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Advisory Board Meeting Minutes

Friday, August 5, 2016

The MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA) Advisory Board met on Friday, August 5, 2016 at 1:00 pm, at 15 Blandin Avenue, Framingham, MA, at the call of Joe Nolan, Advisory Board Chair/Wayland.

In attendance were: Edward Carr/MWRTA Administrator, Patrick Moynihan/MWRTA Counsel, Joseph Nolan/Wayland/Chair, Ed Burman/Ashland, Cheryl Tully Stoll/Framingham, James Errickson/Natick, Susan Stocker/ Disabled Community, Betsey Boyd/Weston, Brian Herr/Hopkinton, James Gorman/Sherborn, Nick Milano/Marlborough, Kathleen Bartolini/Southborough.

MWRTA Consultants: John Glynn, Daniel Fitch

MWRTA Staff: Eva Willens/Deputy Administrator, Carl Damigella, Ieshia Price, Joy Glynn.

Kiessling Transit: Claire DiPillo

The meeting was called to order at 1:02 pm.

Mr. Nolan declared a quorum was present.

Order of Business:

Advisory Board approval of MBTA lease of Framingham Commuter Rail Parking

Appoint Advisory Board Vice Chair and Clerk

Committee to review and update By – Laws and make recommendations at the next meeting

Minutes of the previous meeting:

A motion was made by Joe Nolan: Approval of minutes from the last Advisory Board Meeting.

Comments:

Betsey Boyd/Weston: Requested a revision to the minutes of June 20, 2016, page 8, 9th paragraph referencing “Weston COA to Board” that the wording of the sentence: “We are not comfortable with the risk of that” be removed. Mr. Nolan requested that the Deputy Administrator review the tape of the June 20th meeting to confirm what was stated. Mr. Nolan stated that the discussion/vote of the requested revision would resume later in the meeting.

No approval was made at the time.

Public Questions/Comments:

A request was made by Joe Nolan for any public comments or questions from the audience. With no comments being expressed, the meeting continued.

Administrator’s Report:

Wellesley and Dover transition to the MWRTA Ride has been going well. Naturally there have been one or two customer issues, but the majority seem to be satisfied. Improvements will be made as we move forward.

The Milford Earmark funding was restored and we intend to begin service August 29, 2016. Hudson Earmark funding was restored, as well, and the RTA looks forward to working with Jack Hunter to establish service in Hudson.

The CNG operator contract negations are still ongoing.

Natick Connector services are increasing and the RTA has begun the process of providing them with an additional vehicle. Mr Carr applauded Jemma Lambert, Community Center Director, for her efforts to make the service program work.

The tentative date for the Vietnam Memorial dedication will be Thanksgiving weekend.

Appraisals for the Waverly St. property and the East St. property have begun and it is expected a board decision will be needed early this fall.

Mr. Carr discussed what he feels will be an opportunity for MetroWest as a region, as the RTA establishes a presence at the Framingham Commuter Rail Station. The Framingham Downtown Renaissance Group has asked that the RTA host a meeting of invited guests for discussion regarding the disposition of the Fitchburg Spur, which runs from Fitchburg through Marlborough, Southborough into Framingham, connecting at the main line. The meeting will take place at Blandin Ave. sometime after Labor Day and anyone that’s on the board that’s interested in attending will be cordially invited. The regional implications of this are enormous, connecting Marlborough with Southborough by rail to the main line and also Staples and the 9/90 area, as well as Framingham State University.

Chair: Interjected and welcomed to the board, Betsey Boyd as a representative from Weston. Ms. Boyd is replacing Toni Wolf, who served on the board for a great number of years.

Mr. Nolan asked that a letter of appreciation for service on the board, could be sent to Ms. Wolf.

Discussion: Administrator’s Report – Questions from Board members:

Q: Why was there an increase with the Natick Connector?

A: They have changed managers and also reached out to the Veterans for volunteer drivers.

Q: What are the new towns that the RTA now provides RIDE service?

A: Wellesley and Dover. Natick, and Framingham are two towns that have had existing RIDE service through the RTA.

Q: How are the transfers working out at Riverside?

A: If you went by percentage of complaints, its minuscule, but each and every customer is important to the RTA.

Q: Have we agreed to a date to host the meeting with FDR concerning the Fitchburg Spur?

A: Not yet, but I’m assuming the first week after Labor Day.

