The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of March 5 to March 12, 2020
What makes Winchendon what it is...How we're making Winchendon even better

HEAL Winchendon CIRCL Group Meeting brainstorms mission statement, plans

Nearly thirty Winchendon residents and representatives from town institutions, schools and organizations gathered in the Beals Memorial Library auditorium on the evening of Wednesday, March 4 for the monthly HEAL Winchendon CIRCL group meeting facilitated by Growing Places of Leominster. Children's activities were organized in the conference room next to the auditorium. The objective of this meeting was to brainstorm toward a mission statement and discuss visions and goals.

HEAL Winchendon is a long-term community-based project, which has been evolving for nearly two years, to create a viable system for supplying Winchendon residents with fresh, healthy, locally produced and affordable food.

A light meal was offered to fortify the attendees before the meeting began. Roots Natural Foods of Leominster provided a variety of fresh vegetable salads and a hot dish of quinoa and avocados, along with spring water.

After a quick introduction to the overall project, for those who were new to the meetings, attendees separated into four breakout groups based on their primary interest. Each group focused on one part of the Food Hub system: Producers, Retailers, Consumers, and Town Government/Policy Makers. Each group was asked to come up with newspaper headlines they imagine seeing about Winchendon ten years from now and examples of goals needed to reach that point.

Some of the headlines the breakout groups envisioned included, "From Farm to Fork," "From Seed to Succeed," "Food System Works for All,"Come See a New and Innovative Food Model in Winchendon," "Winchendon Comes Together to Create a Working Food System for All," "Winchendon Models Self-Sufficient Food Production for Residents," and "Food Kits for ALL--It Works!" Breakout groups independently shared a common vision of putting Winchendon on the map for its successful food system, and drawing people from outside Winchendon to buy fresh local food and learn from what we're doing.

Words repeated frequently by attendees included "sustainable," "unified," "local," and "education." Attendees envisioned intergenerational classes and projects where everyone in Winchendon would work together to improve lifestyles and health community-wide.

The Producer group discussed the need for the system to be financially sustainable, with ways of generating income and paying farmers and gardeners a fair rate for their product. The system can't rely on volunteers and retirees; it has to create a living income for the people at its core.

The breakout groups came up with some concrete tasks and goals needed to realize their visionary headlines. These included a policy framework supporting entrepreneurship; field trips and nutritional education for youth and young adults; classes in cooking and nutrition for all age groups; developing an inclusive pricing structure that's affordable but sustainable; a reliable market for farmers and gardeners that can handle everything produced by processing and storing what isn't immediately consumed; a central distribution location; everyone in the community being on board with the project.

Two teams of students from The Winchendon School presented their designs for meal kit packaging, including logos they created for the kits. One design consisted of a reusable container like a milk crate that consumers could pay for once and then bring back to refill. Their logo was "The Fresh Chef" with a basket of vegetables. The second team demonstrated a cardboard box with interior dividers and a seal on the top. Their logo represented the letters GPMK for Growing Places Meal Kit (which would be changed to HEAL Winchendon Meal Kit).

The meal kits will begin with fresh produce only, with consumers adding their own meat or protein to the meals as desired. The plan is to distribute kits once or twice per week.

The meeting concluded with attendees again forming breakout groups to discuss skills that each person can offer, roles, and next steps to take. Growing Places facilitators in each group noted down skills that the group members could contribute, and asked people to check off days and times during the week when they would be available to help.

The meeting ran past its scheduled end time of 7:30 p.m., and many people remained to talk enthusiastically as they helped clear away folding chairs and tables.

Upcoming events include a tour of the Franklin County Community Development Corporation (CDC) commercial kitchen on March 23, a HEAL Winchendon Coalition Update Event with a keynote speaker on April 16 and a free six-week "Cooking Matters" cooking course at the Pearl Drive Community Room on Monday nights April 6 through May 18 (see listings on the Your Town page for more details).

Rough path ahead toward making Winchendon's right-of-ways fully compliant with ADA

At their meeting on February 24, the Board of Selectmen heard the Final Report Addressing Current Condition of Town Sidewalks, Crosswalks and Curb Ramps, presented by George Snow, Principal Transportation Planner from Montachusett Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) and Bill Scarpati from Stantec, a consulting firm.

