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New 'University Station' Project in the Works

News on a new form of the Westwood Station project came late Friday afternoon.

In two years time, Westwood could see the long-standing Westwood Station project come to fruition. 

The first phase of the newly-dubbed "University Station" project is expected to be completed in 2014, . 

A partnership between New England Development, Eastern Real Estate, National Development/Charles River Realty Investors and Clarion Partners is working to acquire 130 acres of Westwood to develop the mixed-use development project to include retail, housing, office and hotel use, according to Friday's announcement. 

The team involved is working on the initial stages of crafting a proposed master plan to submit to Westwood officials.

Westwood Patch will provide more information on the revamped project as it develops.

Mary Masi-Phelps May 03, 2012 at 11:48 PM
P.s. the interest on the late payment was based on interest rates set by state law.
WW Resident May 04, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Mary, I appreciate you jumping into this forum to answer questions from your fellow residents!
bchk May 05, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Mary, thanks so much for filling me/us in on the details. It's understood, but wouldn't the $344K offset the 3.3% increase for the school budget and decrease the residential tax burden? (still don't know how the school department proposed this increase when it's going to receive an 11% increase from the state). It's great to contribute to the stabilization fund, but better to do so when the economy improves. I'm afraid the consistent trend of tax increases in this Town have had such a negative affect on its residents that I believe it has cost us far more than any savings being imagined by putting this kind of money into the stabilization fund. Although I do understand it, I don't believe this is the time.
Mary Masi-Phelps May 07, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Happy to be able to help. You raise some good questions. First, I understand and respect your opinion that the priorities should be elsewhere. That said - why isn't the $344K going to offset the school operating budget - the $344K is "one time" revenue, whereas the school operating budget is an annual expense. The Town has a financial policy not to use one time revenue for operating budgets, because that leads to problems down the road - in other words, if we use the $344K to help fund the schools this year and lower the tax rate (or use the money elsewhere), that means we need to "make up" the $344K next year and the years after that. So since we can only spend this money once, what do we do with it? The stabilization fund is underfunded, which is something the bond rating agencies have criticized us for, so by boosting that we make it more favorable for when the Town needs to borrow money (i.e., potentially lower interest rates) - and, of course, we have a better rainy day fund to protect the Town. On a positive note for the tax rate - there is some exempt debt coming off the books this year from the Martha Jones and Downey School projects, which was the result of Prop 2 1/2 debt exclusions ("overrides") some years ago - whenever exempt debt is retired, that comes off of the tax base, so our taxes will go up less than they otherwise would have under Prop 2 1/2. I'm running out of characters so I'll try to address your school/state aid question in a separate comment.
Mary Masi-Phelps May 07, 2012 at 04:06 PM
On your question about the schools and state aid: If you have it handy (and I hope you'll be bringing it to Town Meeting tonight :)) - refer to the Education Subcommittee report in the FinCom report to the Town (starts on p. 8). The school budget submitted to the Town at Town Meeting is just under $35 million. Most of that ($30.6 million) is funded by the local property tax base, and the remainder ($4.2 million) is covered by state aid (also called Chapter 70 aid). This year's estimated state aid figure is about 10%-11% higher than last year's aid figure was. That, together with available funding from the tax base, was able to support about a 3.3% increase for the total operating budget request. One side note - you'll see references to "offsets" - fees (athletic, kindergarten, lunch, bus), grants, & other "outside" revenue that helps to fund the schools. This type of revenue does not flow through the Town Meeting budget process (that's by state law, not something Westwood controls), but rather it reduces the amount that the schools would otherwise have to request from taxpayers. So the school operating budget requested from the town is around $35 million even though school department spending is close to $38 million. It is important to note, though, that even though they do not go through the Town Meeting process, things like fees are vetted in public by elected officials and are accounted for just as other revenue is. And I'm nearly out of characters again. Hope that helps!

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