The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of October 26 to November 2, 2023
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Fall Special Town Meeting

Monday, November 13 -- 7:00 p.m.
Murdock Middle/High School Auditorium, 3 Memorial Drive

Special Town Meeting Warrant (PDF)

List of Unaccepted Roads for Article 15 (PDF)

Last day to register to vote at Town Meeting is Friday, November 3 at 5:00 p.m. The Town Clerk's Office will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. that day (Town Hall, 109 Front Street).

Mount Grace and Mass Audubon Ask Town to Preserve 1400-acre Tract of Land Proposed for Enormous Solar "Campus"

At their meeting on Monday, October 23, representatives from two conservation organizations appeared before the Board of Selectmen to ask the town to exercise its Right of First Refusal in the sale of a tract of land in the northeast quadrant of Winchendon bordering Ashburnham. Steve Rawson, former President and Board member of Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, Aaron Nelson, Project Manager for Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, and David J. O'Neill, President of Mass Audubon, explained their request.

BACKGROUND: In November, 2022, Evan Turner of Aries Power Systems LLC came before several town Boards, including the Board of Selectmen, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, with a presentation for a proposed "solar campus" comprising multiple arrays spread throughout the tract of land (which extends into Ashburnham). At that time, the land had not actually been sold, and Mr. Turner said "big projects like this, and hopefully most projects but especially something of this potential scale, is not something I want people to hear about through the grapevine." The arrays themselves would cover some 900 acres and would total more land area than all the existing solar arrays in Winchendon combined. The only acreage not holding solar arrays would be wetlands. The tract of land includes the route for the principal water main from Ashburnham to the town of Winchendon, which is slated to be completely replaced. For complete coverage of Mr. Turner's 2022 presentation, see "Town Boards Hear Initial Pitch for 1,400-Acre Solar Campus in East Winchendon" in the November 17-24, 2022 edition of the Winchendon Courier.

Mr. Rawson began by saying he'd been a Winchendon resident since the 1970s, and has been involved with Mount Grace for the last 15 years. His wife served as Chair of the Winchendon Conservation Commission. Mount Grace has conserved some 37,000 acres of land in 23 towns including Winchendon. Winchendon's conserved parcels include several working farms, including Sunset View Farm on Rte 140, Farming is Life (formerly Charlie's Redhouse Farm) on River Road, Murdock Farm and Noonday Farm.

Mr. Nelson then took the microphone to "give a little context up top for the Board about how we got here." He continued, "There's an opportunity in front of the town, because the town received a notice in early September from Winchendon Forest LLC stating that they intended to sell an approximately 1,365 acre property in both Winchendon and Ashburnham--there's about 1100 acres in Winchendon and about 200 acres in Ashburnham--for solar development. And because the property was enrolled in Chapter 61 and solar development would represent a change of use, the town is presented with a Right of First Refusal that it can either exercise in order to purchase the property on the same terms, or it can assign that right to a conservation organization like Mount Grace or Mass Audubon, which is what we're here to talk with you about tonight." [Chapter 61 allows land to be classified as certified forestry land to qualify for a lower tax rate.]

Mr. Nelson went on to explain that "This one of the most special places, I think, in Mount Grace's service region. About 70 percent of it is mapped as critical habitat. It forms pretty much the backbone of the watershed of the headwaters of the Millers River, and Sunset View Lake and Lake Monomonac. There's really amazing wetland complexes that feed into the Millers River that stretch all the way up this property. And in fact, the property or significant portions of the property...are included in the town's target area for acquisition and conservation from the 2015 Open Space and Recreation Plan."

He concluded, "What I am hoping to convey, to the point, is that I think both Mount Grace and Mass Audubon consider this to be one of the best conservation opportunities in the state. And we'd like to present the Board with the option to assign your Right of First Refusal to our organizations to enable us to conserve the property."

The microphone was then yielded to Mr. O'Neill, who explained that Mass Audubon is "a statewide organization working to protect lands primarily for habitat purposes, but also for climate resiliency, carbon sequestration, public access and education programming." It was a significant opportunity when they could protect over 1,000 acres of land at once, especially a parcel with such well-documented natural resources, he said. "So our interest this evening is just making sure that the town understands the options that are available to it, and what Mount Grace's and Mass Audubon's goals would be if the term were to elapse to assign a Right of First Refusal to us."

Mr. O'Neill told the Board that the property had belonged to the Beals family for "many, many years" as part of their family timber holdings. About ten years ago it was sold to a timber investment entity called Conservation Resources LLC, doing business in Winchendon as Winchendon Forests LLC, which is the entity selling the property. "Once the property is firmly under contract, if you will, the seller has to give notice to the town of their intention to sell and the terms of that contract. And that notice was received by the town about three weeks ago, I believe. The purchase price is $6 million, which I think we would all agree is a very substantial amount of money," Mr. O'Neill explained. "So if the town elected to assign their rights to either Mount Grace or Mass Audubon, we would then move ahead with the purchase and sale agreement with the seller and go ahead and purchase the property. We're very fortunate at this juncture to feel like we have significant funding available to us for this type of project."

Mr. O'Neill went on to say that should Mount Grace or Mass Audubon purchase the property, they expected to re-convey the property to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, or Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, for permanent management as wildlife habitat and public access for recreation, as lifetime stewards. Fisheries and Wildlife already has stewardship over most of the land surrounding the property.

