Weymouth: ‘Home-stretch’ negotiations for proposed Southfield legislation

Weymouth town officials and Starwood are wrapping up negotiations in the “home stretch” of a six-month process to produce a “final” draft of proposed legislation for Southfield.

However, recent correspondence between Starwood and the town’s attorneys from Burns & Levinson has slowed progress.

Matthew Barry, Starwood Vice President, said they received a counter-offer from the town’s attorneys at 6:00p.m. on Good Friday, that “fundamentally changed the business terms.”

“You got ‘sacked’ because of your response,” Councilor Thomas Lacey said to  Barry at Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting. Lacey continued with the analogy, saying that progress was pushed back from the “3 to the 15-yard line.”

“We responded that the only way to fundamentally change the business terms is for Weymouth to pick up some responsibility,” Barry said, “And we listed 14 things that they could pick up.”

According to Barry, some requests in his response included: water, wastewater, parkway funding, some Navy payments, etc.

“Saying: ‘will you do 18 or so impossible things that we’re not going to do, if no, we’re not proceeding,’… that’s your negotiation tactic going forward?,” Lacey asked Barry Tuesday night.

Barry said they do have a meeting scheduled for this coming Friday morning to meet with Mayor Susan Kay and the attorneys.

Barry added that Starwood has met with Mayor Kay 33 times, and the Town Council 15 times to try and “come to a solution.”

In response, Mayor Kay said Tuesday night that she could spend “possibly an hour with point of clarification,” and she finds Barry’s claim “very hard to agree with,” especially since she has had a lack of involvement in certain discussions.

“I have received an MOA…but there has been no discussion on a document that I’m supposed to sign,” Mayor Kay said, “That is not only irregular, but impractical.”

Councilor Arthur Matthews reminded Barry that there’s only one person in town who can sign the MOA, and that’s Mayor Kay.

Barry said Starwood will continue on as the Master Developer as long as they believe  an agreement with the towns can be reached in time to submit the legislation during this current legislative session.

“The moment we don’t believe that’s possible, we will come, apologize, and look to part ways as friends,” Barry said.

Barry added that Rockland has taken a “less public” approach to negotiations, but the town is fully engaged on a similar level as Weymouth. He added they have not met with the Abington Board of Selectmen in “a long time.”

Town Council President Patrick O’Connor said it is important to come up with a final document the Council and Mayor Kay can vote on.

Mayor  Kay said she will come to a position on the proposed legislation when she is comfortable the town will be kept “harmless.”

“It’s those first five years of deficit. We’re barely balancing a budget now, how do we get over those first five years?” Mayor Kay said, “Until we take care of that issue, I’m certainly not going to condone it.”

According to William McKinney, the town’s CFO, Weymouth is looking at a potential $1.1 million deficit for fiscal 2015 if the legislation passes.

 

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.