on the DEA website is here:

Franklin, MA

Friday, August 20, 2010

Downtown Improvement Project - collection

The collection of information on the Franklin, MA Downtown Improvement Project can be found here. Note the project has also been called or referred to as 'street-scape' or 'revitalization'.

The collection will be added to as the project and discussions continue.

Franklin, MA website links   ---------------------

The Franklin Planing and Community Development project page

July 2010 Drawings

June 2010 Design update

Proposed Pedestrian Improvements May 2010

Proposed Intersection Improvements May 2010

Franklin Matters website links ----------------------------

The May 12 presentation document

The May 12 meeting video recording

Underground Utility - survey

Survey results

Underground Utility - clarifications

Underground Utility - 'the rest of the story'

Improvement Project Presentation to Town Council and Downtown Partnership from Jan 2010

Road construction to cause detours this fall

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via The Milford Daily News News RSS by Ashley Studley/Daily News staff on 8/19/10

Town Administrator Jeffrey Nutting last night asked drivers to be aware of potential detours this fall due to reconstruction of Wachusett Street.

He said the road work could affect school traffic by Parmenter Elementary.

"School will be in session, and we're working with the school department to let citizens know there's a potential for detours," Nutting told the Town Council.

He said the project, which includes drainage and sidewalk improvements, will not be finished until next year.

"There will be a lot of shuffling around," he said.

Nutting said detour routes will likely be announced in the next few weeks.

Things you can do from here:

Constitution Day Lessons from Sunnylands Classroom

Recalling the recent handbook discussion at the School Committee meeting on 8/11/10, this article caught my eye.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


The United Regional Chamber’s Young Professional Organization (YPO) has postponed its Chowder & Chili Cookoff scheduled for Sept.1 at the Boston Sports Club in Franklin. The rescheduled date will be announced later.

Franklin, MA

Underground Utilities - the rest of the story

With homage to the late Paul Harvey, whose signature line is quite appropriate here. For those watching the Town Council meeting on Wednesday evening, we were able to find out the "rest of the story" on putting the utilities underground.

1 - What was presented earlier is still valid.

2 - The section of W Central between the bridge and Emmons, and Emmons between W Central and Main St were originally considered for underground utilities. The estimate for these sections would be 4-5 million dollars. Due to the estimate, these sections have been excluded from the current planning.

3 - Once the utilities go underground, the electric service is delivered to within 2 feet of the property line. The property owner would then either connect to the service there or need to run the service to where his power box is currently. This cost would be paid for the property owner. The utilities have thus far refused to estimate this cost. The cost estimates would be better obtained from electrical contractors. The property owners would have to pay for the work from their business income. In cases where the property is rental units, this cost would likely result in higher rental rates.

4 - Franklin would need to front the money for the work to be done due to the way the utilities would do it. NationalGrid would be 'easy' as its work and funding could be accomplished within a year. Both Verizon and Comcast, due to the expense involved, would require a longer period to obtain the funds and therefore would spread the work out over a longer period. This is not acceptable as all the work needs to be done when the street construction is done. Franklin can arrange to borrow the money for the work. The utilities would then through the customer surcharges reimburse Franklin.

5 - To go through this borrowing process, Franklin needs to hold a public hearing. The public hearing was agreed to by all the councilors present as they did not feel comfortable to make the decision on their own. The date for the public hearing was not determined during the Council meeting.

The agenda document for the Town Council meeting has supporting information (memos from Jeff Nutting) on this matter here. Look to pages 6, 7 and 8.

Franklin, MA

Town Council - 08/18/10

The collection of live reported posts from the Town Council meeting Wednesday, August 18th can be found here:

Franklin, MA

Dean College: Information session August 26

Dean College School of Professional and Continuing Studies hosts information session August 26

The School of Professional and Continuing Studies (SPCS) at Dean College will be holding an information session regarding fall programs on Thursday, August 26, 2010. The event will run from 6:00-7:00 p.m. in the Green Family Library Learning Commons, located on the Dean College campus.

“At these information sessions we will provide program overviews and the opportunity for potential students to schedule advising appointments,” said Renee Vachon Danho, Dean of SPCS. “Now that we are offering part-time baccalaureate degrees in Business and Liberal Arts and, this is a great opportunity to learn more about the options available to past, current and prospective part-time students.”

This event is free and open to the public. For more information regarding the School of Professional and Continuing Studies at Dean College, please call (508) 541-1624 or email Visit us online at

Franklin, MA

Do you have electronics to recycle?