Mr. Nelson took the microphone to say, "The specific ask that we have of the Board tonight is not to make a decision about this. Part of the Chapter 61 process, if the Board would like to consider assigning, is to hold a public hearing that will be noticed in advance. So our ask for the Board at this time is just to consider holding that public hearing." The hearing would need to be within 120 days of the Board's notification of pending sale, which was September 3, 2023.

Board member Rick Ward asked if Mount Grace and/or Mass Audubon could raise the $6 million purchase price within the time limit. "We think it's a challenge but not an insurmountable one," Mr. Nelson said. "We feel confident we could raise the money in the required time." Mr. Ward expressed concern that the town could be on the hook legally if the agreement falls apart, because the town exercised Right of First Refusal and then assigned it to third parties. The Board agreed to have Town Counsel look at the proposal. The town has the full 120 days just to make a decision, during which time public hearings can be held.

Following this discussion, Cliff Scher of Longroad Energy and Evan Turner of Aries Power Systems LLC rose to speak about their plans for the property.

Mr. Scher explained that Longroad Energy is "based in Boston and have been in business since 2016. The core team has been working together for 20 years. We own and operate projects all over the country, including many projects in the Northeast. And we actually have a strong history of conserving land and pursuing other environmentally friendly approaches with our projects all over the country, that includes everything from conserving thousands of acres in the area of one project, to being awarded a groundbreaking certification for incorporating pollinator habitat around one solar farm. And what's interesting to me and exciting to me about the opportunity here in Winchendon, is because it's an opportunity to develop solar but also to find other uses, whether it be conservation or looking at other priorities for the town for the other two thirds of the property that we're looking to purchase. So it's really exciting in that it's kind of a win-win to pursue both solar and conservation, and I think that's really going to be important in helping the Commonwealth reach its renewable energy goals. So it's a pretty unique opportunity here."

Board Chair Audrey LaBrie asked just how much of the acreage would be solar fields. Mr. Turner said "we don't know where the actual wetlands are," along with other "moving variables." However, he guesstimated that probably one third of the acreage would be impacted, with arrays on two thirds of that area, so possibly one quarter of the total would be arrays. (In November, 2022, Mr. Turner told the Board that surveys for wetlands were slated for summer of 2023.)

Mr. Scher emphasized that they're in the preliminary design phase, and were looking to utilize about one third of the property, with two thirds remaining for conservation or timber management, and wildlife corridors throughout. "We really see this as an ongoing constant conversation about what the town's priorities are," he said.

Mr. Turner said that the sellers "own hundreds of thousands of acres. As a company, this is their smallest holding, and they don't sell 200 acres at a time. They sell the package of what they have." The property is about half of the seller's 3,500 acres in Winchendon and Boylston.

Mr. Ward said, "This will be a question probably for the Town Manager if we should have a public hearing on this, because I can see the conservation aspects. But I also think if we have a public hearing the town needs to know what is the financial impact? What do we potentially lose in taxes or revenue from a solar field as opposed to keeping it in a sort of a pristine state? So we need those slides when we go into a public hearing so that the public can see both sides of this issue. And what is the financial impact on the town."

Board Member Danielle LaPointe added, "I think we also need to think about...we don't technically own the land. The town doesn't technically own the land, we just have the right to first refuse it. So I don't think we'd be able to put on any deed restriction. So if we were going to sell it to an entity we have to think about, we're totally giving it up. We'd be giving it up forever. We have no control over the land or how it's used. So it's not saying I don't want to, but it's just a consideration that we have to keep in mind."

The Board agreed to place a discussion of the Right of First Refusal on a near-future agenda, and set a date for a public hearing after the Fall Special Town Meeting on November 13.

7th Annual Youth-Led Prevention Conference October 30 at Monty Tech

"Empowering the YOU in YOUTH," the 7th Annual Prevention Conference exploring youth-led prevention programs, will be held in the auditorium at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School ("Monty Tech") in Fitchburg on Monday, October 30 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Refreshments and networking will be at 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. in the auditorium lobby.

Young people are amazing! They know what they need, they know how to talk to each other, and they know how to get things done. When they are empowered to choose prevention programs, they develop leadership skills, organizational skills, and self confidence. They thrive while helping their peers to thrive as well. Come and celebrate your students and students across the region as they share the programs they lead that have young people feeling more connected, resilient, and empathetic. Get inspired to start a new group at your school, try a new event or activity, or learn more about why these programs are changing and saving lives. Learn about the local impact of groups like TAB, SADD, PPAL, LUK Youth Prevention Groups, MOC, HEAL Winchendon, HOPE Squad and others.

Presenters will include students from Monty Tech, Murdock High School, Oakmont Regional High School and numerous youth groups.

There will be supervised "Fall Fest" activities in a nearby classroom space for children grades K-5 during the event; costumes optional.

Registration is required to attend and is FREE. To register, go to

Monty Tech is located at 1050 Westminster St, Fitchburg, MA. For more info, contact or

STM Warrant Articles for Fire Department Salaries Evoke Long Discussions with FinCom

Two articles in the Warrant for the upcoming Fall Special Town Meeting, which involve requests for funding for Fire Department salaries from Free Cash, elicited the largest part of the comments and discussion during the Finance Committee hearing on the Warrant on Tuesday, October 24. Article 6 requests $60,000 to be added to the Fire Department Houseman account from Free Cash to pay for phase one of a Wage Scale Adjustment. Article 7 asks for $126,245 to be added to the Fire Department Spare Houseman Account from Free Cash to pay for additional staffing needed to cover additional emergency calls.

