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Residents and Officials Discuss School, Latest Appeal

About 50 residents filled Town Hall auditorium during Monday meeting to discuss the high school project and appeal.

A group of about 50 residents was in attendance on Tuesday night as the Board of Selectmen and School Committee held a with representatives from various groups involved in the planning process of the new high school.

During the session, officials discussed the . Stuart Lesser of Joslin Lesser and Associates told residents about how the current appeal and potential further appeals could impact the project timeline.

Lesser said if the DEP sides with the town and the residents appeal that decision, an adjudicatory hearing is the next step. If the appellants choose that route, Lesser said there could be a cost impact of at least $3 million and a delay of about a year is likely.

“I’m disheartened and disenchanted that we’ve received this road block that we need to overcome,” said selectman Judy O’Connell. “I want to keep everything in a positive tone. We’re here for the benefit of the children and faculty and staff of the school to ensure that Wilmington continues to be a great place to live.”

Suzanne Sullivan and Martha Stevenson, both members of the Headwaters Stream Team who are a part of the high school appeal, were unable to attend Monday’s joint meeting because they were at an appointment regarding the Olin Superfund site.

However, Sullivan said in an e-mail to Patch, “I am encouraged that issues will be resolved.”

George Lingenfelter, the spokesman for the group of appellants, was in attendance for the beginning of the Board of Selectmen meeting, but left before the public comments section of the joint session and did not comment on the appeal.

Appealing resident Michael Bodnar said during Monday’s meeting that when he agreed to join the appeal, he did not intend to hold up the construction timeline.

“I did not want to stop this project. It will go through. But I’m concerned with the oil remediation,” said Bodnar. “More needs to be studied about the future parking lot site, the drainage, etc. I guess that’s why I’m here.”

Lesser said he believes the town has satisfied all of the requirements to assure that the will have no impact on the plans.

“As eager as we are in our desire to move forward with the schedule, I don’t believe anyone on this team would want to move forward if we were at risk,” said Lesser. “If there was a sense that we were at risk, we would take a step back.”

Following the discussion, asked Bodnar point blank if he would consider removing himself from a potential second appeal that could come down the road. Bodnar said he could not commit to changing his position on the appeal.

Resident Karl Sagal said he was one of the 31 residents who opposed the school during the Special Town Meeting. Though Sagal said he stands by that vote, he added that he believes it is time for the project to move forward.

“I’m proud that I voted the way I did, but I recognize the way we’re going. Now let’s go there,” said Sagal. “The fence sitting is over. It’s time to move on. Whether there are appeals or not, we are moving in this direction. My sincere hope is that the DEP finds this project is sound.”

There were several moments during the meeting when residents in attendance spoke out, and there were multiple cases when the majority of the crowd provided a round of applause when a speaker finished a point in favor of the school.

One of those ovations came following an exchange between Bodnar and Finance Committee member Dick Hayden, who was among the residents in the crowd.

“I said to (Hayden) after the school passed at the election that you guys won fair and square,” said Bodnar.

From his seat, Hayden responded, “So how come we’re still fighting?”

Selectman Mike Champoux said that on both sides of the argument, emotions are high.

“This is an emotional issue,” said Champoux. “We’ve been following this process for a few years. Some of this appeals process has been a difficult pill to swallow for those of us who were so excited when the vote was approved at Town Meeting.”