I am posting this here for two reasons, one to help the Blackstone Valley area and two, if you have electronics to recycle, Cranston is not a bad drive from here.

Keep Blackstone Valley Beautiful, a program of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council and in partnership with REI Cranston and Indie Cycle, LCC will hold an electronics recycling drive on Saturday, September 4th, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at REI, located at 22 Chapel View Boulevard in Cranston.

“This electronics recycling drive is being held in conjunction with REI’s annual Labor Day sale,” said Mathhew DeMello, Keep Blackstone Valley Beautiful program coordinator and AmeriCorps*VISTA member. .

Residents are encouraged to recycle the following items, all free of charge: computers, servers, printers, televisions, CRT monitors, LCD monitors, laptops, UPS battery back-ups, and stereo equipment. No other items will be accepted.

Donations benefit the environmental programs of Keep Blackstone Valley Beautiful. For more information, call 724-2200 or visit

Indie Cycle, LLC, a Providence-based company, recycles the electronic items. Their zero-waste policy means that everything is reused, resold, reclaimed or recycled.

About the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council
Established in 1985, the agency’s mission is to create positive change with regard to community values by developing and promoting coordinated, responsible and sustainable tourism in Rhode Island’s Blackstone Valley communities. To plan and collaborate with intrastate, state, regional, national and international organizations to sustain and enhance the character of our destination, and to develop the public and private natural, historic, cultural, ethnic, industrial, recreational, educational, special events, artistic and commercial resources in Pawtucket, Central Falls, Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Burrillville and Glocester.

About Keep America Beautiful
Keep America Beautiful is a national nonprofit public education organization dedicated since 1953 to engaging individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their local community environments. For half a century, Keep America Beautiful has been the nation’s leading community improvement organization successfully implementing an effective, systematic strategy for reducing waste, preventing litter and beautifying communities nationwide.

About Keep Blackstone Valley Beautiful
Keep Blackstone Valley Beautiful serves as the environmental education and awareness program of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council. We are focusing on preventing litter, reducing waste and beautifying our communities by working with government, business and civic groups in Burrillville, Central Falls, Cumberland, Glocester, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, Smithfield and Woonsocket. We work with these cities and towns to understand their specific needs and to create programs that will enhance their landscapes. Emily Soergel, the program coordinator, is sponsored by AmeriCorps*VISTA.

Visit the event's Facebook page

Franklin, MA

In the News - Third Thursday, public hearing

Franklin prepares for final Third Thursday

Franklin to hold public hearing on putting utilities underground

Franklin, MA

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Live reporting - Closing

Construction on Wachusetts St to start soon, will be completed next year

Pfeffer - program for road repair?
Nutting - I am ready to meet when you are

Zollo - status of work on Main St
Nutting - work has not yet been completed, the service needs to be cut to each property
the plates need to be held open until testing etc is done
I have to say at least another month

Will the road be repaved complete?
In 2012 when the full project is done
the plates will be done before the winter

McGann - requesting Brutus for a presentation on Water Treatment

Vallee - congratulations to School For Performing Arts

Pfeffer - Chilson Beach closing this week
only beech around that doesn't have the tall lifeguard chairs
can we get Tri-County to collaborate with us to get them before next summer season

Mason - Jeff could you address the citizens comment?
Nutting - given personnel issues and threatened legal action I have no comment

McGann - based upon what I have heard tonight, there is no reason for this gentleman to be harrassed.

Vallee - motion to adjourn

Franklin, MA

Live reporting - Action items


1. Resolution 10-46: Appropriation – Repaving a Portion of Washington Street
McGann recused himself from this vote
Developer put the funds aside for this, this is moving the funds from one account to another to actually do the paving.
motion to approve, passed 5-0 (McGann recused)

2. Resolution 10-47: Appropriation – Spring Street Culvert

Nutting - during the spring rains, the culvert collapsed, by the time the bids came in, we still need to get it done before the winter

Pfeffer - where about is the culvert?
Nutting - description to be added

Motion to approve, passed via roll call 6-0

Franklin, MA

Live reporting - Underground utilities


From Alpine Pl to the railroad bridge, estimated at $1 million
Ranges from 65 to 120 (more than the 65-75 I quoted earlier)

Complications on the utilities coordinating their activities
Nationalgrid could do the work within a year, Verizon and Comcast would take more than a year

Zollo - strategic and long term issue for downtown development, need to have more than a one year outlook, reinvestment is needed. I would support to put the utilities underground, it is the most cost effective to do it now. I understand the issues with the current economy. I would support a public hearing on this.

