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Select Board approves funding for senior center upgrades, one-time holiday for town employees


WESTFORD — With a slew of funding approvals on the table, the Select Board authorized a round of funding for various projects within town. 

$2,026,790 in American Rescue Plan Act funding was requested for projects such as an additional holiday for town employees and an upgrade to the Cameron Senior Center’s HVAC system. A total of $829,289 was approved in an April 26 meeting.

Partial funding for new HVAC system at Senior Center

$500,000 in ARPA funding was allocated to HVAC upgrades within the Cameron Senior Center. This is $1.1 million short of what was requested for upgrades to the center.

“If you look at it from a lifetime perspective we will gain back the initial investment,” said select Board Chair Andrea Peraner-Sweet. “We can’t fund this completely with $1.6 million from ARPA because we don’t have that.”

Director of Facilities Paul Fox Jr. outlined the benefits of the upgraded HVAC system.

“We proposed a baseline solution and an intermediate solution, which was not going to pan out to enough benefits and cost slightly less than the best solution,” said Fox. “That best proposed solution is getting us a fantastic four-pipe system that will have the ability to dehumidify any area, as well as provide cooling and heating at any area at any time.”

He continued, “Additionally, we are trying to salvage the boiler system whenever possible during the coldest parts of the winter. That system will be existing for another 15 to 20 years, so we’re greatly extending life there.”

Fox notes that the upgrade will place the center on a fully electric system, which he says is “truly in line” with the Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050 Roadmap.

The board has not yet approved the remaining $1.1 million in funding requested for the project, but the approved funding will “help us through 20 years,” according to Town Manager Jodi Ross.

One-time holiday approved for town employees 

The Westford Police Department, Public Safety Communications Department and Public Works Association petitioned the Select Board to approve emergency hazard pay for employees.

“The Select Board fully considered and discussed what the town could afford to do and what the town can do, and what other communities have done around us,” said Peraner-Sweet.

The Select Board ultimately rejected an emergency pay proposal, instead voting unanimously to approve $21,059 in funding for an additional holiday for town employees. 

“We feel if we provided premium pay, it would need to be for all of our town and school employees and not just certain groups,” read a statement from the Select Board. “We want to recognize and thank our town employees for rising to the challenges that were presented to them and that continue to be presented to them by granting our town employees a compensatory day off as a gesture of appreciation.”

After-school and summer camp access for low income families approved

The board unanimously voted to allocate $30,000 to provide access to after-school care and summer camps for low income families.

“A lot of families are really struggling with being able to afford summer camp and after-school program,” said Council on Aging Director Jennifer Claro. “Being able to provide this type of resource to families would also help the children’s mental health and provide a structured environment.”

Board approves additional projects

A rendering of the proposed design for the new municipal building at 51 Main St. (Photo/via Town of Westford)

A new municipal building will be housed at the former fire station at 51 Main St. The Select Board approved $92,000 for a sustainability and energy efficiency proposal after supporting the proposal at an April 12 meeting. 

The board unanimously voted to reimburse Westford Public Schools $67,070 for an increase in the daily rate for substitutes. The daily rate was temporarily raised from $80 to $100 to attract more substitutes for the current school year.

The rate was originally set to expire on June 30, but the rate will permanently be raised on July 1 from $80 to $90 according to Superintendent of Schools Christopher Chew.

The board unanimously voted to approve $50,385 for a design plan for Nabnasset walkway and car path, citing safety concerns.

“The most time sensitive is the substitute pay because that impacts FY22,” Chew said. “But also moving forward with ideas that could fix the traffic situation at Nabnasset.”

The board also voted to approve $10,880 in funding toward safety care in Westford Public Schools. The training would aid with crisis prevention and preventing behavioral challenges among students. 

The board also voted 4-1 to allocate $57,895 to purchase an electric vehicle for the Westford Police Department. Anita Tonakarn-Nguyen voted against the proposal. 

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Ben Domaingue
Ben Domainguehttps://www.clippings.me/bendomaingue
Ben Domaingue has previously worked at newspapers in New Hampshire and is the Managing Editor covering Westford. He’s passionate about community journalism, photography and hiking. Email him at bdomaingue@westfordcat.org.