By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — An MBTA offer of a free shelter for inbound bus commuters in Wakefield Square was turned down by the Board of Selectmen last night. The aluminum and tempered glass shelter would have stood on the sidewalk in front of The Old Theatre Block and would have provided a place for commuters to get out of the elements while waiting for inbound buses to Oak Grove Station.
But the selectmen did not like the look of the shelter, saying that it did not fit in with efforts to improve the appearance of the downtown.
Sandra Cleary presented the offer of the shelter on behalf of the MBTA. She said that the shelter would be 15 feet long, five feet deep and 7.5 feet tall. It would have a bench inside, she added.
The MBTA, she said, would very much like to provide the riders with a sheltered place to wait for the bus, noting that the Wakefield center bus stop was selected due to its high boarding counts.
“People who ride the bus from Wakefield would greatly appreciate a place to wait for the bus out of the wind and the rain,” Cleary said.
Selectman Tiziano Doto said that he was concerned about defacing and asked what the plan was for upkeep.
Cleary said that a cleaning contract would come with the shelter.
Chairman Brian Falvey pointed out that Wakefield was in the process of trying to improve its streetscape. He said that he like the idea of a shelter for commuters but was not thrilled with the look of the one being offered. He asked if there were other options available.
Cleary explained that the MBTA already had five of the shelters at its site. She said that the only other option was a narrower version that was only 2.5 feet deep.
Falvey said that he would “rather fund it ourselves than take the cookie cutter free model.”
Selectman Patrick Glynn said that in Boston he had observed a different style of MBTA bus shelter and asked if something like that would be available for Wakefield.
Cleary said that she was familiar with the shelters Glynn was referencing but that they were not available.
Selectman Phyllis Hull agreed with Doto and Falvey that the shelter being offered would not be good for the downtown.
Selectman Ann Santos said that she commutes to and from Boston every day via commuter rail and really appreciated the MBTA shelter at the Greenwood train station, noting that it was well-maintained.
Town administrator Stephen P. Maio said that he recognized the need for a shelter but he did not like the idea of placing it in front of the Old Theatre Block building, which he maintained was “arguably the nicest building in the downtown.”
Maio added that the look of the shelter was “contrary to everything we are trying to do in our downtown.”
The selectmen voted unanimously to reject MBTA’s offer. Selectman Paul DiNocco recused himself from the discussion and the vote.
The selectmen approved a new collective bargaining agreement between the town and the library employees union. The monetary terms, Maio said, were consistent with other town employee contracts and called the following cost of living salary increases: 1.25 percent on July 1, 2015; 1.5 on Jan. 1, 2016; 1.5 percent on July 1, 2016; 1.5 on Jan 1, 2017; 1.5 percent on July 1, 2017, and 1.5 percent on Jan. 1, 2018.
Maio noted that there was also a 1.5 percent step increase on Jan. 1, 2016 that would affect 23 members of the bargaining unit. The total cost of the library contract was $22,000, he said.
The board approved a new three-year agreement with the DPW workers union that runs from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2018. Maio said that the cost of living increase schedule was the same as the library and all other town unions. He said that there was an additional increase in the allowance for uniforms and boots in the DPW contract.
Maio said that based on comparisons to other towns he felt that the DPW workers were underpaid and for that reason the town was looking at adding two top steps, one at 2 percent this year and one at 2 percent next year.
The board also approved a new contract with the firefighters union. Maio said that the firefighters contact was a year behind other town bargaining units running from July 1, 2014 through the end of 2017. He said that the cost of living increases were the same as the other town contracts. He said that the cost of the contract for the current year (FY 2015) was $116,000 and for the next year is $239,000 because it also includes this year’s increase, which was not in the already approved FY 2016 budget.
In other business last night, the Board of Selectmen:
• Approved a request from Town Accountant John J. McCarthy Jr. to transfer $327,373.88 from the town’s capital projects account to the general fund in order to make bond payments due on April 15, 2015.
• Scheduled a public hearing for April 27 at 7:45 p.m. for D&M Liquor Corp., d/b/a S&M Liquors for a Package Store License.
• Scheduled a public hearing for April 27 at 8 p.m. for CIBO Café, LLC for a Wine & Malt Beverages with Cordials/Liqueurs License.
• Approved a request from Library Director Sharon Gilley to accept and expend $965 in gifts from various donors.
• Scheduled a joint meeting with the Board of Library Trustees on April 27 to fill a vacancy on the Library Board.