McGann - I second Shannon's issue with this not being the time to do so but let's get the public hearing to have the citizens and businesses express their thoughts on the matter.

Pfeffer - Why the financing up front? I don't understand that part of it.
Nutting - we would front the costs and have the utilities pay us back over the term of their collections

If you have a Verizon land line user you get assessed, but not on internet
If you have Comcast cable, you get assessed if phone no

Jones - I would approve getting a public hearing on this. I walked this stretch and see only a dozen or so poles. I agree that it would be the time now to do so although not the best time in the economy to do so.

There is a separate issue with how the electric utility would be delivered. The utility will deliver the service two feet inside the property line but where the service entrance is in relation to that is not known. 

Vallee - I have always been concerned with downtown as we are behind the scenes where other towns have gone. On Emmons St, from Main to W Central has any one approached Dean if they want to do that?
Nutting - no

Mason - I have a bunch of questions about this. I feel there are a lot of people out there who won't see the the value of this investment. This is not the time to do so. I don't this would be the Council's place to do this without business owner input, and from the citizens to express their thoughts on this. They may feel there is long range benefits to this.

McGann - Some of the dwellings are rental units, so if the landlord does it, the rents will need to go up.

Mason - I thought this was a larger area, from Emmons to Alpine.
Nutting - When we priced that section, the Emmons and W Central streets, the price is astronomical; 4-5 million. Maybe we made a false assumption assuming that that would be off the table. It would be nice to do them but it is a lot of money.

Franklin, MA

live reporting: Town Council

Present: Jones, Vallee, Mason, Pfeffer, McGann, Zollo
Absent: Kelly, Whalen, Powderly

A. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – July 21, 2010
motion to approve, passed 6-0

Meetings of the Town Council are Recorded
Steve Sherlock is also recording the meeting for Franklin Matters
Third Thursday


Tim Conlin - Licensed for work, yet problems with Franklin DPW
needed to get a water/sewer permit signed
Problem with Mr Yadisernia, unresolved, undetermined
A long history of providing service to Franklin yet problems with Yadisernia

Public Land Use Committee - Timothy O'Toole
Motion to approve, passed 6-0

F. HEARINGS - none


Franklin, MA

Franklin, MA: utility wires to go underground - clarifications

Based upon feedback and questions from readers here and on our Facebook page let me add:

A couple of things to be clear about:

1 - SOME of the utilities are going underground per the project funding anyway. That is shown in the green area on the map. The question is do we, Franklin, choose to pay for the 'red' section to also go underground at the same time (to save money as it would be cheaper with the road work already underway) or not.

2 - The issue of one way versus two way traffic is open and separate from the utilities. I'll be doing another survey on that aspect once this one finishes.

3 - Yes, the Federal and State grants ultimately came from our pockets. The difference is the money is already here in our Franklin account, collecting interest until spent on this project. The question being resolved by the planning process is to determine exactly how this money is to be spent downtown.

Does that help? If not, please let me know.

Third Thursday - August 19th

A diverse mix of art appreciation, networking and shopping rounds out the upcoming Franklin Downtown Partnership’s Third Thursday event on August 19 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Jane’s Frames, 11 East Central Street, is hosting an Artist Opening Reception, presenting Oils and Acrylics by Robin Wessman. Kia Olsson will perform live music and refreshments will be served.

Around town that evening several shops will offer specials:

  • Downtown Consignment on Main Street shoppers can save 50 percent at the Summer Clearance Sale and enjoy refreshments
  • A Cut Above Salon, 56 East Central Street, will offer free hair cuts with another service, as well as coupons and free hair products
  • Sarapaan Beads & Jewelry, 21 East Central Street, will demonstrate bracelet making
  • The Rome Restaurant, 4 East Central Street, will offer dinner for two for $20

As it is every Thursday, the Franklin Historical Museum on West Central Street will be open for tours from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Berry Insurance, 9 Main Street, will host the United Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals Organization, a group of people in their 20s and 30s who have an interest in networking, community involvement and professional development. All are welcome to attend the event and can purchase tickets for the First Annual Chowder and Chili Championship in September.

The Franklin Downtown Partnership is a group of community leaders, business owners and residents whose mission is the economic revival of Franklin’s downtown.

The Partnership’s next general meeting is Thursday, September 16, at 8:30 a.m., and its next scheduled event is the Harvest Festival on September 26. All interested vendors should contact Mary Graff at

For membership or sponsorship information please contact Executive Director Lisa Piana at (774)571-3109 or

Updated 5/17/11 - sometime in the past couple of months, Downtown Consignment moved to an unknown location in Plainville. The Franklin Art Association now has a gallery in this location.

