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Guard Up Faces Deadline on Insurance Compliance at East Boston Camps

The Conservation Commission put a deadline of 30 days from their Wednesday meeting for the Burlington-based company to come into compliance with terms specified on their lease for this year and last year.

The Guard Up Summer Day Camp has 30 days as of Wednesday to come into compliance for this year and last year on insurance agreements specified on its lease for the Day Camp at the East Boston Camps.

That was the message sent by the Conservation Commission following a discussion at their last meeting in late July over concerns that the Burlington-based company was not meeting requirements under its lease with the Conservation Commission over insurance.

Members of the board in attendance were unanimous in their concern over the issue, with a 4-1 majority believing that giving Guard Up the deadline was a necessary step to protect the town from possible liability.

Only Robert Boonstra dissented, citing fears that a showdown could potentially disrupt the revenue obtained from the company’s presence at the Camps.

“We’re certainly within our rights to do this. Shame on them and shame on the town for not catching it, but this is not wise,” said Boonstra. “We want to do everything to make the lease a success; this is not a ‘gotcha’ situation.”

However, others on the board believed that unless the potential issue can be resolved, Guard Up’s continued tenancy would not be beneficial.

Members of the audience spoke in agreement with the board’s decision during public comment, noting the insurance issue as well as concerns of if the lease would become revenue neutral and the loss of access to portions of the camp by local residents while Guard Up’s camps are in session.

Westford resident June McMorrow told the board she does not feel safe on the East Boston Camp’s North Road while Guard Up is in session and feared that local residents were being treated as second class to Guard Up thanks to the lease.

Under the lease itself, Guard Up is mandated to provide a five to six figure minimum insurance coverage figure on policies relating to general liability, abuse and molestation liability, property damage, automobile liability, workers’ compensation, and umbrella and excess liability.

A woman coming before the board earlier in the evening requesting to serve alcohol during a wedding reception at the East Boston Camps in September told the board that it cost approximately $320 to obtain a comparable amount of coverage required in the Guard Up lease.

