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Could Town Seek Money for High School Delays?

Several readers have asked what the town could potentially do to regain money from a possible increased cost due to the high school appeals.

It's one of the most commonly asked questions by supporters of a new Wilmington High School who are eager for construction to start but are instead left waiting for the appeals process to conclude.

Who is going to pay for the cost of the delays?

"I was going to ask if the town has any recourse against (the appellants)," one Wilmington Patch commenter asked. "Anyone know if the town is considering this? Can we as town tax payers file our own suit?"

The answer to this point in the process is no, according to Board of Selectmen chairman Mike Newhouse.

"One of the many problems with the existing regulations is that the Department of Environmental Protection Hearings Officer, unlike a judge in a court of law, does not have the authority to award attorney’s fees and costs to penalize a party for making frivolous claims and/or motions," said Newhouse. "The Hearings Officer in this case did a fine job of using the tools available to him, in order to render a timely and impartial decision, but the regulations need to be changed so that more tools are available to him."

Though Newhouse said there is no legal action currently in the works to regain the money from the delays, he said the town continues to keep its options open. 

"Throughout the past several months the Town has considered and will continue to consider each and every procedural, financial and legal option available," said Newhouse.

webmom November 16, 2012 at 05:48 PM
I think the town may/may has it's own considerations, but I also believe that individuals have their own recourse. Small claims court. Once the final costs are submitted, any overages that are going to be paid by individual taxpayers can be attempted to be recouped by those individuals in small claims court. That is always an available option. 50, 60, 100 or more individuals suing for $100 or $200 each, or whatever it comes out to be. Just a thought.
George Lingenfelter November 19, 2012 at 02:57 PM
The Town claims that the delay for the wetlands appeals will cost about $3,000,000. I believe this figure to be high, but let's go with it for now. Estimated cost to clean up the petroleum contaminated soil beneath the existing building $1,000,000. It seems to me that the Town could have agreed to clean up the oil, saved $2,000,000 and had a clean environment. Oh wait, the oil can't be cleaned up because the application to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) did not include extensive soil remediation.
George Lingenfelter November 19, 2012 at 02:58 PM
It is my understanding that since the proposed budget for the new WHS presented to the MSBA did not include remediation, the Town cannot now move forward with remediation without voiding the current application for matching funding/reimbursement from the MSBA. If true, this would appear to be a case of fraud by the Town of Wilmington against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the residents of the Town of Wilmington. In my opinion, Mike Ciara and Mike Newhouse played the Board of Selectmen, the School Committee, and the High School Building Committee like a fiddle.
George Lingenfelter November 19, 2012 at 02:58 PM
In my opinion the changed site conditions (after demolition when contamination will be at a depth of 6 feet) will result in the migration of petroleum contamination in groundwater. If/when that does occur at some time in the future, the Town will be required to remove the newly constructed paved parking areas and subsurface utilities, remediate the contamination, and then re-install the parking areas and utilities. How much will that cost? By removing the contamination before the construction of the new paved parking areas and subsurface utilities the Town will save a significant amount of money.

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