Franklin, MA

Franklin, MA: Town Council - Agenda - 8/18/10

The Town Council is scheduled to meet this evening at 7:00 PM.

The agenda is not yet available on the Franklin, MA website.

Under the new Open Meeting rules, it is likely posted on a window at the Municipal Bldg.

Updated: 8/18/10 the agenda was added to the website sometime today, hurrah!

A. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – July 21, 2010

B. ANNOUNCEMENTS -Meetings of the Town Council are Recorded



Public Land Use Committee - Timothy O'Toole





1. Resolution 10-46: Appropriation – Repaving a Portion of Washington Street
2. Resolution 10-47: Appropriation – Spring Street Culvert





O. EXECUTIVE SESSION – Negotiations, Litigation, Real Property, as May Be Required


Want to help with the Long Range Financial Planning?

The Long Range Financial Planning Committee is considering expansion of the Committee by two members. The Committee meets approximately 8-10 times per year and is tasked with looking at the 3-5 year financial picture of the Town. 

Anyone interested in being considered for the Committee may email a letter of interest to the Town Administrator at or fax a copy to 508-520-4903. 

Letters of interest will be  accepted until August 30th. 

This was posted to the Franklin website here:

The committee is currently composed of three Town Council, and two each from the School Committee, Finance Committee and general public. By adding two more citizens, this should help broaden the representation for the citizens.

Current members

Town Council: Scott Mason, Shannon Zollo, Steve Whalen
School Committee: Susan Rohrbach, Roberta Trahan
Finance Committee: Jim Roche (Vice-Chair), Rebecca Cameron
Citizens: Doug Hardesty (Chair), Deb Bartlett

Franklin, MA

"a natural stormwater-filtration system"

He said the town is indirectly contributing $98,000 to the project - which comes from in-house labor from the engineering and highway departments.
He said town laborers can't devote all their time to the projects, so they'll take longer to complete.
"The whole idea of the grant was not to spend town money," he said. "That's the whole idea: to use as much in-house resources as possible."

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here:

Franklin adding to detention pond

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 

Franklin, MA

Dean College: President's Cup Golf Tournament

The 14th annual Dean College President’s Cup Golf Tournament is scheduled for Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at the New England Country Club, Bellingham, MA.

Check-in, registration and breakfast begins at 8 a.m. The tournament begins with a shotgun start and scramble format at 9 a.m., and concludes with a luncheon and awards at 2 p.m.

For more information or to register, please contact the Dean College Office of alumni relations at 1-888-711-3326, or go online to

Franklin, MA

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

FYI - Boston Subway users

In order to collect data on the behavior of airborne contaminants, the study involves releasing non-toxic, inert, odorless gas and particle tracers into the subway system. Particle and gas concentrations will be sampled in more than 20 stations and in subway cars across the MBTA subway system.  The deliberate release of chemical or biological agents is of primary concern, but the study also helps researchers understand airflow for smoke or unintentional spills of chemicals or fuels.  This research can be used by the MBTA in developing evacuation, ventilation, and other incident response plans. 

Read more here

Franklin, MA

Franklin, MA: Underground Utilities - survey

The facts:
  1. The Downtown Revitalization Project is funded by state and federal grants. It is not funded by local taxpayer money.  The grant funds are restricted to use in the Downtown District.
  2. Electric wiring near the bridge and that related to street lights along Main St will be going underground regardless as part of the streetscape work in the Downtown District.
  3. The additional stretch of utility wiring that is being considered for putting the utility wires underground is outside the Downtown District according to the grant funding. This area is from the bridge along East Central to approximately Simons Furniture store. This stretch is proposed to be paid for by surcharge fees from the utility companies and paid by their customers (ultimately those of us in Franklin).
  4. The ESTIMATED fees for the average residential customer would be a total surcharge of approximately $65-75. Because multiple companies are involved (electric, and two cable), the specific details on the timing of the surcharge remain to be worked out. The companies would spread the surcharge amount out over time to minimize the effect on an individual utility bill. We would see the minor increase in both the electric and cable bills. The surcharges are finite and will end after being paid in full.  
  5. Putting the utilities underground now is drastically cheaper than normal due to the proposed road construction.  If the utilities aren’t put underground now, it likely will not be considered until the next major road repair of the area (ideally decades from now).

The area already covered by the grant money is shown on the map in the light green. The area in question is shown in pink.

