HomeWeekend Wrap-UpWorkforce Housing on Boston Road, Question 3 Recount: Weekend Wrap-Up

Workforce Housing on Boston Road, Question 3 Recount: Weekend Wrap-Up


Subscribe to our mailing list and consider following WestfordCAT on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for daily updates from Westford's hometown source for news. 

WESTFORD — Welcome to the May 28 edition of Weekend Wrap-Up. Here, we highlight the most important news you may have missed this week in Westford. Don’t forget — our weekly news show will be included in the Weekend Wrap-Up going forward.

Additionally, WestfordCAT now distributes printed news flyers to the Cameron Senior Center, Town Hall, Roudenbush Community Center, Mario’s, Paul’s Diner and the J.V. Fletcher Library. Flyers are updated every Wednesday.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution wins after recount

After an official recount of the measure, Question 3 has once again passed by a narrow majority.

The question, which asked whether the Town of Westford should observe the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, superseding local references to Columbus Day, originally won by 15 votes during the May 2 Annual Town Election.

1,068 residents originally voted in favor of the resolution during the election, while 1,053 residents voted against the resolution.

After the May 24 recount, the measure once again passed by a 15-vote margin. However, during the recount, officials recorded 1,065 votes in favor of the measure and 1,050 votes against the measure.

A number of current and former members of the School Committee, including Chair Chris Sanders, Vice Chair Valery Young, and former member Gloria Miller served as observers in favor of the resolution. Select Board Chair Tom Clay and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Chair Joe Diamond also served as observers in favor of the question.

Additional officials, including Finance Committee Clerk Dennis Galvin and committee member Heather Fitzpatrick, served as observers in opposition of the resolution.

Close result remains

First Middlesex Republican State Committeewoman Kathy Lynch, who also served as an observer in opposition to the resolution, thanked town staff for their work on the recount process.

“I just want to thank the Town of Westford and all of the staff for today,” Lynch said. “This was a great opportunity to see how the process works in Westford, especially since we have new machines.”

She added, “It was a very close vote, it was still pretty much tied. We were able to take a very close look together.”

A lead petitioner for the recount, Anthony DiLeo, noted the process was “eye-opening.”

“I think the final outcome is what it is. I didn’t expect a major change,” DiLeo told WestfordCAT. “It really reflects what’s been shown over the last three years, that the town is split on this.”

The question is a nonbinding public opinion advisory question. Though results remain unchanged, advocates for Columbus Day could petition the Select Board to maintain the status quo.

Auditing the cost, final ballot totals 

Town Clerk Patty Dubey noted that though there is a cost to the recount, she was unable to provide an exact figure at the time of reporting.

“I don’t know,” she told WestfordCAT. “It [legal counsel] won’t come out of my budget to pay Town Counsel. I’ll have to pay Cory [police detail] and some of the workers do like to be paid and I want to pay them.”

She added, “the most expensive part was legal counsel, which you need [for the process.]”

Workforce housing planned for 70 Boston Rd. property

A new affordable housing development is planned for the former Coldwell Banker office building at 70 Boston Rd.

The Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously approved a special permit and use variance for the project during a May 17 hearing.

“What we hope to do is partner with the town and partner with other organizations to create apartments at 70 Boston Rd,” Ellen Harde said. “Specifically, apartments that will be affordable in the town of Westford.”

The property was originally built as a two-family house prior to 1865. It remained a two-family house until the 1990s and early 2000s, when the Zoning Board of Appeals allowed an existing real estate office to use the entire building.

Harde says there will be no new construction on the site. The apartments will occupy the existing farmhouse and barn.

“Our goal is to provide apartments with monthly rents that are well below the going market rate,” she said.

The project will create up to seven apartments on the property. Five of the units will be workforce rental units, while the interior space of two units is planned to be sold to Habitat for Humanity.

Harde says she is following a framework developed by Habitat for Humanity and the Concord Housing Authority, where the property has dual ownership between both organizations.

“This is still being worked out, but the prototype we’re using is what they’re doing with the Concord Housing Authority,” she said. “They are ‘condominiumizing’ one house with another group of houses from the Concord Housing Authority.”

She continued, “Habitat will own one, CHA will own the others. [So for 70 Boston Rd.] we will simply sell the interior space in the barn, but our LLC will still own the property and the other five apartments.”

Westford Food Pantry seeks donations, community support this summer

The Westford Food Pantry is seeking community support and donations ahead of this summer.

“We’re trying to draw people’s attention [ahead of the summer] when families won’t get that support from schools and food drives,” Tim Baker, president of the Westford Food Pantry told WestfordCAT.