Kevin MacDonald June 12, 2012 at 12:48 PM
It is important for the community to know that only 10 names are needed for an appeal according to the DEP criteria for an appeal. If I was asked before they had the required amount of signatures then my name would be on the appeal. Many more people would be on the appeal also. This project is a full blown shafting of the community. I would suggest that people start to think seriously about a recall election for the entire board of selectmen. The sky is not the limit for spending for this disaster. Who in their right mind goes ahead with supporting a project without knowing the cost of cleaning up this massive oil spill? Who in their right mind spends the amount of money that has been spent when they know there is a major problem with oil contamination? Who in their right mind designs a drainage system with water going into an oil contamination area? What kind of leadership limits the Town from the best possible bids by going with a construction manager at risk method where only invited contractors are asked for proposals for site contracting? I believe there are more than 5 contractors that can do site work. The AUL (activity and use limitation area) is 73,000 sq. ft.. This huge area is 1.67 acres and is larger than most people's lots. It is time to stop the financial bleeding on this site for this disastrous proposal.
Joe m June 12, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Wah wah wah.
Amanda June 12, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Kevin, do you really need to make the SAME comment twice on 2 different articles? No matter how many times you post it, no one is going to care. You might want to find another place to complain because complaining on here isn't doing much for you or your "concerns".
Daniel June 12, 2012 at 02:39 PM
After listening to the town environmental and site professionals last night I am comfortable that there is no basis to any appeal of this project. On the other hand, I am very angry hearing town counsel and the project representatives outline the enormous construction costs and delay that would be suffered by the pursuit of continual meritless appeals by a handful of troublemakers. It is truly a sin that 13 (is it still 13?? I can't tell) individuals can cost us taxpayers millions of dollars and delay the opening of our childrens' beautiful school for a year or more for the cost of a $200.00 appeal filing fee. Let's see, $200.00 divided by 13...hmmm...so essentially each of these people caused this damage to us for the cost of a bucket of extra crispy at KFC or an eight pack of Irish Spring soap.
One of 1,426 June 12, 2012 at 02:59 PM
OK..OK.. lets recap the meeting. The head appellant left right before the meeting was open to public comment. Another resident that signed the appeal basically said he did not know what he signed but would continue the appeal process even when the town comes out on top of this appeal, make no mistake about it, this master craftsman will fight this project to the end, whatever the cost to the town, he knows exactly what he is doing. Kevin was well... Kevin. As I sat and watched the meeting at home"3 bags of popcorn" I was proud of both boards and the residents that were there to speak in favor of the new school. On another note, why are the Patch and the Crier the only media outlets that have covered this project since the beginning responsibly and have covered both sides. The Lowell sun who just the day before published such a biased article "Wilmington--still reeling from two other appeals" did not even send a reporter to cover a meeting that was scheduled to get an update and give the residents who appealed the project a chance to get their questions answered. The Lowell Sun never has anything good tsai about Wilmington. This whole appeal reminds me of an old 70's sitcom... I think it was called The Chicken Man and Mr. Stinky..
Erika J. June 12, 2012 at 04:30 PM
It is such a shame that 13 people are ruining it for the majority. I believe the vote back in December showed what the town wants. Now we have 13 people who need to get over it, and stop wasting valuable time and money for the rest of the town. Also, I found it interesting that there were only a few of those 13 who actually showed up last night. It's awfully easy to hide behind a piece of paper, but when invited to peacefully discuss and hopefully clear things up, they don't show. Huh.
Steve H June 12, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Kevin. After attending the meeting, and listening to people state their views, it sounds like you are on island all alone. Time to give it a rest, nobody cares or wants your opinions anymore. You are a blatant waste of time and all you want to do is be a thorn in the everyones side. You constantly state "we", you should be saying "I" or "me", you have no we, nobody wants to associate themselves with you on any issue. Doesn't that tell you something. Stop standing in the way of our childrens future, yes, a building doesnt educate students, teachers do. But a new modern building can help these teacher accomplish their goals, easier than an old building.
Steve H June 13, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Key phrase if you were asked, you don't get it, they didn't ask you, because they didn't want to be associated with you. The only thing that is a full blown shafting to the town is you with your constant complaining, always asking the same questions when you get an answer. Kevin you can suggest a recall election, and the five that are there will win everytime. There is a reason they get elected and you got a 300 plus votes. They a competant at their jobs, u are not. Kevin if you are so intelligent and informed on all these matters, why are you home sitting on your couch and not out working, with all this knowledge you claim to have, you would think you would be in huge demand in this job market.
Kevin MacDonald June 13, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Erika, Valuable money is wasted when people are denying a major oil spill that is still in the ground. The spill is contained and capped with the school and pavement. When it is knocked down it becomes uncapped. When idiots drain water into the area where the oil is it becomes uncontained. The cost becomes uncontained and the disaster is realized. Massive cost overruns will happen. There is a better way. It should not be about enriching the bond issuers.
ECJ June 13, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Kevin for a so called smart man, You have no clue as to what is happening around you. I have high confidence in the Engineering firms working on this project. They know what they have to do. As for you Iam not sure where you fit in even the island of misfits would not accept you.
Joe DuCharme June 13, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Joe D Kevin, I have lived in our town for almost forty years and I have never once voice out loud my opinion about people viewing issues differently than I view them. But enough is enough!!! If the Town of Wilmington had done everything you had ask them to do over the last 10 years, you still would have found something to complain about. There is nothing about our town you like. "WHY DO YOU LIVE HERE" Let's see, you certainly don't like our Police and Fire Departments. Apparently you have never needed them or you have changed your mind a long ago. I know you have no use for our Town Manager, all he has done is keep this town with a surplus, while every town around us is suffering financially. Thank you Michael for your efforts! You whine about our taxes, but this the way our country is run. From the federal goverment all the way down to our little town. You have absolutely no use for any of our town boards. Now you want a recall of the entire Board of Selectmen. If you had won a seat, you could have called for the recall of the other 4!!! I can only speak for myself, but from my point of view, you waste more of the towns time & money than the rest of us "TAX PAYERS" combined.That is why as a town we vote on issues that pertain to all us. The town has spoken as a majority on the building of a new high school. Get over it, life is to short. The children of this town deserve the spotlight, not you! Do the right thing for our kids, support the new high school.
Steve H June 13, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Well said, but he actually did need the fire department, when he caught himself on fire. He doesn't like them, because they pulled his blasting license.
Kevin MacDonald June 14, 2012 at 02:27 AM
If it will help it sink in.
Kevin MacDonald June 14, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Extra crispy Foghorn Leghorn !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Even an eighteen wheeler load of Irish Spring couldn't wash away all the oil at the H.S.
Kevin MacDonald June 14, 2012 at 03:05 AM
You do the right thing for the kids and find another site that is not a financial disaster. It is too bad you can not accept the truth for what it is: real oil contamination in a massive quantity that is now capped and contained that is about to have water drainage dumped into it with this disaster proposal. Do you praise someone for a process set up where only invited site contractors can bid on a public job? Is a majority of 14,000 registered voters 1,400? The Town is incorporated as a nonprofit corporation- Think about it !!!! http://www.sonyclassics.com/insidejob/
Linda June 14, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Well said J.D. Just to clarify my tar & feathering coment, it was indeed a joke I tend to use my sense of humour to difuse a stressful situation. Lesson learned

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