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Upton Looking into Regional Dispatch

During a May 15 meeting, the Board of Selectmen discussed the possibility of joining forces with other local communities to create regional dispatch services.

Town Manager Blythe Robinson told the Board she will be meeting with town managers, fire chiefs, and police chiefs from Sutton, Northbridge, Uxbridge, and Douglas to discuss the possibility of shared dispatch services and then plans to report back to the Board her findings. One of the foremost reasons for communities to set up shared dispatch services is the significant cost savings for the towns involved. Another benefit of regionalized dispatch is sharing information among the other towns and public safety departments.

Towns typically set up at least a three town dispatch district. According to Robinson, "A five town district makes the most sense financially," she said to the Board.

When towns share dispatch services, one of the communities involved oversees the lone dispatch center for everyone. Robinson pointed out one of the disadvantages of this is the other police stations involved are not staffed when residents walk in to report incidents or concerns. However, according to Robinson, that is typically resolved with the use of a video feed to be used by residents who will communicate with dispatchers through it.

Should the initiative continue to progress, public hearings will be held in all five communities in order to receive residents' input.

In other news that evening, a draft copy of the Railroad Fact Finding Committee's Executive Summary was distributed to the Board. The Committee is made up of representatives of the Planning Board, the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Health, and a citizen representative who include Gary Bohan, Ken Picard, Richard Desjardins, and Bill Taylor, respectively. The Committee's charge was to research the operations of the Grafton/Upton Railroad's activity on Maple Ave.

In 2008, Jon Delli Priscoli purchased the Grafton Upton Railroad. In addition, a transloading business, which is run as a contracted operation by Grafton Upton Railcare onsite, pumps both hazardous and nonhazardous materials from rail cars to truck trailers. As a result, local residents have voiced concerns over hazardous materials coming and going through town and have questioned if the transloading business is pre-empted from local regulations. To help address residents concerns, the Board of Selectmen formed the Railroad Fact Finding Committee in August 2011.

The Committee put together a number of questions to answer concerning railroad activities and the report also offers two different opinions that address whether or not the Surface Transportation Board (STB) might respond to a Declaratory Order concerning the pre-emptive status of local regulations on the Maple Ave. property. The report also calls for an action item on the part of the Board of Selectmen to determine if the town should contact the STB or Federal Court to resolve pre-emptive concerns. The full report will be presented to the Board of Selectmen during a June 5 meeting.




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