Complicating the Warrant article discussions this week has been the fact that Free Cash has not yet been certified, making it impossible to commit to any expenditures from Free Cash, or for the FinCom or Board of Selectmen to recommend articles involving such expenditure.

In Tuesday's hearing, Winchendon Fire Chief Tom Smith rose to explain the three articles.

Beginning with Article 6, Chief Smith said, "this article is to address the staffing issue that's not just in place in Winchendon. All around the state we've certified probably about three quarters less paramedics this past year over previous years. So we're now competing with not only the private ambulance services that are paying well over $40 an hour for services for paramedics. We're also competing with the area towns. Currently, our firefighter paramedics are [14th in salary level]. With this amount, this would just bring them up to 11th on the list." Chief Smith said that without competitive salaries, they would have trouble keeping paramedics they have, let alone hiring new ones. Templeton and Athol have advertized for months before they found "even a semi-decent paramedic to apply."

Chief Smith stated that "Without the paramedics we'd be hiring in basics. Without the paramedics we're not providing the advanced life support." He also expanded, "Not only does it not provide the service to the community, which is the ultimate responsibility of the department, right off the bat. That's the most important factor. However it also affects the income for the following year's Free Cash. It affects the additional Medicare monies and funds that we get at the end of the fiscal year from Medicare. It affects a lot of the revenue also. So although it's adding monies onto the salaries, it's an investment into keeping the monies coming into the town."

Finance Committee member Dr. Maureen Ward asked why the funding wasn't included in the regular budget.

Chief Smith explained that when the budget was prepared last year, private ambulance services had not implemented their salary increases, which changed the situation. "I want to make sure I emphasize, this is a need of the administration on my side, and on the administration side. Obviously the paramedics that are full time, they want to get paid more, but this is my need just so we can keep the paramedics here in town. This isn't necessarily a want of them. This is a need for us to keep the service that we have." Dr. Ward said, "I don't question the need. I question using Free Cash because in our policies on general fund, Free Cash should only be used for non-recurring emergency expenditures. And this would be a recurring expenditure. When I look at the past year it's like your overtime, you've exceeded overtime every year, and we find the money within the budget or we transfer in. So why aren't we putting this $60,000 in the budget and transferring at the end of the year?"

Chief Smith stated that he's concerned about losing existing paramedics before the spring. Dr. Ward said, "I mean you don't wait till spring to implement it, but we wait to spring to pay for it, because we can use other monies in the budget. We transfer all the time." Chief Smith stated that he needed to implement the adjustment right away. "So what you're saying is it's an emergency, basically," Dr. Ward said, and Chief Smith said yes.

FinCom Chair Thomas Kane said, "So what I understand is that the Fire Department has a contract and in an effort to retain help, the administration took the initiative to develop a new contract. Is that a fair statement?"

Chief Smith stated that they have not developed a new contract. The Fire Department was putting this forward to be as transparent as possible about what they're having to pay staff. "In the past we've changed on per diems and that to try to work with filling different shifts," he said. "This is a totally different animal, trying to retain and keep them from going elsewhere. We can only go so long with convincing the paramedics to stay with the department because they got a great chief. It doesn't pay their bills, unfortunately. So we do need to try to work on that to keep them."

Asked how the $60,000 broke down, Chief Smith explained that it came to about an additional $2.50 per hour. He figured the amount based on his calculation of hours remaining in the fiscal year, including holiday time and overtime at time and a half. His own pay was not part of this request; it was calculated for the ten full-time paramedics, at about $6,000 each.

Mr. Kane said it wasn't good financial practice to use one-time monies for a continuing cost. In essence, the town was voting on a pay increase that wasn't in the budget, without having a chance to vote on whether they wanted to increase these costs going forward. "You'd be using Free Cash in making an adjustment to the budget, but it's not the budget they voted on," he said. "It's a concern that we are moving ahead and dealing with something like this in the context of just your need, not the overall needs of the town. That's what our managers are for, is to put together a budget that tries to address all of the emerging needs in a comprehensive budget."

Chief Smith said he understood, but no one could have forecast the pandemic, or the fact that they were "now losing so many certified paramedics that have just basically put their hands up and said we're done." Mr. Kane said that none of them had forecast the shortfalls in every department--"the school department can't find teachers and they can't find aides and we haven't been able to find experienced key positions in Town Hall. None of us saw it coming. And we're all trying to struggle with it." The town needs a comprehensive plan to deal with it.

Asked whether the additional expenditure could be recovered through billing for ambulance services, Chief Smith said that in the past year, they'd increased ambulance revenue by approximately $145,000 to $150,000, partly because they'd had a fourth person on shift. He was always open to increasing revenue, and the department was projecting about $81,000 from Medicare this year instead of the $62,000 received last year. However, he explained, this was because the department could keep service at ALS, or Advanced Life Support, level rather than BLS, or Basic Life Support.