Sam August 10, 2012 at 01:23 PM
I would imagine that based on the public bid process, the town is liable for some sort of grievance by the other bidders. The Cons Com is right by making them cough up the insurance requirements. The concern over lost revenue from Guard Up is irrelevant because we all know this lease program ends up costing way more than it brings in.
PHearing RevenJ August 11, 2012 at 05:20 AM
The members of the Cons Com obviously disagree with you. If "we all know this lease program ends up costing way more than it brings in", then why would Bob Boonstra insist "“We want to do everything to make the lease a success?" Perhaps he meant, he wants to do everything, including >cost the Town more $, >put the Town at risk for lawsuits, and >fail to enforce the terms of the lease. No surprise, considering he was President of the Friends of East Boston Camps not too long ago. He's just doing their bidding to ensure they continue overnight camping on the property. Screw the taxpayers, they should be forced to support the charitable goals of the Friends, and he'll make sure we do. Tom, stop your whining and pay up!
Scootcha Marks August 11, 2012 at 06:15 AM
This is absolute hogwash. Guard Up is one of the safest camps around IF NOT THE SAFEST! The woman mentioned, June, is pissed because Guard Up has a barrier around a one section of their camp ground which just makes people literally walk 5 feet to their right on an already marked path, The Red Diamond Path which connects Stoney Brook and Depot Street. (Guard up also put up caution tape to point out the path). Guard up still allows for public access on all beaches except one. Two out of the three sandy beach waterfronts at East Boston are used, one by GU and one by the DE Camp from 8-6pm, which still leaves the largest and most dog friendly beach (the farthest one away from children and camps) open all day.. The reason the town is asking for this insurance policy to be enacted, which by the by NO other camps have INCLUDING THE WESTFORD DE CAMP on site at EBC, is so that they can either squeeze more money out of Guard up through the new insurance policy or force them out by making them break their longterm lease. This is a mob scam. Think about it, if Guard Up needs this stricter insurance policy, it will no doubt force the camp to make their security perimeter even bigger than now restricting the Red Diamond Path, and as a result this would stop walkers like June and other residents from enjoying the EBC property at all. This decision was a mistake. Shame on the town of Westford. Is this all they are about? Mob Scams and Money?
Vincent DiRico August 11, 2012 at 11:46 AM
"one of the safest camps around IF NOT THE SAFEST" -> I am one of the safest drivers (knock wood) BUT still have to have proper (and beyond) insurance! I think the 30 days was overly generouse, pony up the moolah/insurance (as called out in the lease) or see ya.
Dan D. August 11, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Guard Up submitted a bid to the town's RFP. They knew the insurance requirements, as did the other recipients of the RFP. They knowingly ignored them for 2 years. In The Alternative Reality that is the Real World, a company that signs a contract while not intending to honor the terms of that contract is guilty of signing in bad faith. In that Other World, companies that do that are frequently barred from doing business with the organization that issued the RFP. In other words, Guard Up lied to the CC, and by extension to the citizens of the town. If the CC went ahead and relaxed the insurance terms, like Mr. Boonstra wanted, the town would be open to being sued by other RFP recipients who did not choose to bid, possibly because of the insurance requirements. We have these funny things called "laws" that in place to prevent such shenanigans. I don't think this has much to do with the quality of the camp operation, it has everything to do with willful violation of the agreement. Just for fun, ask the CC members, the BoS, and the town manager for the business plan that shows how leasing out this land for overnight camping will ever break even and pay back all the taxpayers monies that have been and will be spent on this. I've asked, and never received such a plan. I don't think it exists, because it will NEVER show a break even. This is your tax money effectively subsidizing a private enterprise.
Dan D. August 11, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Oops, I got a bit verbose here. Apologies. But, while you're at it, ask the individual CC memebers, the BoS, and the town manager how losing money on these operations, while restricting access by the alleged "owners" (taxpayers who are footing the bill) to a beautiful piece of property is in the best interests of the taxpayers and voters of the Town of Westford. I'd really like to hear that argument played out. The town has eliminated employee raises and is facing an even bigger budget challenge. Although in the grand scheme of things, the CC expenditures are probably small potatoes, any frivolous use of taxpayer monies to subsidize "feel good" private enterprise in these or any other times certainly appear to be irresponsible at best.
Sam August 11, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Hogwash? How about following the law and the rules. I know in the new Obama age we have selective enforcement but this is cut and dry. Guard Up lied and the Town did not enforce.
Alan NH August 12, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Why do we taxpayers have to keep spending so much on the camps to receive so little in rent? And on top of losing money every year, we can't even walk the main road on the property that we own (and we're still paying off our loan). I just don't get it...town departments cry for more funding, teachers are leaving, town hall says we have financial problems today (with worse financial problems on the horizon) but we have enough money to subsidize a private camp company. How can people talk about overrides when we keep spending on what amounts to philanthropy with tax dollars? What gives?
Alisa August 12, 2012 at 05:06 AM