He added, “we try to focus on the kids in the summer because maybe they’re not getting those school lunch programs. We’re looking to fill those gaps for them.”

Want to help?

A number of canned items, such as stew, beans, potatoes, jelly, peanut butter, soup and tomato sauce are in need.

Additional dry goods, condiments and personal care items such as cereals, sugar, flour, toothpaste, shampoo and deodorants are in need. A full list of items in need can be found on the Westford Food Pantry Website. 

The pantry is also seeking snack bags, juice boxes and child-friendly items for the summer.

Donations can be dropped off at the Cameron Senior Center Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Wednesday evenings from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Donations can also be left in collection boxes at Market Basket, Roudenbush Community Center and the Village at Stone Ridge.

Individuals can also send tax-deductible donations to the food pantry directly through PayPal by check addressed to the Westford Food Pantry at 20 Pleasant St. Westford, MA 01886.

Need help?

Residents in need can register in person during distribution hours from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Fridays.

Westford residents are eligible to receive an order once per week. Non-residents from Chelmsford, Lowell, Billerica, Dracut, Groton and Tyngsborough are eligible to receive an order every other week, no more than twice per month.

“They can just show up. We’re a needs-based pantry,” said Baker. “We’ll just need your driver’s license and name. If you need help, come see us.”

GoFundMe, fundraisers to benefit family of Zachary Lavoignet

A GoFundMe has been posted in memory of a young Westford resident who recently passed away.

Zachary Lavoignet was born on Jan 1, 2005 and passed suddenly on May 23. He was a member of Westford Academy’s Class of 2023.

According to their GoFundMe page, the mothers of Zach’s friends are raising money to support “their transition into a life without their loved one.”

$10,346 of the $20,000 goal has been raised at the time of reporting.

Additionally, Westford Remembers is accepting donations to help cover the costs of the funeral. Donations can be sent on Venmo to @westford-remembers or by check to P.O. Box 869 in Westford.

A memorial service will be held on May 31 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the J.A. Healy and Sons Funeral Home at 57 North Main St. in Westford.

Westford Academy senior leaves behind legacy of advocacy for student representation

As a Westford Academy senior pivots towards graduation and college, he leaves behind a legacy of student advocacy and student involvement in local policy.

What is the Student Union?

Senior Eric Plankey has been involved in student advocacy at Westford Academy, most notably as the founder of The Student Union of Massachusetts and the Westford Academy Student Senate.

The Student Union is “a coalition of student leaders looking to move beyond mere discussion and truly make waves in education reform,” according to the group’s website.  The group works to increase student representation and participation in local policy.

“The Student Union, that coalition of student senates across the state allows us to share ideas. That gives us a lot of our power,” he said.

The organization supports the formation of student senates in high schools across Massachusetts, which are defined as “permanent, democratic, and legislative bodies made up of students, parents, teachers, and administration; focused on bringing students directly into discussions of educational policy.”

Plankey became involved in student advocacy after observing budget cuts and teacher layoffs in the WA Latin Department during his freshman year. Seeing students organize to support WA faculty opened Plankey’s eyes to “the power that students have when they collectively organize.”

The Student Union is a fully student-run organization. So far, it has helped to create student senates in towns such as Brookline and Westwood, among others. Westford is included on this list, although Plankey and his members noted that they “[were] fighting for it here [at WA] for about a year.”

In addition to the Student Union, Plankey serves as a student representative for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. He has also served on the State Student Advisory Board in a variety of roles since December 2020.

Working with these groups Plankey says he hopes to reduce what he feels are inequities in public schools.

Implementing changes to MCAS, how Chapter 70 funding is allocated and accessibility to vocational and technical schools are just a few issues Plankey hopes to advocate for. He believes these issues are “the root of a lot of issues we see in the state.”

Plankey to continue advocacy through college 

As he approaches the end of high school, Plankey plans to step back from education reform. After graduation, Plankey will attend Cornell University in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations with a concentration in international policy and a minor in fine arts.

He hopes to continue to work in labor relations throughout college and beyond.

“It’s [Cornell University] perfect,” Plankey said. “I want to work with unions for the rest of my life…being a lawyer or a teacher.”

WestfordCAT News

Support WestfordCAT News

Local journalism is vital to our communities. As other publications shift focus toward regional journalism, WestfordCAT continues to provide high-quality hyperlocal reporting to our town, free for everyone to read. So  we have a small favor to ask. Every contribution, no matter how big or small, helps us sustain our journalism and keep our community informed. Please consider supporting WestfordCAT by donating online.

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.

Upcoming Events