New Business:

Advisory Board approval of MBTA Lease of Framingham Commuter Rail Parking:

Patrick Moynihan, MWRTA Counsel: The Board authorized the RTA at the last meeting to proceed with the negotiations with the MBTA, finalize this lease and bring it back to the board for approval. The genesis of this project came about when Mr. Carr sought MBTA approval to open up the so-called banana lot, which, at the time, was a dead end with only one way in and out. The RTA subsequently opened up the other end of the lot, with the assistance of the Town of Framingham DPW, to provide circular access in and out of the parking lot for the benfit of parking lot customers and for the RTA buses.

The proposed lease with the MBTA provides for the RTA to take over the paking lot and commuter rail station. Under the lease the RTA will be responsible for day-to-day management of the facility, including parking enforcement and security. Daily parking revenue received (as well as revenue from parking violations and vendor licenses) will be used to offset station management costs. Any revenue shortfall will be supplemented by the MBTA, based on an annually approved budget. An annual budget will be provided by the MWRTA to the MBTA, projecting expenses and anticipated expenses for the given year. If expenses exceed income for the year, the MBTA is obligated to supplement those expenses. If revenue exceeds expenses, then it will be shared 50% with the MBTA. The RTA’s 50% will go back into the station.

In the absence of adequate day-to-day oversight of this facility by the MBTA, the RTA is a natural management tool for the operation of this station. From a public transportation point of view, it is not only in the MBTA’s interest, but also the RTA’s, to create a convenient way for people to access the commuter rail system, while expanding the parking. The RTA will be responsible for the entire station, except for the platform directly adjacent to the tracks, due to the liability risk. The term of the lease is five years, with two options of ten years, each. The termination rights are open ended, whereby wither party may cancel the lease upon 180 days’ notice at any time, for any reason. As a consequence, there is not much risk to the RTA if it is determined that the lease is not advantageous to the Authority.

Ed Carr: Discussion ensued regarding the MWRTA’s involvement over the last few years with the additional access of the parking lot, making it a better and safer situation for all that use the station. The Director of Rail for the Commonwealth came out and discussed what could be done to improve the station. The Framingham DPW has partnered with the RTA do assist in the project as well.

MassDOT has appropiated 2.3 million dollars to start the project and we are hopeful that it will come in under budget. Once the project is completed, the RTA will present an operational budget to the MBTA and the Advisory Board, which will include revenue from the planned additional 200 parking spaces. The overall plan includes shelters built from Keefe Tech and a caboose the RTA aquired from the owner of Edaville Railroad.
The mission of this project is to be intermobile where bus and train come together.

Q: Will we let everyone know who is managing it?

A: Absolutely, there will be signage of management.

Q: Will the T’s vendor still collect parking fares and send it to us?

A: No, we will be the vendor.

Q: Are we going to do something electronic?

A: That’s a learning curve. It is done electronically, part of the lease says the T gets the money first and they deduct what their expenses are and we get whatever is remaining. They have to explain to us what the expenses are. We’re already doing that with our Charlie Card process.

Q: If we are spending more to clean up the station, than originally budgeted and we go to the next year, it will cost us that much plus more. The relevant provision of the lease states that the T is responsible for making up the differential. If we continue to get these deficits how will this be remedied if we wanted out within 180 days?

A: If the RTA is not happy with the financial situation we can opt out sooner, i.e. upon 120 days notice.
The RTA is hoping that with improvements to the station and service, that there will be an increase in revenue with more people using the parking and the buses. The T is obligated to make up the difference on an annual basis. They have the right, but are not required to take money back from any furture excess revenues.

Ed Carr: This station is number 10 on the list of commuter rail stations as far as generating revenue in the whole system, even in the condition it is currently in.

Patrick Moynihan: We believe that a lot more people would come to Framingham, if there was additional space to park.

Discussion: With regard to residents not taking the Framingham train due to limited parking and security concerns.

Q: Will we have a small subcommittee that will include Framingham residents?

A: Yes.

Patrick Moynihan: Yes, and part of the deal is that there will be cameras in use.

Cheryl Tully Stoll : Framingham Police have increased foot patrols in the area.

Chair: The infrastructure is improved lighting and the cameras. We have been a good neighbor to our community. When the RTA started it was in a car dealership, then the Meineke building and the building we’re in now is the best example. Compared to the other RTA’s, we did it with 10 cents on the dollar. Framingham is one of the highest ridership stations and we have the opportunity to help the town of Framingham, help the T and help the RTA with its intermodal goals.

Ed Carr: The town of Framingham took a step last year to increase density downtown, and work towards transit orientated development. Transit orientated development will not work unless we pay attention to the reason for transit and the amenities.

Q: Are there any plans to sublet or to be part shop or coffee shop?

A: No not at this time, but we have authority to do so.

