Stow News Briefs

A compilation of news items from around town, including the postponement of a Gun Safety Forum, New regulations for dog walkers at Stow Town Forest, Board of Selectmen meeting, a proposed land gift to the town and an update on the progress of the Delaney St. solar field. 

By Nancy Arsenault

Stow’s Gun Safety Forum scheduled for tonight, Wednesday night, has been postponed to the fall, according to organizers from the Stow Democratic Town Committee. Police Chief Bill Bosworth advised the group against moving forward with the event as scheduled, though he did not prohibit it.  “It was their choice, but I had a legitimate public safety concern around it. The venue (Town Hall)  is too small, there is no parking, and no place for protestors. I know it’s a private event, but the gun advocates have a right to show up, and they will,” he said.

Bosworth referenced a growing buzz about the event on the internet within gun advocacy groups as well as strong opinions about the make-up of the panel gaining a loud voice in town over the past several days. “I expect there would have been many, many protesters,” said Bosworth, explaining that the one detail officer assigned to the event and paid for by the group would not be enough to keep things under control.

Bosworth instead would prefer a larger auditorium site, increased police presence to ensure public safety, parking for expected television news vans along with plenty of accessible public parking that would not require attendees to cross Rt. 117 as rush hour traffic is speeding through town. “Hale would be a much better venue, or the best would be the high school,” advised Bosworth.  Prior to the event being postponed, Selectman  Jim Salvie had removed himself as Moderator of the panel discussion and Bosworth had also said he was not going to participate as a panel spokesperson, as had been earlier advertised.  Both cited public safety issues as their main concerns.

New Dog Regulations at Town Forest
Dog walkers and their dogs are still welcome at the Gardner Hill Conservation Land/Town Forest, but must adhere to new and specific regulations pertaining to the pets. Pat Perry of the Conservation Commission said her board responded to complaints from residents and also to situations involving the Animal Control Officer at the forest, and created expanded regulations, entitled Dog Activities and Uses, to make the property more dog and human friendly.

While dogs are not required to be leashed at all times, walkers must have a leash with them and be prepared to control their dogs with restraint if voice commands cannot keep it beside the owner when  dogs, people or horses  approach on the paths.

Dogs must remain in owner’s sight at all times which means, no more letting dogs free to run at will. Owners may only walk two dogs at a time. Professional dog walkers, those who are paid to walk dogs owned by others, are prohibited from town conservation property. Walkers must carry a leash for each dog in their care.  Perry feels if these regulations are adhered to, the need to make the conservation land a leashed property will not be necessary.

Board of Selectmen Reorganize
The Stow Board of Selectmen elected Don Hawkes as Chairman and Gary Bernklow as Clerk in their newly reorganized form after the Town Elections.  The agenda for the first official meeting of the new Board, which included Tom Ryan and re-elected members Jim Salvie and Charlie Kern, had a fairly light agenda on Tuesday night.

One order of business was the approval of a written policy regarding police officers within the category of Special Officer. This will allow retired Stow police officers, who retired at a high rank, to be listed higher on the call list for open shifts and detail work, than other non-union Special Police Officers.

The call list for overtime will continue to first call up current full time officers and dispatchers, and then  if situations exist where those employees are not available, these higher ranked retirees will be called before other non-union officers on the list. This will directly affect recent retirees Chief Mark Trefry  and Detective Steve Sturtevant. “I believe that this preferential treatment is justified in consideration for the decades of dedicated work that they gave to Stow,” said Town Administrator Bill Wrigley.

The town has also started the process of purchasing 323 Great Road, as directed by the Town Meeting vote last week. Wrigley reported that negotiations regarding land swaps with the churches will begin in earnest to create frontage access points for the property. He also said that the Fire Station Building Committee will not be permitted to expend funds toward design development of a new station situated on the property until there is a Purchase and Sales Agreement on the land and a written agreement in principle with the authorized agents of the churches regarding needed road access.

Wrigley and the Board continue to urge voters to come to the polls on June 25th and vote the funding of the Great Road land purchase as a debt exclusion – a scenario that the Board and Town Administrator feel is the least detrimental to the long term solvency of the town.

A Gift of Land
The Planning Board issued a notice to other town departments that Stow Acres is considering gifting 53 acres of land to the Town of Stow. Walter Lankau, owner of the golf course, came into the Planning Board, carrying his tax bill, making the verbal offer to the Town. Planning Coordinator Karen Kelleher said nothing is official until Lankau puts the offer in writing, but in the meantime, she circulated the information to the Conservation Commission and the Selectmen to gauge their interest. “It really is all wetlands, “ she said. A quick glance at the topography maps does not indicate any buildable upland, nor any frontage. “As wetlands, it is unbuildable, and really seems to be protected from development without the town having to accept it,”  surmised Kelleher.

Solar Getting Closer
The solar farm project is getting closer to breaking ground on Delaney Street. A meeting this week will review current plans and approve a sidewalk easement zone. “If their escrow account is all set, they should be able to break ground soon,” said the Planning Board’s Kelleher.