Editor’s note: The section for “Young adult author to speak at J.V. Fletcher Library” has had the “to” removed for clarity. Generally, headlines in the Wrap-Up remain the same as originally published, even if an event has already passed.
WESTFORD — Welcome to the Nov. 5 edition of Weekend Wrap-Up. Here, we highlight the most important news you may have missed this week in Westford.
Power Options Program contract renewed through 2025
The Westford Power Options Program contract has been renewed through November 2025.
If you are a member of the POP Silver or POP Gold programs, you will need to select a new program or be automatically put back into National Grid Basic Service.
Residents who are enrolled in the POP Basic or POP Green options do not have to take any action to remain in the program.
Residents who wish to purchase 100% renewable energy should enroll in POP Plus, which replaces POP Gold. The Town of Westford encourages residents to enroll in this option if they can afford to do so.
POP Silver has been made obsolete by state-mandated increases to renewables in the power supply.
Rates are set to increase by approximately 50% on some plans. The updated POP Standard plan will see its cost increase from $0.10793 per kilowatt hour to $0.16174 per kilowatt hour. The updated POP Gold plan will see rates increase from $0.13695 per kilowatt hour to $0.17282 per kilowatt hour.
The new POP Basic plan, which has no additional renewable energy credits, is $0.15748 per kilowatt hour, compared to National Grid’s current rates of $0.18213 per kilowatt hour.
These new rates are effective on Dec. 1, 2023.
Residents can leave Westford POP at any time without penalty. To confirm you are enrolled in the program, check your bill. Delivery services are from Constellation NewEnergy (WestfordPOP).
The Town of Westford recently received two state-issued grants for study and redevelopment of select parcels in Graniteville.
Gov. Maura Healey announced $164 million in grant awards for 161 communities on Oct. 25.
“One Stop is a vital economic development tool to spark growth, spur development, and strengthen local economies across the state. These funds will help make possible community-led projects that build vibrant downtowns and unlock economic potential in every region of Massachusetts while creating new jobs, housing, and opportunity,” Healey said in the announcement.
12 North Main St.
Westford received a $250,000 Brownfields Redevelopment Fund award to remediate and redevelop the abandoned mill property at 12 North Main St.
Discussions on the redevelopment of the site began in 2015 when a Task Force was formed to “evaluate potential reuse scenarios for the property” and “evaluate the potential options and make a recommendation to the town for plans that would benefit the community.”
An online survey was later conducted to residents on redevelopment options for the property, with options such as a town park, residential or commercial use, or an industrial use.
The Select Board later disbanded the Task Force in 2021, with remediation of the property ongoing.
In June the town received a $500,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to rehabilitate the property.
The town has already used a portion of $378,250 in Community Preservation Act funds to stabilize the building and begin remediation, as well as $305,000 in Mass Development funding to complete an environmental site assessment and perform hazardous material clean-up.
Housing Choice Grant
The town has also received a $190,000 grant from the Housing Choice Grant Program to explore off-site sewer options and to conduct a market study to assess redevelopment on select parcels in Graniteville.
Officials will soon seek proposals to hire a consultant to “analyze wastewater treatment challenges” and identify opportunities for properties in Graniteville to “accommodate development options.”
Earlier this summer, residents were invited to participate in a workshop to discuss redevelopment of the Graniteville neighborhood.
WestfordCAT reported on June 28 that a number of residents expressed frustration at the lack of walking space and the dust gathered from the mill, with Westford resident Bob Waskiewicz stating that “they [Graniteville] shouldn’t have to put up with that.”
He added that, “everybody who lives in that area knows what I’m talking about…Everybody’s breathing in that dust. Kids, asthmatics, people with health conditions, you name it…That’s a problem that needs to be cleaned up.”
Some, like Sustainability Coordinator Sue Thomas, suggested that the mill become a space for mixed-use development.
“It looks like it could be a really delightful spot for people to linger if we’re cleaning up for a coffee shop or a restaurant or some sort of walking space there,” she said.
For other parcels like Graniteville Materials, some residents in attendance supported renewable energy development on the southern portion of the parcel, with the northern space remaining open for a potential trail system.
Westford-based young adult author Marcella Pixley will speak on her latest book, Trowbridge Road, at the J.V. Fletcher Library this Thursday.
Her book was a Junior Library Gold Standard selection, longlisted for the 2020 Massachusetts Book Award, and named a best book by Shelf Awareness, Reading Group Choices and Mighty Girls. Her book was also nominated for a Golden Dome Award, an annual award selected by the votes of Vermont students.
The book is set in the 1980s during the AIDS epidemic and follows June Bug Jordan as she and her family grapple with mental illness and the loss of her father.
“In one respect it’s about outsiders and how close-knit neighborhoods deal with folks who don’t conform with what society expects,” Pixley told WestfordCAT. “It’s also about how a seemingly safe and perfect neighborhood can be a place where very complicated families must keep secrets to fit in.”
Sharing her experience
Pixley says her inspiration comes from her experience.
“Like June Bug, I dealt with the insecurity of not knowing what would happen to my father,” she said.
She added, “all of my books have to do with mental health struggles in one way or another. It’s through my writing that I’ve been able to confront what I deal with and what I’ve dealt with.”
During the height of the pandemic and after the loss of her father in 2020, Pixley says she “made the decision” to share her experience with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
“I made a decision to start telling people that I have OCD and that I have a family who suffers from a variety of mental illnesses. It gave me strength and bravery to do what my character did. It was not my intention but it’s what happened,” she said.
Along with her writing, Pixley works as an eighth-grade Language Arts teacher at Carlisle Public Schools and leads the Drama Club for her students. She says her writing gives her “credibility” as a teacher.
“Teaching for me has melded very nicely with my writing and allows me to talk to the kids about revision and using their imagination,” she said.
She added, “since I write about young people it keeps me in touch with their needs.”
Pixley now sets her sights on her next book, a ghost story written in verse, planned for release in 2025. Her previous works include Freak, Without Tess and Ready To Fall.
The event was held on Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the J.V. Fletcher Library. The event was hosted by the Friends of the J.V. Fletcher Library.
Westford Academy Girls Volleyball won their Senior Night game against Lowell High School 3-0 on Oct. 23. The game commenced after a recognition of the team’s four seniors, who are Jenny Alexander, Keilana daRosa, Ritu Venkat, and Jocelyn Vogel.
Westford Academy Boys Soccer won 2-1 to Waltham in their Senior Night on Oct. 26.
Neither team scored during the first half, although there were close calls. Into the second half, the Ghosts went into action, and senior Lucas Albuquerque scored with an assist from junior Alexander Xiang seven minutes in. WA was able to carry that momentum, and with 25 minutes left in the game, junior Kavi Soman won the Ghosts another goal with Lucas Albuquerque assisting.
Both teams went back and forth with the ball, with WA close to getting a few more goals; however, they were not able to stop Waltham from scoring in the last five minutes of the game.