SHIRLEY -- Before wrapping a short selectmen's meeting -- less than 30 minutes -- Monday night, Chairman Andy Deveau introduced the final item on the agenda: train station parking.
With another train station in nearby Ayer, Shirley has staunchly defended the need to retain its whistle-stop train station on Front Street, bisecting Ayer Road, and when talk of consolidating stops at one regional location, such as Devens, has come up, town officials have raised concerns and residents have voiced opposition.
Now, faced with an unusual number of vehicles crowding the Shirley train station parking lot lately, the town apparently wants to revisit its deal with the MBTA, which owns the paved parking lot as well as the tracks and surrounding land on both sides.
The town agreed to maintain 25 parking lot spaces, Deveau said. But a recent count far exceeded that number.
DPW foreman Paul Farrar spotted 133 commuter vehicles parked in the train station lot and elsewhere nearby, spilling out along Ayer Road, in front of local businesses and homes in the village area. Farrar has contacted the town's MART representative about it, Deveau said.
The increased use of the lot in light of recent snowstorms has resulted in complaints about inadequate plowing, Deveau continued.
"Frankly, there's no place else to put the snow," he explained.
"We agreed to clear 25 spots" for a specific fee set by the state agency, he said. But if the current situation calls for clearing a larger area, the agreed-upon compensation is not enough. "It's more than the expected work for the money we're being paid," he said.
The scenario Deveau described was chalked up to the temporary closing of part of the parking lot at the Leominster train station, where expansion is part of a regional improvement project along the Fitchburg line. The work in Leominster is slated for completion by July, administrative assistant Kathleen Rocco said.
In the meantime, commuters are apparently parking all over the place here, and there's no telling what will happen once the Leominster lot is fully operational again, Deveau said. They may return to Leominster or they may continue coming to Shirley, in which case more parking spaces would clearly be needed, beyond the existing 25.
Either way, the town and the MBTA need to talk, he said.
In other business, selectmen issued a driveway permit for a property on Gideon Lane.
The board adjourned into executive session in accordance with MGL c. 30A, Sec. 21 (1). Asked if Berry was on their closed-door agenda, the three members said it was to discuss "personnel matters," but not about Berry, per se. They declined to elaborate further.
Berry, who was hired two years ago to replace a former town administrator fired for "just cause," was asked to resign after a surprise motion made by David Swain and seconded by Kendra Dumont at last week's meeting. If Berry did not resign, Swain said at the time, selectmen would move to fire him.
Deveau voted against the motion.
The deadline for his resignation passed, but Berry, who has a contract with the town, did not resign. He did not attend Monday night's meeting and was not at work that day.