With ALS, he explained, paramedics could administer advanced care, such as cardiac drugs, in the ambulance. BLS is essentially a transport to the hospital. ALS beings a fee of about $2,300 while BLS brings a fee of about $1,000. But it brings nothing at all if the call has to be transferred to another community which has an ALS ambulance available. "There's a large difference in what level of care we can transport, again, with the patient care being our primary concern," Chief Smith said. With BLS, "We're only transporting at a basic level and we're not being able to administer the cardiac drugs they may need. We're not able to administer a lot of the pain medications that they may need and we're just basically picking them up and scooting to the hospital as quick as we can." The difference between ALS and BLS is the number of paramedics available to staff the ambulance.

Moving on to article 7, Mr. Kane asked what the "Spare Houseman Account" is.

Chief Smith explained that the Spare Houseman Account is a per diem part-time salary account that has allowed the department to have a fourth person on shift, outside of the deputy's working hours. Up until July 1 [the start of the new fiscal year], this position was covered by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Since then, there have been three people on shift. "Just in [the first quarter of FY24] alone, I believe it was 44 calls we had simultaneous calls, losing 20 of them to other agencies because we didn't have the staff for that second ambulance call," he said. This has meant the department billed about $43,000 less in the first quarter of this fiscal year because they lacked the fourth staff member on shift.

This would not be a recurring cost, it would cover the rest of the fiscal year until the next budget. It would not involve overtime, but would be strictly a per-diem position.

"If we don't have our second ambulance crews to transport, the patient's waiting 20 to 25 minutes for an ambulance to come from another community to their medical emergency," Chief Snith said, "and then another 10 minutes on scene and another timeframe whether they've gotta go back to Gardner then or to UMass and we're quickly reducing the health benefit on taking care of that patient. I think we like doing it with that much time and my goal would be in a year to give no calls mutual aid to another town."

Mr. Kane asked about the apparent need for more full-time positions in the department, saying that they raised it from seven to ten full time firefighters a few years ago and now it looked like they needed fourteen fulltime positions, and were covering the shortfall with per diem part timers. Chief Smith responded that call volume is going up by 200 calls per year.

"We're not even close to the national standard on what we should be having on shift for firefighters," Chief Smith said. "And I'd be laughed off the stage if I asked you for what we should be adding. Because when you look at what the national standards they want us to have with our call volume, we'd be having seven-eight full timers on at a time to staff a full engine and a ladder going out the door, to staff the ambulance, plus an engine on motor vehicle accidents. I'm somewhat of a realist and I just couldn't ask for that. So what I'm trying to do is to step the town towards what we currently need to have to do our day to day, while at the same time giving something that's remotely palatable so that we're not asking for five, six additional firefighters."

Mr. Kane said, "We're going to be spending reserved money to provide a service that's either going to end or is going to become part of the regular budget. I'm sure you'd hope it would become part of the regular budget."

Chief Smith responded, "Absolutely. And I feel that with the documentation in the call volume increase and with the revenue increase, I feel I can show you that it should become part of the regular budget at the end of the year, but to try to do it now to try to get that additional. If we go the year in between and consistently lose nearly $44,000 a quarter, that affects not just my budget, it affects the police budget, affects the DPW budget because that's revenue that is a loss to the town."

Dr. Ward raised some questions about staff scheduling in the department, saying they were "making a 14 person schedule for a 10 person crew, so something has to give. So maybe between now and next budget season we can look you can look at how you schedule folks and see if there's some way of doing it that makes it a little more palatable for during the day to at night with whatever if you look at your call, and I can help because I've done spreadsheets from 2020 to 2023. From the hours the numbers the number of ambulance calls, the number of personnel, how many minutes on each call, I've got it all. Also some times during the day, certain times of the morning commute, evening commute, more accidents, you need more folks, but there are sort of spaces where it's there's a lull."

Chief Smith described how the departments worked together, and how a firefighter responded to one structure fire call without backup. A civilian assisted him with the hose, and fortunately there was nobody inside the building.

"I appreciate you fighting for you," Dr. Ward said. "It's just like, we look at the whole thing."

Trick or Treating

Tuesday, October 31
5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Voters Will be Asked to Approve Accepting Almost 20 Roads as Public Ways at Fall STM

At the Fall Special Town Meeting on November 13, voters will be asked to approve accepting a number of roads in the town of Winchendon which are still unaccepted private ways for a variety of reasons, and making them public ways. In some cases, the roads are part of subdivisions in town that never were formally recorded. Other roads are simply loose ends that have never been accepted, some going back decades.

This does not obligate the town to do any immediate changes to the roads, such as widening or paving, Department of Public Works Director Brian Croteau explained to the Board of Selectmen at their meeting on Monday, October 23. All the roads will be accepted "as designed." They vary in width from 20 feet to 27 feet. "Some of the roads are in need of immediate repair," Mr. Croteau admitted.

"This was done so that we can clean it up. Never have to address common roads again" such as the situation several years ago with Mellen Road, Mr. Croteau stated. "So this doesn't mean that these roads are receiving any treatment next year. This means that these roads go in with with the remainder of the town roads and are evaluated with the same process of the other roads. You look at Hapgood Road, as the plan was submitted in 1988. So that road's probably been there since the early the early 90s. So you know you're talking roads that have been in place for 30 years, some a little less or a little bit more."