Mr. Snow explained that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires municipal Public Rights of Way (PROW) to be compliant with accessibility rules. Equal access means that town residents of all abilities would be able to use PROWs, participate fully in town activities and have interpreters or notetakers available for public meetings. The town also is required to identify an ADA Coordinator to help coordinate compliance between employer and employee, and a grievance procedure for those who wish to file a discrimination complaint. All of the town's communications, facilities and PROWs must be accessible to all users.

The ADA was signed into law in 1990. It requires communities to complete a self-evaluation of their facilities in the PROWs, and develop a plan on how the community will transition from non-compliant assets into compliance, within a reasonable time frame.

The Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (AAB) serves as the regulatory agency within the local Office of Public Safety. The AAB enforces compliance for the town's public buildings and rights of way, and has the right to issue the town a violation and enforce fines for non-compliance.

In 2018, Winchendon told the MRPC that the town would welcome assistance in assessing its PROWs for compliance. In the summer of 2019, MRPC and Stantec surveyed Winchendon's sidewalks, curb cuts, ramps and crosswalks as part of the town's required self-evaluation.

Sidewalks and ramps were inspected and evaluated for type of material and condition. Missing ramps, missing curb cuts at crosswalks, and other obvious deficiencies were noted. For example, a ramp exists but there is not enough of a level landing space at the top of it for a wheelchair to actually maneuver off the ramp. A level was used to measure slopes of ramps and wings at curb cuts, and the condition of crosswalks was cataloged.

Stantec identified 272 public ramps throughout the community, constructed of varying materials (hot-mix asphalt, concrete and brick). 15 percent of these ramps were found to be fully compliant. The remaining 85 percent are not compliant for different reasons. 23 percent were missing a ramp entirely where one is needed; 10 percent are missing a landing; 52 percent are non-compliant due to slope issues. These ramps are either too steep, or there is a lip at the top or bottom which a wheel would catch on.

Stantec calculated that it would cost $695,000 to repair all of the non-compliant ramps to current accessibility standards all at once, using the same materials used to construct the original ramp.

With an assembled ADA Advisory Team, comprised of Town Planning Director Tracy Murphy, DPW Director Al Gallant, Arthur Amenta and Lorraine Fortuno, Stantec developed a Network Priority Ranking Formula, which uses six criteria scored individually and then added together. The first is ramp condition. The second is proximity to schools--the closer to schools, the higher the score. Criterion three is proximity to MART bus stops, with ramps nearer the stops getting a higher score. Criterion four looks at proximity to workplaces and retail businesses, which have high traffic. Criterion five is scored according to proximity to recreation areas, and criterion six looks at the slope of the ramp. Using this formula, the ADA Advisory Team compiled a list and map of the ramps needing repair in order of highest priority.

Selectman Mike Barbaro noted that the Grove Street sidewalks were just redone in the fall, and the Central Street project will be redoing all the sidewalks on Central Street. He asked if those were figured into the estimated cost. Mr. Snow explained that the repair plan will be updated and adjusted over time as work is completed.

Mr. Scarpati went on to say that Stantec inspected 26 miles of public sidewalks. They found over 2000 points of trip hazards, cracks, tree roots pushing through the pavement, and so on. 76 percent of the sidewalks are hot-mix asphalt, 23 percent are concrete, and 1 percent had brick accent strips on concrete. They then calculated a Sidewalk Condition Index (SCI), indicating no attention needed, localized repair or full replacement of the sidewalk. Based on the complete SCI, repairing all sidewalks and bringing them to full accessibility would cost $1,600,000. 36 percent of Winchendon's public sidewalks need repair or full replacement based on surface conditions. In addition to this, 83 percent of the sidewalks are not ADA-compliant even if they don't require repair.

Stantec used a similar formula to assess priority for sidewalks as for ramps. The ADA Advisory Team agreed that a nine-year transition plan to bring all ramps into compliance was a reasonable schedule.

The town recommends allocating $85,000 per year for nine years to reconstruct between 22 and 28 ramps each year, starting with the highest priority; and second, to allocate $160,000 to remove barriers to accessibility on the existing sidewalks, starting with the highest priority. Replacement of sidewalks could be phased in as funding became available.

Town Manager Keith Hickey told the Selectmen that some funding is available or pending for repairs. $15,000 is left from a Robinson Broadhurst grant and the town has requested $200,000 from Robinson Broadhurst this year.

Mr. Barbaro stated that the nine year plan is not sustainable for the town based on finances, and that repairing and upgrading roads is a higher priority. He asked for a more realistic proposal.

Ms. Murphy said that the ADA Advisory Team understood this, and the reason for doing the assessment was to have solid information for grant requests.

