Weymouth: Starwood responds to tri-town’s presentation

Starwood has brought several inaccuracies that the South Shore Tri-Town Development Corporation (SSTTDC) Board of Directors included in a presentation Monday night to Weymouth Town Council’s attention.

When asked if Tri-Town’s presentation has been a “step back” in the process, Matthew Barry, Starwood Vice President, answered “not at all.”

“We’re engaged with the towns,” Barry said, “Tri-Town is making an attempt to slow the process, [and] to confuse the process. We had hoped that they would be positive and participatory in the process.”

In Tri-Town’s presentation, they admitted that they agree with Starwood’s proposed wastewater solution to personally finance a plant. “[It's] a step forward in admitting change needs to occur,” Barry said.

Barry further acknowledged that direct conversation with the towns is the way change will happen.

Barry responded to 11 specific “misstatements” from the presentation. One of them was that the 2010 Infrastructure Assessment Bond Starwood is asking Weymouth to incur the debt of would be a “general obligation” of the town, when in fact, according to Barry, it is a special assessment bond.

“The general obligation is the credit of the town and the town would be obligated to make that payment regardless of revenue,” Barry said, “That is factually inaccurate. A percentage of the revenue is what pays the bond, and if that tax revenue is not received, the town is not obligated to make the payment.”

Several of the Councilors were upset and disappointed to learn of the inaccuracies. Councilor Thomas Lacey specifically said he was “outraged.” He described the SSTTDC as ineffective, with no accountability and a poor track record. “This is just embarrassing,” Lacey said, “I don’t want them in the mix at all.”

Other inaccurate topics according to Starwood discussed in the presentation include: SSTTDC’s high commercial tax rate, Phase II Parkway completion costs, “overdue” payments, and Starwood’s unwillingness to “come to the table” to meet with Tri-Town.

Moving forward, the Council and Starwood will work to solve several ongoing issues that still require solutions, including: commercial zoning and tax rates, and water and wastewater.

Barry said once the legislation passes, they are ready to move forward with water and wastewater solutions.

“We have three solutions,” Barry said, “What has been asked is for us to pick one and move to a contract. That, we do not have time for…we think it would be challenging for us to do and it’s not fair until it’s our responsibility to take on the water.”

Barry added that if the legislation passes, they should have water and wastewater in two years.

Barry also recognized some of the Councilors’ concerns with the effects of an anticipated bond debt on commercial tax rates.

“90% of the development’s in Weymouth,” Barry said, “A small section of that development is subject to this Tax Pledge Bond. The balance of the development is dollar for dollar in tax revenue to Weymouth, and we think they see a profit in year one of $1.2 million, growing to $7 million, and if I’m as successful as I’d like to be, $12 million annually.”

One million dollars annually from Weymouth’s tax revenues would go towards the bond debt, if the town decides to go in that direction.

Mayor Susan Kay will be presenting to the Council next week on information from internal department meetings she has been having. Starwood  is scheduled to meet with the Council the following week on the 24th to continue conversations, and again at a public hearing on the 25th.

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About Samantha Tracey

Samantha Tracey graduated from Salem State University in 2013 with a degree in Journalism. She has been reporting on local issues in a variety of towns: Bridgewater, Abington, Carver, Weymouth, East Bridgewater, Hanson, Halifax, etc. She says growing up on the South Shore has made it interesting now to be covering news in such familiar places.