The roads will be plowed and treated in the winter and otherwise maintained. Adding the roads increases the amount of Chapter 90 funding the town is awarded from the state. "Chapter 90 is paid based off of employment status, mileage and a couple other factors," Mr. Croteau said.

Hapgood Road, Prentice Circle, King Phillip Way and Converse Drive are part of the Winchendon Heights subdivision off of Ash Street and are on a plan dated November 17, 1988.

Maple Place B is only 141 feet long and is next to Maple Place A which was already accepted. They are on a plan dated October 2, 1964.

Chase Lane and Phyllis Road are part of the Sandy Heights subdivision between Main Street and Royalston Road South. Chase Lane is on a plan dated August 27, 1993 and Phyllis Road on a plan dated November 16, 1988.

Loon Road and Blue Bird Road are part of Benjamin Hill Estates, off of High Street just below Old Centre, and are on a plan dated December 24, 1986. Mr. Croteau explained that the two main roads of that neighborhood, Cardinal and Eagle, were accepted for funding but for some unknown reason, these shorter roads were left out.

Wendell Drive is an unpaved 420-foot-long road off of Maple Street, on a plan dated July 9, 1985. There are no plans to pave it at this point.

Sunny Cove Road is off of Beachview Drive on Lake Monomonac, on a plan dated February 10, 1958. Mr. Croteau said, "There was future plans for a larger development up there but never came to fruition. These roads that were created were never recorded. This will get recorded correctly."

Summer Drive, which appears on a plan dated February 9, 1974, has come to some prominence recently. "So this one's pretty interesting," Mr. Croteau said. "This took a little research to figure out. Summer Drive, which is the section by Goodspeed, the bowling alley and Doody Vault used to be called Elm Street. For some reason we changed the road to Summer Drive. So in order to record it correctly in today's time because of the current name, this paperwork has been filled out in order to bring it to current status."

Board member Danielle LaPointe asked whether the town might then be liable for any construction costs, or damage, related to the work Bull Spit Brewery is doing. Mr. Croteau responded, "That's all on them because that's all private property. There's a right of way to the right side of the bowling alley, where the gate is. That's 100 percent all private right up to the road. So we own nothing in that area. So we would only accept the road that's currently there now." He clarified that in fact, the road is already accepted by the town, but it was accepted under a different name. This action brings the records up to date. "In 1974, the next chapter 90 process wasn't quite as elaborate as it is now," he said.

Shady Glen Terrace is a road off of Lakeview Drive on Lake Monomonac, also on the February 24, 1958 plan. Mr. Croteau said, "There's a couple of houses out there. That was slated for more expansion that didn't happen. That road's been there since the 60s. We've never been able to collect funding on it, nor have we been able to repair it. So there's more than one house. So it'd be right to accept it."

Jefferson Avenue is a 336-foot-long road across from the fire station, on a plan dated June 6, 1966. Mr. Croteau said, "This would basically take the road, put it on Winchendon's tax map, as we're currently servicing the road now with plowing and salting, so we'd be able to fix it up and do repair in the future."

Hillside Drive is part of a longer road on Lake Monomonac, shown on a plan dated February 27, 1958. Only 330 feet of the road is included to be accepted because the rest is a "ghost road" that was never actually built. Mr. Croteau said, "It's part of a larger subdivision that never happened. This is the piece of the subdivision that was finished. You have multiple homes up there. Again it makes it so that we can service it." Hillside Drive is up the hill off Lakeview Drive.

Commercial Drive is the industrial park off of Rte 140/Gardner Road, where Mylec is, across from the Irving gas station. It is getting some attention because a large marijuana growing facility has been planned there. Mr. Croteau clarified, "We only maintain the road up to the cul-de-sac. So if they decided that they're going to put a private drive in and build that marijuana facility where Mylec's parking lot is, we don't service any of that. We only plow and maintain the existing road there because we have utilities up there...because we need to have access to it. So we're not plowing any private roads up there, if there's future development that's on them."

Ms LaPointe mentioned other unaccepted roads--Goodrich, Joslin, Raymond, Washington, Beachview, First and Ingleside--asking "what the hold-up is" and why they weren't also being accepted at this time.

Mr. Croteau explained, "There's no paperwork in the registry deeds. So these other roads have subdivision plans or a pre-existing road plan. Those roads that didn't have anything for them. So in order for me to fill out the form that's going to Town Meeting, I'm not able to fill it out fully. So we want to do some more research. I wanted to get the core of what we have done and come back hopefully in the spring for those remaining roads. But it may mean that we have to do boundaries or we have to do some more work for the town which would require some out of pocket money. I don't want to put something in front of you unless I know I'm 100 percent sure that we're able to do it and do it legally."

The remaining roads on the list each have their own convoluted histories. Ingleside was private before it became part of the Community Park. No layout plan has yet been found for First Street (on Lake Monomonac). Goodrich was extended and the extension was never recorded. Washington Avenue at the end where the last four houses were built was never recorded. "There was no plan on that either. So I'm hoping I can reach out to the person that owns those houses down there and see if they have a plan because that would be helpful if we can come up with something," Mr. Croteau said. Raymond Road, off of Rte 140/Gardner Road just north of Cornerstone Church, has two houses on it and no records online.

