Norwood approves Moderna TIF, requests for capital projects at the STM
NORWOOD, MA – Norwood held two special town halls in the gymnasium at Norwood High School on Monday, October 18, where a TIF deal was unanimously approved for Moderna. Some projects in the capital improvement plan sparked debate before the passage, including lighting the high school grounds and relining the water pipes.
The section one debate, which allowed the Board of Selectmen to petition the state legislature for autonomy to extend the retirement age of Fire Chief David Hayes, sparked a storm of comments. Please read the relevant article here.
The remaining articles moved forward with some debate during the three-hour event. Two separate special meetings were held, with a separate meeting to consider the approval of a Tax Increase Funding Agreement, or TIF, for biotech giant Moderna, which has a campus in Norwood and plans to s ‘enlarge. This would allow real estate tax exemptions over a period of 10 years. This will be the third TIF between Moderna and the city.
The Moderna TIF agreement was adopted unanimously. Previously, Selectman William Plasko explained that Selectmen’s board unanimously approved the TIF at a recent board meeting. It was also approved by the Design Review Committee and the Finance Committee.
He added that Moderna’s expansion will bring economic benefits to Norwood. It will bring a $ 400 million investment to the city by renovating the old Mercer building while building another. Three hundred new employees will be added and 75 more will be transferred to the Burlington campus.
“Everything they promised, the amount of money they invested and the number of people they would hire far exceeded any of those commitments to the city.” Plasko said while arguing for the passage of the article.
Questions have arisen as to whether Moderna used animal testing and the role of Moderna’s Norwood complex. It was explained that Moderna does not perform animal testing. The COVID-19 vaccine is produced at the Norwood complex in Moderna with messenger RNA, or mRNA. More vaccines and treatments for cancer and other rare diseases are in the works.
âI would say Moderna, unlike any other Norwood company over the past 150 years, makes therapeutics that literally save lives around the world virtually every day,â said Michael Thornton in support of the article. “My feeling is that Moderna is on the cusp of offering a lasting partnership with the Town of Norwood that will fuel new and sustainable economic development in our town while literally healing humanity in the process.”
Investment projects approved after debate
The other important vote was the approval of the capital expenditure plan in section two. Over 25 projects were recommended for funding with available cash totaling $ 6,574,500. Non-public loans were approved for $ 6.8 million, while the water and sewer projects would involve a loan of $ 5,130,000, which was adopted unanimously. Norwood has over $ 10 million in certified cash.
Selectman Helen Donohue referred to the recent Selectmen board discussion about reconsidering what could be considered capital investment projects. She also said that the current setup of the capital spending committee consists of city officials. Its vision is to include more members of the public.
The project for a new synthetic turf athletic field at the high school track and field track complex was a major concern. Facilities manager Paul Riccardi noted that all of the schools Norwood competes against have artificial turf pitches when a question was raised about the use of grass instead. The new artificial turf pitch would have padding underneath that the current pitch does not have. Several sports are played on the field, which would make the grass impossible due to wear and tear.
The item of $ 650,000 for field lighting was also questioned. This would allow the use of the land in the evening, as well as possible rental by other entities. It was proposed to implement the lighting at the same time as the field installation so that new turf does not have to be dug up in the future.
Finance Commissioner Anne Haley, a member of the District Four City Meeting, said when the high school was built, “the neighbors were given a verbal promise that there would be no light” on two occasions. due to concerns about surrounding light pollution.
“This is not a one night stand for one or two Friday night football games,” she said. “Once they’re in, everyone uses them.”
She brought forward a motion to remove the $ 650,000 lighting station, which was not passed unanimously. After the debate, Haley noted, “I should have had it in writing. We made a mistake.”
School committee chair Teresa Stewart said the committee recently discussed the concern at a meeting. The committee will work with the community on a land use agreement if lights are installed, she explained.
NHS Director Hugh Galligan said the lighting would help the culture of the school and involve the community in supporting the teams.
âMany students find their sense of belonging and belonging to a school through these things,â he added.
Several members said the lights would be an asset to the field as they would bring the community together in an external setting, a need the pandemic has highlighted.
After a long discussion, the main motion on the use of free cash was adopted unanimously.
The second part of the article called for $ 6.8 million to repair roads and replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the Norwood Public Safety Building. Riccardi said that “the environment inside this building is in a nutshell inconsistent on an average day.”
“We owe it to the people who are in this building and who have supported this system for 20 years to put in place a system that works as it should,” he said, calling it a “nightmare”. He also said the heat works simultaneously with the air conditioning in the summer.
This motion was carried unanimously.
The last major issue, raised by Donohue, concerned the relining of water pipes. She noted that Norwood “is only 150 years old next year.” She suggested the city only use $ 1 million per year, rather than the proposed figure of $ 5.13 million, as had been done before. The project would be funded by an interest-free loan from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). This motion was also adopted unanimously.