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Hopedale - Local Town Pages

Selectmen Hesitant to Accept Donation from Litigant for Legal Fees Donor is Plaintiff Number 1 in a lawsuit against the town

By Theresa Knapp
The Board of Selectmen received a $30,000 donation from a resident to help cover “the town’s legal fees associated with the citizen’s lawsuit” regarding the town purchase of land at 364 West Street.
The issue is the donor, Liz Reilly, is one of 10 plaintiffs who filed suit against Selectmen Brian Keyes and Louis Arcudi III (plus the Grafton & Upton Railroad Company, Jon Delli Priscoli, Michael Milanowski, and One Hundred Forty Realy Trust) for allegedly not following guidelines set at an October 2020 Special Town Meeting to purchase 155 acres of land at or near 364 West Street. That suit is still making its way through Worcester Superior Court.
At a meeting of the Board of Selectmen on May 10, Chairman Brian Keyes said he is hesitant to accept a donation “from someone who is litigating against me directly.” He requested the matter be put on hold until after the town election and a third select person is elected. Keyes will also consult town counsel to be sure there are no liability or ethical issues if they accept the gift for the town; he also questions if someone can make a donation to offset legal fees.  
In her letter of April 6, Reilly requested the $30,000 donation be split three ways with $10,000 going to the town’s fire department, police department, and school department. Arcudi noted that, if selectmen could accept the gift, they could only accept $20,000 for fire and police since the school department is a separate entity and would need to receive the donation directly. He also suggested the donation not be tied to any particular lawsuit.
Arcudi said the donation was generous and would go to two departments that greatly need it.
Selectmen will discuss it at their meeting on May 24, 2021.