"Joslin Road [off of Mill Glen Road and Hitchcock Road with a trail in the middle], if you read the file, it's pretty thick," Mr. Croteau said. "They brought it before Town Meeting. Then they took it away from Town Meeting and then they brought it to Town Meeting and they took it away and they didn't vote on it. So there's no great layout in place. I'm hoping to reach out to some of the people that live down there to find the appropriate layout to make sure that we can record that and record it correctly. And I don't want to record something unless we know we're good. There are other avenues which we've taken or this Board's taken in the past which if push comes to shove we can explore that. But I'm trying to do it through the correct process as much as we can."

Ms. LaPointe said she just didn't want to see those roads be forgotten. "They're not going anywhere. I have my engineer on it," Mr. Croteau said. "We just have to hunt it down, but we're in a time sensitive situation at this point" with Town Meeting happening in just a few weeks.

Voters need to approve accepting roads as public ways by a two thirds majority, unless the roads are part of a subdivision approved by the Planning Board, in which case only a simple majority is required.

Click here to see the complete list of roads for Article 15 (PDF).

Winchendon Community Hub and the United Way Team Up for Fall Food Drive

The Winchendon Community Hub is teaming up with The United Way of North Central Massachusetts for the Fall Food Drive, "Gathering to Give: Harvesting for a Cause," from October 1 to December 12, 2023, and we need your help! Goods will be distributed December 12 and 13. You can help feed those in need by donating packaged stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, gravy, vegetable oil or rice.

Winchendon donation boxes have been set up at:

Winchendon Town Hall, 109 Front Street
Fidelity Bank, 1 School Square (by Clyde the Rocking Horse)
Cornerstone Church, 122 Gardner Road (Rte 140)
Clark Memorial YMCA, 155 Central Street
The Winchendon School, 172 Ash Street
Not Just Produced, 290 Central Street

A big shoutout to our incredible partners who are making this possible!

Let's make a difference together as we continue the drive until December 12. Remember, all your generous donations will stay right here in our community and directly benefit the Community Hub.

Beals Library Teen GSA Beginning in November

The Beals Memorial Library will launch its Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA) for LGBTQIA+ teens aged 13 to 18 on Wednesday, November 15 at 4:30 p.m., at the library. November's topic will be "Identity" and will include an activity making DIY Name/Pronoun pins.

The BML's GSA is a safe space for teens to meet, exchange information, receive support, socialize, build a community, and talk about issues and concerns related to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Teens of all backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities are welcomed and affirmed.

For more information, contact the library at 978-297-0300 or

Subway November 2022 Catering deals

Central Mass Tree

Stone Ladeau Funeral Home

Be sure to check out our Classified and Employment Ads on the Events Page!

Businesses Wanted to Participate in "Cookie Crawl"

Winchendon Parks and Recreation is seeking local businesses to participate in their first ever "Cookie Crawl" on Saturday, December 2 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Businesses would provide a homemade (or baker-bought is fine also) holiday cookie free to anyone with a ticket. You can also offer other refreshments such as cocoa or cider if you wish. This event will bring people into your business and build community partnerships while spreading holiday cheer.

If you would like to participate in this event and be put on our map, please email

Participant Tickets can be picked up at the Holiday Craft Fair from Parks & Recreation.

Troy Laundromat

Click Here for Community Directory

Winchendon Businesses, Organizations, Services, and Government

Youth Voices Free After School Program

Open to all 5th Grade Students
Thursdays 3:15-4:30 p.m. October 12 through December 14
At Winchendon Works Community Hub, 5 Summer Drive
Registration Required
Not a School Sponsored Event

Valuing Our Insights for Civic Engagement Curriculum (VOICES) is designed to bolster local youth leadership development. This curriculum specifically offers participants the opportunity to explore their identities, their communities and their ability to make changes as leaders. Facilitators will establish a group atmosphere so that participants' beliefs and privacy will be respected. Snacks and Gift Cards for all participants!

For more information email: or call 978-297-1667. To register go to:

Hiking Club on Starting on Saturdays

f you enjoy walking the North Central Bike Path and you are looking for a more challenging walk, join the Toy Town Trekkers!

The Winchendon Parks & Recreation Commission is starting a hiking club on Saturday, September 30 at 9:30 a.m. at The Winchendon Community Park. We will hike the park's woodland and meadow trails and plan other local hikes for the month of October.

Our goal is for residents to enjoy the many hiking opportunities our town has to offer. We hope you join us on the following Saturdays at the Winchendon Community Park at 9:30 a.m.

October 28 (last walk for the season)

Singers, Dancers and Actors Needed for the Renaissance Fair!

Looking for residents or community members interested in singing and/or dancing the Renaissance way for our first ever Wyndonshire Renaissance Faire coming April 27 and 28, 2024 at the new Amphitheater on 86 1ngleside Road, Winchendon MA.

Looking for Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass voices.

Songs will include some typical Renaissance numbers, rounds in three parts, rollicking, rowdy pub numbers and a shanty or two. To be set in a Renaissance pub type atmosphere where you will be acting silly and tipsy. (For an example,see a video I shared on the Wyndonshire Ren Faire Character Guild Facebook page)

Dances include traditional Renaissance dance which are mainly simple repetitive steps, set to traditional music. We will also be looking to cast Maypole dancers.

Auditions to be held Wednesday, November 8, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium at Beals Memorial Library.

Join us and be part of the Fun!

Please email Jacque Ellis at with any questions.

Winchendon Lions are Starting a New Year!

