Peirce Building, new treatment plant among Town Meeting issues

Apr 16, 2024

MIDDLEBORO – A 99-year lease for the Peirce Building. A $119.1 million town budget. The exclusion of heavy commercial trucks on Old Centre Street between Bedford and Pleasant streets. 

Those are three of the top issues to be decided by voters at the Annual Town Meeting to take place at Middleboro High School at 7 p.m. Monday, April 22.

Voters will be asked whether to approve a zoning change to prevent commercial development on a portion of Harding Street. 

Approval of the town’s overall $119.1 million budget for next year is also on the warrant.

The budget includes $5.5 million for general government; $40.6 million for education; $11.3 million for public safety; $2.2 million for the Department of Public Works; $1.4 million for library and recreation; $4.4 million for school transportation; $9.7 million for debt service; $23.4 million for town and school employee benefits and insurance; and $3.9 million for “unclassified,” which takes in a variety of expenses, including Bristol Plymouth Regional Technical School enrollment and property and liability costs.

About half of these expenses – $59.3 million – will be covered by town property taxes. The remainder will essentially be covered by $26.5 million in state aid and $10.8 million in local receipts. 

Voters will also be asked whether to spend $33 million for the construction of a new East Grove Water Treatment Plant that would treat for manganese, iron and PFAS, which are man-made chemicals that have been used in the manufacturing of certain fire-fighting foams, moisture and stain-resistant products and other industrial processes. 

The levels of PFAS in the East Grove Well exceeded the state limit for the last two quarters. A significant portion of the cost will be offset by state grants and a zero interest loan, Town Manager James McGrail said. 

 Voters will also be asked to approve $350,000 to take the next steps in tying the Miller/Tispaquin/Rocks pumping stations together to eliminate manganese, iron and PFAS in the water. The money would fund a pilot study and evaluation of the project. The ultimate goal of constructing the plant will be brought up at a future meeting. The $350,000 will come from water rates and not be borne through taxes

A vote will also be taken on whether to accept a 99-year lease for the historic Peirce Building at 99 North Main St. The proposal would create office spaces in the front of the building and eight apartments in the rear. The lease holder has proposed paying the town, which would maintain ownership of the building, $1,000 each month; terms are still being worked on. 

Voters will also be asked to approve $1,500,000 to replace the HVAC system at Middleboro Public Library. The system has been in existence since 1993 and has exceeded its service life. 

The Community Preservation Committee is seeking approval to spend $190,000 on four projects. These $15,000 to restore old gravestones at the Reed/Peirce and Tack cemeteries; $50,000 to preserve 10 senior housing units in two Middleboro Housing Authority buildings; $50,000 to provide down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers; and $75,000 to support the West Street lacrosse field project. Community preservation funds come through a 1 percent local surcharge on taxes. 

A vote will be taken on a request submitted by a town resident to exclude heavy commercial vehicles from Old Centre Street between Bedford and Pleasant streets. Resident Matt Phillips proposed the article, saying that the large trucks cause traffic issues in the area. Some town officials have questioned whether such a proposal would lead to similar requests in other parts of town.