Ed Carr: The RTA will make use of bike lockers that have been in town storage and install at the station.

Discussion: Parking

Q: Do you have the right to alter the fee for parking? Do you have any plans too?

A: The RTA will have to work with the T regading any fee changes.

Motion made by Joe Nolan: To approve the MBTA Lease of Framingham Commuter Rail Parking..

Second: Ed Burman and Cheryl Tully Stoll. No opposition. The vote was unanimous.

Discussion: Parking

Q: Do you have the right to alter the fee for parking? Do you have any plans too?

A: The RTA will have to work with the T regading any fee changes.

Appointment of Advisory Board Vice Chair and Clerk:

Jay Marsden has expressed an interest in becoming Vice Chair, replacing Charlie Hughes.

Ed Burman expressed his interest in replacing Mr. Marsden, as Clerk.

Motion made by Joe Nolan: To approve the appointment of Jay Marsden as Vice Chair of the Advisory Board and Ed Burman as Clerk to the Advisory Board.

Second: Brian Herr. No opposition. The vote was unanimous.

Committee to review and update By–Laws and make recommendations at next meeting:

Ed Carr: The RTA is looking for one board member to coordinate with the RTA management to update the By-Laws of the Authority. Dates, addresses and possibly other items need to be revised.

The Chair reminded the members that when the document is sent out prior to the next meeting for their review, any comments should be sent to the Administrator and under the Open Meeting Law should not be discussed amongst members themselves, until the next scheduled open meeting.

Q: Is any member interested?

With no offers heard, Chair will ask Mr. Marsden about filling the position and will review himself, if Mr. Marsden declines.

Motion made by Joe Nolan: To approve the Committee comprised of Jay Marsden to review and update By–Laws and make recommendations to the Board at the next meeting.

Second: Ed Burman No opposition. The vote was unanimous.

Chair: Previous meeting minutes

Eva Willens: After reviewing the tape several times, it was determined that the actual statement used was “We are not comfortable with the “threat” of that. It states the word “risk” in the current written minutes.

Chair: I was not present at the previous meeting, I will let the people who were there work through it.

Betsey Boyd: If the word sounded like threat on the tape then I must go along with the tape.

Brian Herr: Mr. Chair, I recommend that we approve the minutes with the word risk replaced with the word threat.

Minutes of the previous meeting:

A motion was made by Brian Herr: Approval of minutes from the last Advisory Board Meeting, with the revision of replacing the word “risk” with the word “threat”

Second: Nick Milano No opposition. Two abstentions were noted: Betsy Boyd and Joe Nolan, as they were not in attendance at the previous meeting. The vote was unanimous.

Discussion:

Q: What is the status of service in Weston, what are we doing?

A: Nothing, we’re not statutorily obligated to do anything.

Q: Is the T threating to still drop their services in Weston?

A: The T is still providing services, any discussions will be between the T and the Town of Weston.

Chair: The T is obligated to provide services within a certain quarter adjacent to their existing services.
There is still ongoing discussions between the Town of Weston and the T.
Ed Carr: As there should be.

Q: We talked about the spur, what is the timeline for this?

A: The meeting that Framingham Downtown Renaissance (FDR) is trying to coordinate is to

gather stakeholders who have an interest, that will allow for the interested parties to go to the Governors office and express that a discussion is desired with CSX.

Nick Milano: Right now MassDOT and the MBTA are undergoing their future 40/25 capital plan. From Marlborough’s perspective, our goal is restoration commuter rail service. This is the number one long term goal.

Discussion: Are there any other member comments? Do we need to have another meeting to create a subcommittee?

Ed Carr: The next meeting should be in the fall, as we move closer to the CNG project which will be the next thing we have to vote on.

Q: Subcommitte for Framingham Rail project? Do we want to bring in people from the community?

A: Should come up with a structure for the board prior to moving forward.

Q: Is FDR asking this because there is strong support as an economic development for this happening?

A: Yes

Ed Carr: I encourage all of you during the weekend of Thanksgiving, to come to the Vietnam Memorial dedication.

We want this to be special. 60 plus families with loved ones names on the monument. Thought this would be an appropriate time frame.

Motion made by Joe Nolan: To adjourn the meeting.

Second: Ed Burman No opposition. The vote was unanimous.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:55 pm.

Next meeting to be scheduled in September 2016.

Certificate

The undersigned being the duly qualified clerk of the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority Advisory Board, acknowledges that the foregoing minutes accurately reflect the actions taken at a legally convened meeting of the Advisory Board held on August 5, 2016.


Ed Burman, Clerk

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