Our first meeting will be on Tuesday, September 19 at the Winchendon American Legion Post 193, 295 School St., downstairs hall, 7:00 p.m.

Meetings are on the third Tuesday of each month, September - June. Dues are used for all Administrative cost, which is why we can say "All money received through fund raisers go back to the community, eye research, or other natural disasters around the world!"

Feel free to join us and try it out. We would love to see you! If you have any questions feel free to call Joni 978-297-2753. Please leave message if no answer!


Ingleside Woods Disc Golf Course Now Open!

The Ingleside Woods Disc Golf Course at the Winchendon Community Park (86 Ingleside Drive) is now open to the public. This friendly 3-hole course, which is situated in the woods of the Winchendon Community Park, is meant to be fun and challenging for players of all types. The entrance to the course can be found across from the parking lot, and is marked with a sign. We hope you and everyone that you bring enjoy.

Without this small community of people, this volunteer project would not have made it to this point. With that, this is just the beginning of our disc golf adventure, as we are working to finalize a design for 18 holes. The hope being we will have another half dozen completed by the end of the year. Additionally, we will be working with the Beals Memorial Library and Disc Golf 978 to establish a "disc rental" program so new players can try the sport without having to buy discs. More info to come in the coming weeks.

As you enjoy this course and the property as a whole, remember the general rules of disc golf: respect each other, respect the environment, teach one another and above all else, have fun!

Need a Ride to a Medical Appointment, but You're Not a Senior? The CAC Can Help!

In partnership with the Winchendon Senior Center the Winchendon CAC will provide Winchendon Residents under 55 medical rides! Rides will be available Monday - Thursday between 8:30am and 4:00pm. We need you to provide us with a minimum of a one week notice in order for us to facilitate this ride! Appointments need to be located in the North Central Mass area. Reminder, you will be responsible to provide a car or booster seat for any babies or toddlers required to use them. Use this form to request a ride:

FY 23 Senior Tax Work-Off Applications Now Available!

Once again this year, we are pleased to announce the Senior Work-Off program was approved at our Annual Town Meeting. The Senior Work-Off Abatement Program is a program allowing the Town of Winchendon the opportunity to utilize the knowledge and skills of its senior residents in exchange for credit toward the resident's property tax bill. The purpose of this program is:

  • To employ qualified senior citizens who will apply their earnings toward payment of a portion of their property taxes;
  • To increase senior citizen involvement in local government; and
  • To enhance municipal service by using the skills of resident senior citizens.
Qualified and income-eligible residents will accrue the Commonwealth's minimum wage per hour ($13.50/hr) toward a maximum credit of $1,100.00 per household during the fiscal year. The criteria for this program is:
  • You must be 60 years old or older
  • Homeowner in Winchendon and occupy property
  • Annual income below $40,150 if single; or below $45,900 if married.
Applications for the program are now available in the Town Manager's office or on the town website, and will be accepted until the eight slots are filled. There are different types of positions that are available depending on the preference and qualifications of the resident and the needs of each department. Types of past and current positions have been: Custodial services, clerical help for both School & Town, library aides, Senior Center aides, cable station operator, Bike Path clean up, painting, light outdoor work and classroom volunteers. Click here for more information and a downloadable application.

Senior Center Seeking Food Donations

We've been so successful we need your help. We love helping our seniors, so now our Food Pantry is running low. If you can do it, we'd love your help replenishing it with such commodities as: Hormel 'Compleats' meals; Chef Boyardee ravioli, spaghetti & meatballs, etc; applesauce; canned vegetables; juice boxes; Ensure; spaghetti sauce; Cookies; Crackers; small (individual) packages of cereal, etc. And anything you think would help. Thank you very much! Bring donations to the Old Murdock Senior Center, 52 Murdock Ave., Winchendon.

Town Committee Vacancies
as of October 23, 2023

If you'd like to be an active participant in decision-making and management for your community, consider joining a town committee or board. There are a number of vacancies currently open.

Communications Committee - 3 vacancies
Cultural Council - 9 vacancies
Fence Viewer and Field Driver - 1 vacancy
Historical District Commission - 3 vacancies
Library Board of Trustees - 1 vacancy
Zoning Board of Appeals - 3 alternate member vacancies

If you'd like more information about any of these positions or are interested in being considered for an appointment, contact the Town Manager's office at 978-297-0085, or send a letter to Town Manager, 109 Front Street Dept. 1, Winchendon MA 01475.

Complete description of each committee's responsibilities, updated for May 10, 2021 (PDF).

Winchendon Works Community Hub Holiday Basket Sign-up

Are you a Winchendon family currently experiencing financial hardship? If you are and are interested in registering for holiday food baskets and/or gifts, please complete this form by October 31:

If you have any questions, please reach out to the Winchendon Works Community Hub, 5 Summer Dr., 978-297-1667.

WPD Offering RAD Self-Defense Class for Women

The Winchendon Police Department will be offering a R.A.D (rape aggression defense) class starting in November 2023. Free to all women.

No prior experience is needed as we will teach basic skills that can be applied by everyone. Class size is limited to 20 so sign up early with a dispatcher at the Winchendon Police Department.

Dates: November 27-29, December 4 and 6

Attendance to all four classes is required for successful completion. Age requirement is 14 years old accompanied by an adult/guardian with a signed permission slip.