Mr. Scarpati pointed out that many towns have delayed in doing required repair work in the thirty years since the ADA became law and are now catching up. The town's greatest liability risk is the wheelchair ramp backlog, not the sidewalks. The town needs a schedule to bring those into compliance. Anything beyond twelve years is not reasonable.

Mr. Hickey and Mr. Barbaro thanked Mr. Snow and Mr. Scarpati for their hard work.

Beals Library Announces Blind Date Winner

The Beals Memorial Library in Winchendon is excited to announce that patron, Jean Murphy, is the lucky winner of their annual, month-long Valentine’s event, Blind Date with a Book.

Each year, the Beals Memorial Library staff wrap up a selection of books, leaving only a single-sentence “pick-up line” hinting at what the book might be, treating participants to a literary blind date. For each book read, participants earned an entry for a chance to win a special prize. This year’s prize was a gift card to the Harbour restaurant.

Beals Blind Date With a Book Winner

Central Mass Tree

Do You Have a Garden in Winchendon?

You can help the Winchendon HEAL Project bring affordable, whole food back to town by telling us about your garden! Fill out this online survey:

What is the HEAL Winchendon Food Project?

Town of Winchendon
Office of the Town Clerk
Nomination Papers for Annual Town Election
May 4, 2020

There is still time to take out nomination papers for the town elections!
Nomination papers must be obtained and turned in on or before Monday, March 16, 2020 by 6:00 p.m.
Available terms:
ONE 3-year term for the Board of Selectmen
TWO 3-year terms for the School Committee
ONE 2-year unexpired term for the School Committee
TWO 2-year terms for the Board of Health.

Stone Ladeau Funeral Home

Toy Town FYIs

Be sure to complete, sign, and return your Town Census form in the enclosed envelope to the Town Clerk's office as soon as possible. Keeping your census up-to-date ensures your voter status remains active. If you don't receive a census form, you may request a form from the Town Clerk's office, located in Town Hall at 109 Front St.

Outdoor burning season begins on January 15 and runs until May 1. A permit for outdoor burning is required; you can purchase your permit online following the instructions in the link below:
2020 Burn Permit Application Made Easy (Google Doc)

2020 dog licenses are now available in the Town Clerk's office (in Town Hall, 109 Front Street), online (click here), or by mail. You must provide a valid, up-to-date rabies certificate.

Effective December 1

Winter Parking Ban
Town of Winchendon Bylaw
SECTION 7.18; WINTER BAN Parking is prohibited on all public ways between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., annually from December 1st through April 15th. In addition, any vehicle, other than one acting in an emergency, parked, day or night, on any street in the Town, so as to interfere with the work of removing or plowing snow, removing ice, or sanding the street may be removed or towed away under the authority, discretion and direction of the Chief of Police or the Chief’s designee. The registered owner of a motor vehicle which is removed pursuant to this bylaw shall be fully responsible for all charges and expenses incurred for the removal and storage of said motor vehicle.

As of Thursday, December 5, the Winchendon Fire Department will no longer be performing inspections at residences with excessive amounts of snow preventing access to the property. If a residence is found to be inaccessible the inspection will not be performed and an additional re-inspection fee will be charged.

CENSUS 2020 is coming, we need your participation!

CENSUS 2020 is coming! Your participation is important because your answers make a vital difference. When you respond to a survey or census, you are helping your community and the nation. Your answers, combined with others, become the statistics that businesses, governments and people like you use to make informed decisions about education, emergency preparedness, employment, international trade, health, housing, and other important topics.

More information can be found at:

The US Census Bureau is hiring thousands of people for the 2020 Survey. For more information go to:

Narcan Training at the Winchendon CAC

Beginning in January, the first Tuesday of the month the Winchendon CAC will be offering Narcan Training in affiliation with the Worcester Aids Project. You will learn to administer Narcan and receive a Narcan dispenser. Class space is limited--pre-registration is required. Please come into the office or call 978-297-1667 to register. The first class will be held on Tuesday, January 7. The Winchendon CAC is located at 273 Central St., Winchendon.

Clear Those Fire Hydrants!

If there's a fire hydrant near your's the fire hydrant the Fire Department will need if your house is on fire. With that in mind, help keep hydrants clear of snow and accessible this winter, for everyone's safety!

Hydrants should be completely clear of snow and ice, with an open area of three feet on all sides and clear open access from the street. It's a little extra work, but if the hydrant is needed, every second counts!

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