The April 22 Town Meeting is fast approaching! Among the many warrant articles for voters to decide are eight related to Community Preservation Act proposals, ranging from affordable housing opportunities to improvements to the Plymouth River School Playground. CPA funding comes from a tax surcharge approved by Hingham voters in the early 2000s and may only be used for affordable housing, open space acquisition, historic preservation, and certain recreational projects.
This year's proposals -- recommended by the Hingham Community Preservation Committee -- total $725,546 million. Town Meeting has the final say.
* $300,000 toward potential affordable housing opportunities;
* $29,921 to stabilize the Old Ordinary Museum and the Annex at 21 Lincoln Street;
* $60,000 for the Rec Commission to conduct a comprehensive study of the town's athletic fields and tennis and basketball courts;
* $11,651 to restore the mechanisms of six bells in the Memorial Bell Tower;
* $120,000 for additional funding to complete the Bathing Beach bathhouse/concession stand;
* $24,445 to be used by the School Committee to rehabilitate/restore the Plymouth River School Playground;
* $19,528 to continue restoration and conservation of veterans' markers and monuments in the Liberty Plain Cemetery;
* $50,000 for the CPC's administrative fund.
Which of these projects will you support at Town Meeting, or do you think all of them are worthy of funding? Every vote counts, so mark your calendars for April 22!
By Carol Meyer
Merchants, shoppers, and those driving and walking by the near-replica of the landmark 1859 Italianate-style Lincoln Building in Hingham Square are pleased to see that the fencing is down — a sure sign of progress!
"We're excited and looking forward to a grand opening possibly at the end of April hosted at Tosca," said Charlene Flynn of TLC Real Estate, who owns the building with Reuven Levy. "This will add even more vibrancy to downtown Hingham." The building is being praised by town officials and residents alike following a long development process.
The leases haven't been signed for the first-floor retail space yet, but Flynn confirmed that TLC and two high-end boutiques will be among the five businesses on the first floor. "We've been talking with a lot of different possible tenants, from high-end clothing boutiques to a gelato shop," she said.
There are four one-bedroom units on the second floor and two, two-bedroom penthouse units on the top floor.
The original building, which was slated for eventual demolition, was taken down after the roof collapsed following several heavy snowstorms in early 2015. The plans got the final okay from the zoning board of appeals in 2016.
Are you excited about this new addition to Hingham Square and looking forward to finding out what retail shops will be located there?
By Carol Meyer
The winter of 2015 is not easily forgotten! In all, about 100 inches of snow fell on Hingham. The result was the calling off of school for many days -- even school kids got tired of making snow angels and snow men and women in their yards -- the collapse of the roof and part of the third floor of the 1859 Lincoln Building in the heart of downtown Hingham, other collapsed roofs around town, lots of building leaks, and mounds of snow to shovel, plow, and walk through when trying to reach our front doors.
In early March 2015 Hingham Farmers Market organizers and vendors were wondering whether the snow would melt from the Bathing Beach parking lot before the planned early-May opening day -- fortunately it did!
That said, although February and March so far this year haven't been easy, here's a photo of the "farm" at the Bathing Beach -- where excess snow was stored that year -- taken by Wendell Davis in early 2015. He and his wife Linda of Baking with Joy are regular market vendors.
What stands out to you the most about that memorable -- and tough -- winter?
So looking back, this year hasn't been so bad -- at least not yet -- right?
by: Carol Meyer
There's nothing better to help chase away the wintertime blues than good music!
The Coffeehouse off the Square, located in the Old Ship Parish House in Hingham Square features well-known as well as budding performers -- from jazz and roots to bluegrass and harp music.
The Coffeehouse, which starts with an open mic at 8 p.m., provides a welcoming atmosphere to just relax, listen to good music, and enjoy a cup of coffee and dessert. Everyone is welcome!
Remaining performances this year from March through May on the third Saturday of the month include witty and engaging Irish singer-songwriter Robbie O'Connell; the multi-talented Eric Cornetta and Friends; and Ezekiel's Wheels, a lively and enjoyable Klezmer Band.
For further information visit http://oldshipchurch.org/coffeehouse-off-the-square.html
The booking committee is already lining up performers for the 2019-20 season. What kinds of live music would you like to see at the Coffeehouse and at other local venues?
By: Carol Meyer
The recent decision by the Hingham Public Library Trustees to withdraw a Town Meeting warrant article regarding a proposed renovation project linked to a potential $9.1 million state grant was due in large part to the increased cost of construction related to inflation and other factors as well as the many other competing capital projects under consideration.