Time: 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Location: The first class will be held at the Winchendon Police Department in the training room. The remaining classes will be held at the Memorial School in the gym.

Any questions can be directed to:
Officer Tracy Flagg
Officer Jim Wironen

Do You Want a Fresh Financial Start?

Up to $500 of match funding towards a specific goal upon course completion!

For more details go to our website at

If you are interested in being considered for this program please fill out the interest form and someone will get back to you.

Informational meeting on Wednesday, November 1 from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. at the Winchendon CAC, 5 Summer Dr.

Sign Up for Fall Dek Hockey!

Fall league sign up for Dek Hockey begins Wednesday, September 13 at 6:00 p.m. at Mylec National Dek Hockey Center, 37 Commercial Drive, Winchendon (off Rte 140 across from Irving gas station). For more information, call 978-297-0088 or email

Winchendon Parks & Recreation Seeking Volunteers and Sponsors

Winchendon Parks & Recreation is seeking volunteers to help out with upcoming events at the Winchendon Community Park.

Volunteer tasks may include working the gate to check tickets, helping with parking, helping with games and refreshments, setting up tables, signs, and equipment and taking them down at closing, and more.

To learn more and volunteer, email Recreation Coordinator Tiffany Newton at

Meanwhile, the 2024 Sponsorship Packet is ready with all of the offerings for 2024. If you or your business would like to sponsor at any level, please review this packet and fill out the Sponsorship form at the end to send in with your generous sponsorship. Giving back to our community is a worthwhile cause but, on top of that there are so many ways to get your business noticed by sponsoring with Winchendon Parks and Recreation, just take a peek.

The 18-page Sponsorship Packet includes detailed information about levels of sponsorship, 2023 events, how events are promoted, a tentative schedule of events for 2024 and an application form. You can download the packet here:

2024-Season-Sponsorship-Packet.pdf (PDF)

Fresh Box is Here!

Healthy Meal Kits for Local Families

The Winchendon and Gardner CACs are both recipients of the biggest coordinated local produce distribution effort our region has ever seen thanks to Growing Places. With a Local Food Purchase Assistance USDA grant administered by the MA Department of Agricultural Resources, Growing Places (GP) and regional partners have launched a year-long program distributing free boxes of produce ($40 and $50 value) weekly. GP will pack and distribute 212 boxes weekly, with 80 going to Gardner and Winchendon CACs! This equates to about 2,000 pounds of local produce JUST to Winchendon and Gardner every week! Farmers are receiving retail prices for their produce, making this a huge win for our region's food economy and our residents. To sustain this boost in the local food system, HEAL partners will work to transition box recipients to GP's SNAP/HIP-eligible home-delivered produce program. All box recipients will receive a sheet on the benefits of buying local, a recipe, SNAP/HIP information, and a CSA enrollment form.

Toy Town FYIs

Transfer Station Hours

As of October 1, 2023:
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Thursday 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Friday 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Saturday 8:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m.

653 River Street
Sticker price: $75 ($25 for additional stickers)
Pay-As-You-Throw bags required
33-gallon, $4.25 per bag, 16-gallon, $2.25 per bag
2023-2024 Transfer Station sticker now on sale in Town Hall and at the Transfer Station.

2023 Street Lists Available

The 2023 Town of Winchendon Street List of Residents is now available at the Town Clerk's office in Town Hall, 109 Front Street. Cost is $11.00 each, $8.00 for seniors.

2023 Dog Licenses Now Available

2023 Dog licenses are now available on-line, in person, mail, or dropbox. Spayed and Neutered are $10, Non-spayed and Non-Neutered are $20. Please provide a valid rabies certificate with payment. If purchasing on-line, please email rabies certificate to
After May 1, a $20 late fee will be assessed.
After June 1, an additional $50 failure to license fee will be assessed.

Sign up for Code Red Emergency Alerts
Sign up for our emergency notification program today! Receive up-to-date information before, during and after an emergency in your neighborhood. You can choose to be notified via voice, text and email notifications of emergency and inclement weather alerts. Click the link below for information and sign-up.

Is Your House Number Clearly Visible from the Street?
The Winchendon Fire Department reminds all residents to make sure their house number is clearly visible for first responders who may need to find you. Numbers should be at least four inches high and facing the street, with lighting if possible. Put numbers on a contrasting background so they will stand out. If your driveway is long, put the number on a mailbox or pole on the street or at the end of driveway, facing in both directions. (Reflective numbers are helpful.) Check your house numbers to make sure foliage has not grown up in front of them without your being aware of it.

Report a Pothole to the DPW

You can report potholes directly to the DPW using this form on the town website:

Winchendon Town Hall & Transfer Station Now Accepting Credit/Debit Payments

We are excited to announce that the DPW, Treasurer/Collector's Office and the Transfer Station can all now accept in-person credit and debit card payments. This means next time you need to purchase or pay for:

Trash bags
Transfer station stickers
Excise bills
Tax bills
Water & Sewer bills
And more

You can pay with a credit or debit card! (subject to a convenience fee).

If You Call for Emergency Services...

...the Winchendon Fire Department asks that you let the dispatcher know if you have flu-like symptoms, are quarantined or are under self-quarantine. This will allow the first responders to take all necessary precautions to avoiding spreading COVID-19 and to protect themselves and you.

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