Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Franklin Candidate for Town Council: Judith Pfeffer

Judith Pfeffer and I sat down at the end of August to talk about her re-election to the Town Council for the ballot Nov 7, 2017. (She has stated that if elected this will be her last term.)

Franklin Matters: Tell me a bit about yourself, your family, and your life here in Franklin? What is your Franklin story?

Pfeffer: I come from a long line of family members who have believed in community service and community commitment. I am a lifelong Franklin resident. One uncle was the town doctor (Dr. Crowley). One uncle was the fire chief (Connor Pond). My mother, Mabel Pond, taught school here for over 24 years. Another uncle (Leonard Remington) was the longtime chair of the School Committee and for whom the Remington School is named. They all believed in community service and community commitment (as do I).

I was (a member of) the Finance Committee for 9 years and then was elected to the Town Council. With the exception of a two-year hiatus, I have remained a member of the Council. If elected this year, it will be my last term. There needs to be someone else who will question everything. To ask questions and figure out how it works. Usually the first year, when someone is elected, it is a learning year. You figure out who is telling you the truth and who is telling you what you want to hear; who you can believe, and who you should not believe.

I think the main reason I am running this term is that the next budget is going to be a major challenge. The School Committee has basically used most of its resources and they will be looking for additional funding and we can only spend the amount of money that we bring in. It is going to be a challenging time, and it will need to be a fair time as we cannot decimate other town departments to more adequately fund one department.

The town raises money from taxes, money from State aid and money from new growth. We have a certain set amount of funds received and we need to endorse a budget which balances all department and for all aspects of our residents, from the very young to our seniors.

We have all these apartments being built over which the town council had no control. I think many of the residents believe that we, the Town Council, put in the 280 apartments along West Central St, we had no choice about it. The only good thing about it is that as they are all apartments, all 280 counted towards our 40B number. We have actively tried for years to increase our affordable housing to the 10% level. This year we were allowed to bring into our affordable number, Glen Meadow Apartments, which had dropped off the affordable list and came back under new ownership. Currently we are at 11 and half to 12% affordable.

Even though we are that high right now, we have 99 condo units coming on Pond Street, housing units on Lincoln St, housing units on Maple St, and every house that goes in will cut our percentage number. We have two 40B developments under review; one on Cottage (Magdalene Village) and another along Chestnut St (behind Franklin Ford). Those on Chestnut St will be all apartments. Both of these projects are not in the best locations and the town is at and over our required percentage requirements.

Franklin Matters: What experience or background will help you to serve in this role? What do you bring to the table that helps to set you apart from the others?

Pfeffer: I bring experience, knowledge and commitment. I have been involved with the Housing Trust for a number of years. Its main purpose is to find homes, buy them and then sell them to first time buyers as affordable housing. We have been busy recently doing 3 or 4 but we haven’t done one since the last one on King St. I have a commitment to fairness in and during the budget process with all departments being treated fairly. I have a commitment to making decisions that will impact fairly the greater number of residents. I have a commitment to the seniors in Franklin and in making sure that the town does its best to ensure that they are best treated.

The Housing Trust has pledged over $500,000.00 towards new senior housing to be built behind Eaton Place off Panther Way. A new building there will need State and Federal funding, which during the building of Eaton Place took over five years to get completed. Although the Housing Trust has additional funding we are holding off purchasing more homes for resale to affordable buyers until we are sure the funding set aside for these new senior housings is sufficient.

I have been involved with the Friends of the Franklin Elders since the beginning. I had gotten a mailing when I got out of Law School and I thought, how wonderful, they want me. Little did I know at the time, they sent out hundreds of notices looking for people to volunteer. I helped the Friends of Franklin Elders obtain their 501c(3) rating, and the Friends organization has done very good work for the seniors. The Friends pay for the chef in the Senior Center kitchen, they pay for free coffee, they pay for entertainment. Now they are being asked to help with transportation for the trips that the Senior Center arranges. The bus the Senior Center had is no longer available. This is up for consideration at the September meeting of the Friends.

I was on both of the Senior Center Building Committees. Please note that the building committee members on both committees also shopped at commodity markets and used furniture stores for fixtures, lamps, pictures, etc. to find good bargains and to save construction funds. The commodities market in Wrentham provided some fine stuff to save money.