Additional information on the project can be found here:

The Downtown Improvement Project review meeting held on May 12 was broadcast and recorded for review here:

The poll question can be found in the center column on the top of the Franklin Matters web page. The question asks "Would you pay approx. $70 to put the utilities underground?" and takes a Yes or No answer.

Feel free to leave a comment here or send me an email.  The Town Council email addresses can be found on the Franklin web page here:

My thanks to Tina Powderly for help in crafting this posting.

Updated 8/29/10
The survey results were Yes - 22, No - 44.

"should be done to benefit the aesthetics of downtown"

... the recession creates obstacles, Nutting said.
"In the present, we're in a different situation. We have to look at it differently," he said. "We want to make sure we do our due diligence and give citizens and business owners the opportunity to come in and ask questions and have their voices be heard before we make any kind of decision."
But the decision has to be made relatively soon, as downtown construction to widen sidewalks, raise crosswalks, reroute traffic and other improvements are planned to begin next year.
"We have a bylaw in town that says when we re-pave a road, we can't reopen it for five years," Mason said. "We either do it during reconstruction or forget about it."

Franklin council to discuss placing utility lines underground

Franklin, MA

In the News - accident, Chronicle, Chilson Beach

DA identifies woman who died on I-495

WCVB's 'Chronicle' coming to Franklin on Wednesday

Franklin, MA

Monday, August 16, 2010

Franklin, MA: Trash/Recycle Survey Results

As promised, the full set of results from the recent Trash and Recycle survey are contained within the links here. I have provided three reports to access the data.
  1. The full and complete set containing the Ref#, the Overall answer (Yes or No), and the comments for both questions. Note: if the comment field is blank, there was nothing submitted. Both comment sections were optional. The Yes/No question was mandatory.
  2. The set of answers for the question: "What DO you like about the process?"
  3. The set of answers for the question: "What DON'T you like about the process?"

You can access these files directly here:
  1. The full and complete set
  2. The DO answers
  3. The DON'T answers

You can also read them on the web via Scribd here:

And finally to make it easy to read, the document with the full results is here:

FM Trash/Recycle Survey Results Full 100816

In case you missed it, the quick summary was posted here:

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to view the document on Franklin Matters.

Franklin, MA: high school field advertising

One source of additional revenue for school athletics that has been approved is advertising in the high school field house. The program was successfully piloted and expanded to include similar banners for the outside athletic field. These banners are posted along the fence on the "home" side of the stands.

Go Franklin!

Franklin, MA

In the News - Latin options

Franklin schools look to modern Latin method

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 

Franklin, MA

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Native Plants of Franklin

Greetings Franklin! Were any of you able to identify last week's mystery plant?

This is a closeup of goldenrod, which is in bloom now in fields everywhere. There are many kinds of goldenrod, or Solidago L., and they are difficult to tell apart, but all of them are native to North America.

Goldenrod has a reputation for causing allergies. However, this is unfair and incorrect. The real culprit for sneezing right now is ragweed, which is also in bloom. Goldenrod has heavy pollen grans that fall quickly to the ground. The plant relies on insects to carry the pollen from one flower to another. Ragweed, on the other hand, has lightweight pollen which is small enough to float around on the wind.

Goldenrod is perennial that grows in dramatic clusters. It attracts many insects. If you aren't a fan of insects in your yard, consider them to be bird food. All birds, especially baby birds, require insects in their diet.

And here is next week's puzzler, being visited by a hummingbird:

Hint: it's another common flower that is in bloom and feeding hummingbirds right now. Post your answers in the comments section, and have fun!

Franklin, MA

Trash/Recycle Survey - results

The survey results are in. The question was:
Overall - is the curbside trash/recycle process better than before?
69 answered Yes, 17 answered No.

Thank you all for participating. 86 total responses!

The complete set of results and comments will be posted Monday.

Franklin, MA

In the News - tiramisu, St Rocco's

Woman's tiramisu cookie named tops in Franklin contest

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 

Family fun at Feast of St. Rocco

Franklin, MA

No Gatorade shower for winners!

One of the traditions for winning football teams is to douse the coach with the handy bucket of Gatorade.

Don't look for this to happen in Franklin, at least not on the artificial surface at the FHS' Pisini Field. The sign posted below reads:

The operative words:
This facility is for the use of town residents. to protect this field the following are prohibited: 
  • sports drinks, soda, alcohol, coffee, or any other beverage other than water.

Oh, and while the pressbox advertises the field name as Pisini Field, why does this sign only say "Franklin High School Oak Street Field"?

Franklin, MA