It's uncertain at this time whether the Trustees will apply again to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners when the grant program becomes available again -- likely no earlier than 2025 and possibly later -- and what the next steps will be moving forward to meet library needs without grant money.
One thing is for sure, though -- Hingham Public Library continues to be the "go-to" place for children, teens, and adults who enjoy its many offerings -- ranging from an impressive collection of books, DVDs, e-Books, and CDs, awesome programming for all ages, concerts, research and technology assistance, computer access, a quiet welcoming environment, a beautiful courtyard, friendly and helpful customer service, and much more.
Many thanks and much appreciation to the Trustees and Library Director Linda Harper for their three years of hard work on the grant to make HPL an even better place -- and in advance for their continuing efforts to maintain its high-quality and level of service.
What do you like best about HPL, and what draws you and your kids/grandchildren there? What's your favorite offering?
By: Carol Meyer
What's the biggest challenge?
Like all communities, Hingham has its challenges. While the town's stock of affordable housing (with some lower than prevailing market-rate rents and sales prices through the state comprehensive permit process) has steadily increased in recent years, there's a need for more truly affordable units. There are also between $75 and $100 million dollars' worth of potential capital projects under consideration -- including Foster School, a senior center expansion, and new fire station.
There's also the issue of increasing development and its impacts on neighborhoods and school enrollment and whether or not the town should purchase the portion of the Aquarion Water Company system serving Hingham, Hull, and part of Cohasset.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the town -- any of the above or something else? Citizen participation is an important part of town government!
By Carol Meyer
The Cleaner Greener Hingham Committee is proposing a ban on single-use plastic bags.
The overriding message is that while plastic bags are "convenient, recyclable, and part of everyday life," only seven percent of them get recycled while the rest take many years to break down, taking a toll on the environment and on wildlife.
The ban, if approved, applies to the thin plastic bags available at grocery stores and pharmacies but not produce, newspaper, or dry cleaning bags. Town Meeting would have the final say.
The next Cleaner Greener Hingham informational meeting about this issue will be held Thursday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. in the Whiton Room of the Hingham Public Library, 66 Leavitt St. Stop by to learn more about the proposal, to ask questions, or to air your concerns or support.
What are your thoughts? Do you think the pros outweight any minuses?
by Carol Meyer
Hingham Residents Against the Compressor Station, in addition to town officials and residents in a number of neighboring communities, is strongly opposed to the natural-gas compressor station proposed at the Fore River off Rte. 3A since it would be located about two miles from the nearest part of Hingham.
In support of HRAC's efforts, the Hingham Selectmen voted on Jan. 31 to appeal the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's recent issuance of the air quality permit for the proposed station by the Feb. 1 deadline.
"This could be a long haul for the South Shore," said Selectman Mary Power earlier.
"Given the limitations of the recent Health Impact Assessment, we simply do not know the true impacts the proposed compressor station would have on the health, safety, economy, and environment of Hingham," HRAC President Jenn Mathien stated in a letter to the Selectmen. "We do know, however, that if there is an impact on Hingham, it will be negative."
What do you think?
by Carol Meyer
The town election season has already had some action.
There are 13 current office-holders with terms expiring this year. So far there's a potential four-way race for three seats on the school committee, including two incumbents -- Elizabeth (Liza) O'Reilly and Carlos DaSilva. Fellow committee member Kay Praschma has not yet taken out papers. The other two potential candidates are Joshua Ross and Nancy Correnti. (There's a race when two or more candidates for a given seat submit their completed nomination papers.) Zoning Board of Appeals member Joseph Fisher has taken out papers for the Selectman's seat currently held by Paul Healey, whose term expires this year. Healey has not yet announced whether he will run for another term.
Town Moderator Michael Puzo, Board of Assessors member Christine Roberts, and Kirk Shilts have also pulled papers -- Shilts for his seats on both the Board of Health and Sewer Commission.
For a complete list of elected officials with terms expiring in 2019 visit https://www.hingham-ma.gov/ Nomination papers are available in the Town Clerk's Office. Completed papers are due back by 5 p.m. March 7.
Be sure to mark your calendars for election day! In the meantime, if you were to run for any office, which would it be? (No obligation to run!)
by Carol Meyer
Site work for the new combined bathhouse, snack shack, and community room are underway at the Hingham Bathing Beach off Rte. 3A following numerous delays. Bathing Beach Trustee Alan Perrault reports that the project is moving along, with utilities in place and the mini-piles to be installed in the near future.
"The modular building sections should be delivered by April 1 and the inside and outside work finished in the following months," he said.
That's great news for some Bathing Beach fans, and a lot of work has gone into the project. What do you think about the work as planned -- or do you like the Bathing Beach just the way it is?