Now I am on the Library Building Committee. This is the only project that I really wanted to run. Tom Mercer, has done a wonderful job on all his building committees, but I wanted this one. It has been an education in and of itself. The building was originally done in 1903-1904 and was a gift to the Town. Everything we have touched, we have found needs to be fixed. We are in the final stretch. We have had four tentative opening dates but with the meeting Friday, we should have an official Grand Opening date (November 5).

We have utilized some of the furniture that has been in the library for the new section. There was a desk style credenza, we’ll turn it around and use it in the memorial hall. There will be rocking chairs, and chairs with reading lamps on tables. It will be a wonderful place for people to meet and utilize all the services of the library.

In the first-floor children’s area will have a window wall with couches and seating for the kids to sit and read. Looking outside from the children’s area or the window wall on the second floor, one will think that they are in a tree house. The second floor will also be reading space for the adults. In the winter time, the window wall faces west, when the sun comes in it will be lovely.

The Friends of the Franklin Library has sold over 400 bricks to date. The first 200 have gone into the new patio. As the engraved bricks arrive they are put into the patio. The late orders will be put into the patio in the spring.

The front sidewalk was not something that was on our agenda. It is going to be fantastic. We ended up with some pieces of the pink granite from the building that was not going to be used. This Pink granite comes from Milford quarry and is no longer mined. We had all this pink granite left so what we’re going to do is line the sidewalk with the pieces. When you come down the front steps, there used to be a concrete pad to the sidewalk. Now it will be a pink granite pad. We’ll be able to use the leftover pink granite as an edge on both sides of the new sidewalk all the way down to Mail Street.

Downstairs, the wall between the original library and the old children’s room, we are keeping the original rock wall and granite foundation exposed. The pink granite is on the top and the original foundation rock wall is the bottom of this saved wall.

We are receiving a museum quality display case for the Benjamin Franklin books. It will be good to see them on display when you come in. This case will be hermetically sealed and humidity controlled with special lighting. This wonderful case is being funded thru the Franklin Library Association.

Franklin Matters: What do you see as your role’s biggest challenge and do you have any suggestions on how we can resolve it?

Pfeffer: There are many things in the town that we need to take care of that we don’t have enough money to do. I am afraid that the OPEB, which we give over half a million dollars a year towards, that we’ll never catch up. And we can’t afford to give more than that. Many communities in MA cannot provide the level of funding that Franklin provides. I do not think that we will catch up. Most towns are looking to the state to step in and there are changes which need to be made.

We take in about $500,000 from the hotel/motel tax and have used it mostly for open space needs. In FY 2019, we may need to use it elsewhere. We don’t ever want to use that for operations but sometimes one does not have a choice.

The more economic development to bring businesses to town the better off we’ll be. We push and talk about economic development all the time. We do have empty spaces in the industrial parks. The money from the businesses helps with the costs for the citizens while not causing a burden on the town’s infrastructure, nor on the school system. We are well situated. Not far from Boston, two entrances to i495, two train stations, college in town. Unfortunately, all of those things entice residential development more than commercial.

Franklin Matters: One question came in after we talked and if you’d like to answer it that would be good. "As you know, Franklin has applied to the state for an official Cultural District designation in town. What do you feel is the role of arts and culture in Franklin, and what is your plan to advance that agenda?

Pfeffer: Franklin is situated and contains all the features of a community with cultural components. We have a Performing Arts center, we have a college, we have two train stations, two exits to 495, we are located half-way between Boston and Providence. We have a plethora of activities in the arts, we have a very active art association, we have music studios, we have dance studios, we have movies shown at the town beach in the summer, we have music nights on the town common during the summer months. Our Downtown Partnership is extremely active in seasonal activities and in downtown activities. The Town Council has worked closely with and has allocated our town planner to work with the Cultural Group to get this designation forwarded.

Franklin Matters: Would you like to add a closing statement?

Pfeffer: I have done my best. I have made decisions that I believed were the best decisions for the whole town. I would like one more term, if possible. I would like to finish up the library, want to ensure that the seniors are adequately taken care of, that adequate funding is in place for the police, fire, DPW, town municipal side, and the schools, and the library.

Offer to Candidates 2017

Interview with Judy from 2013

Interview with July from 2009

Noteworthy: This information is intended to help the Franklin voters when we all head to the ballot box on November 7. The interview candidates have had an opportunity to review the text before publishing to ensure the accuracy of our discussion. 

Franklin Election Collection - 2017
Franklin Election Collection - 2017

No comments:

Post a Comment