HomePickleball NewsUSA Pickleball NewsPickleball Takes Center Stage at Wilbraham Town Meeting

Pickleball Takes Center Stage at Wilbraham Town Meeting

Pickleball Takes Center Stage: In a two-hour Town Meeting, the community moved efficiently through a 57-article warrant, tackling significant issues such as the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District (HWRSD) budget, funding for a new fire engine, and various local concerns ranging from drinking water to pickleball courts.

Moderator Jane Clark guided the assembly through Articles 1-15, addressing annual and non-compensated elected offices, financial transfers, and solid and wastewater expenses. These items received approval through the first of two consent agenda motions, with two articles passing without action or vote.

Kevin Hanks, Finance Committee Chair, provided an overview of the fiscal year 2025 budget, which totaled $52.5 million. This budget included capital expenditures and operating expenses, as well as an increased HWRSD assessment approved in late May. Key capital projects funded by free cash included $110,000 for a new roof at Memorial School, $248,000 for Highway Department vehicles, $68,850 for IT systems, and $46,000 for tasers for the Police Department. Additionally, $181,721 was allocated for wireless access points at Minnechaug Regional High School, and $135,000 for upgrades to the town’s CCTV system.

HWRSD Superintendent John Provost and Assistant Superintendent Aaron Osborne explained that Wilbraham’s assessment accounts for 56% of the district’s budget. “We literally could not achieve our educational mission without your ongoing support,” Provost expressed, thanking the attendees for approving the budget.

A proposal to appropriate or borrow $984,000 for a new fire engine and $250,000 for the Wilbraham Drinking Water Asset Management Plan Project passed easily. The water project, part of a state revolving fund, will see 60% of its cost reimbursed by MassDEP and the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust.

The meeting’s most debated issue was the $165,000 proposed for lighting and seating at Memorial School’s pickleball courts. The Finance Committee, voting 8-0 against it, citing concerns over the long-term plans for the Memorial School building. Southwood Drive resident John Hegerty supported the motion, emphasizing the necessity of lighting and seating for the pickleball community.

Despite Hegerty’s advocacy, concerns about electricity costs and the future of the school building dominated the discussion. Community Preservation Chair Tracey Plantier explained Article 97 of the state Constitution, which protects recreational property, adding complexity to any changes. After extensive debate, the motion failed, marking the evening’s only rejected article.

The second consent agenda covered Articles 43-56, proposing amendments to general bylaws, including fee and fine structures. Main Street resident Charles Clark opposed Article 46, which regulated ice cream truck vendors, citing potential congestion. Police Chief Ed Lennon explained the town’s obligation to permit the vendors but noted that local bylaws could impose additional constraints.

Pickleball Takes Center Stage at Wilbraham Town Meeting

Linda Lankowski of Tinkham Glen suggested increasing littering fines from $50 to deter violations. While a proposal for a $300 fine for litter over three cubic feet was approved, Lennon clarified the distinction between civil fines and state criminal violations for dumping.

The final article, a Home Rule Petition granting the town administrator authority to appoint and remove specific positions, passed by the majority before the meeting concluded.

News In Brief: Pickleball Takes Center Stage

At the Wilbraham Town Meeting, the community rapidly handled a 57-article warrant, addressing key issues like the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District (HWRSD) budget, a new fire engine, and local concerns. The $52.5 million FY2025 budget included capital projects such as school roof repairs and police tasers. The HWRSD assessment, crucial for the educational mission, was approved. Funding for a new fire engine and a drinking water project passed easily.

However, a $165,000 proposal for lighting and seating at Memorial School’s pickleball courts was rejected due to concerns over electricity costs and the school’s future. The meeting also covered amendments to general bylaws, including regulations for ice cream truck vendors and increased littering fines. A Home Rule Petition for town administrator authority was approved before the meeting concluded.

 

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