@SM/hogwash: Your post is laced with such misinformation, it's both laughable and pathetic. Regarding safety at the camps, even Megan, the owner of Guard Up, suggested having a police officer monitor for and ticket speeders. Why would she ask for assistance in enforcing the speed limit if there wasn't some kind of safety issue out there? Guard Up willingly signed the lease, creating a legal obligation; they failed to meet it. The issue is cut & dry. Your comparison to the Westford DE camp on site is invalid, as it is not a camp, rather a municipal day program specifically defined differently under state law. Futher, their operation is covered under the Town's insurance. To suggest that stricter insurance might result in less public access to the property is again entirely misinformed. The conservation restriction provides the public a protected right to access the remainder of the property. The size of the camp areas are already defined in a document on file at the Registry of Deeds. Sorry, you don't get to just expand the size of the camps and exclude the public from accessing it. Expecting Guard Up to carry the insurance they already agreed to purchase is not about forcing them to break their lease - they did that on their own. What's most amusing is, even they advise their own client to purchase insurance. See here, http://www.protectmytrip.net/studenttravelplan.asp They might have considered taking their own advice!
Dick August 12, 2012 at 02:07 PM
I can hardly wait to hear what the C.C. comes up with next to explain away this boondoggle operation. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Sam August 12, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Does anyone know who the other bidders were for RFP? I am sure they would be interested in what their competition is up to.
R Gagnon August 13, 2012 at 03:58 PM
GuardUp! signed the lease agreement in bad faith. They knew the level of insurance they were required to carry and mad a conscience decision to skimp on the insurance in order to increase their bottom line. If you believe Wegman when he said they were not aware of the insurance situation, you are buying into the bait and switch scam that is EBC. Wegman knows the business he is in. He knows what a lease is and how to read and interpret it. Everything they have done there in their first two years of occupation of EBC including multiple lease violations and being successful in excluding Westford residents from the area has all been calculated and deliberate actions on their part but not "for the safety of the children" as they continuously imply. They have no problem stiffing the people of Westford and lying to cover their tracks when one person on the ConsCom notices the insurance coverage is lacking. They feel that a limp wristed apology for using a half dozen motorcycles to ride around the camps as part of their live action role play is sufficient to placate those of us who know the rules of use per the conservation restriction document. They have been thumbing their noses at us for two years and plan to continue this game for another three. The town has the opportunity to get this less than honest operation out of our camps. But we still have the likes of Bob Boonstra of the CC and his ilk on the so-called Friends of East Boston Camps applying pressure to keep them around.
R Gagnon August 13, 2012 at 04:10 PM
What a load of Hooey!!! GuardUp signed the lease knowing what was in it then went ahead and violated it. That is the issue. This is not a "mob scam" by the people of Westford against GuardUp. The GuardUp camp operation is pulling off the scam here. They are the ones not complying with the lease agreement. Not the residents of Westford. I don't know who this Scootcha Marks is but I believe it is a shill for GuardUp to come to their defencse if anybody calls them on the lease violations. The entire post above is a perfect example of the dishonesty that we have seen co9ming from GuardUp administration from day one. When they (GuardUp) says "its for the children", don't believe a word of it. What its for is to line their pockets with as much tax payer money as they can. Nothing more and certainly nothing less. Oh, by the way Scootcha Marks, my name is attached to my opinion. Where's yours?
KarenL August 13, 2012 at 04:31 PM
The original RFP is here, see page 7 for minimum insurance requirements: http://westfordma.gov/Pages/Government/WestfordMA_Procurement/procurements/EBCDay-NightCampRFP11-15-10.pdf GuardUp's response is here:, proof of insurance starts on page 42: http://westfordma.gov/Pages/Government/WestfordMA_Procurement/procurements/EBCDay-NightCampRFP11-15-10.pdf They did not provide proof of adequate insurance right from the get go. Why wasn't this addressed then? By either rejecting their proposal or telling them to come back wth an adequate one, that met the terms of the RFP? The other bidder's response, proof of insurance begins on page 23. Don't see Abuse and Molestation insurance here either, but their other insurance meets or exceeds the requirements: http://www.westford-ma.gov/pages/government/FOV1-0004680C/FOV1-0004680D/FOV1-000417C0/documents/EBCMLDCSummerCampProposal.pdf Bidder question responses from Conservation Committee, response to question on insurance (page 12), states that proof of insurance must be provided at time of lease signing. Was it? It couldn't have been, because proof of adequate insurance did not exist. Why was the lease signed? http://www.westford-ma.gov/Pages/Government/WestfordMA_Procurement/procurements/EB22BD~1.PDF GU did not meet the lease requirements, but person or persons on the Westford end, were, at best, asleep at the wheel.
Sam August 13, 2012 at 05:22 PM
We know why. It is the same reason other "in" groups" get by without following bylaws or rules. It sad. I hope the other groups do sue the town and we can put an end to this waste of money.
KarenL August 13, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Sorry, cut/past mistake in link to Guard Up proposal above, should be: http://westfordma.gov/Pages/Government/WestfordMA_Procurement/procurements/2011/EBCGuardUpProposal12-13-10.pdf pg. 42 is still where you'll find the proof of insurance.
June McMorrow August 13, 2012 at 11:42 PM
http://westfordforum.com/forum.php Yes, I know that I talk to much. I have quite a bit to say on this topic. Go over to the Westford Forum under Politics and see what's going on over there.
Meghan Gardner August 20, 2012 at 04:28 PM
At the Conscom meeting, Mr. Wegman publicly apologized on behalf of Guard Up for the unintentional oversight about the level of insurance requirements. Our company is responsible for meeting a high volume of compliance issues and we acknowledged that we dropped the ball on this one. Once we realized this, we worked quickly to try to meet the requirements - both currently and retroactively. However, the policy requirements listed are not provided by insurance companies without a custom policy - which is far beyond the financial means of any company of our size. We will continue to research options and let the Conscom know what we can or cannot do.
Meghan Gardner August 20, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Mr. Gagnon, please be aware that what you have stated in this public forum constitutes libel. You have made unsubstantiated attacks on the intent of Mr. Wegman and the company of Guard Up.
R Gagnon August 20, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Ms. Gardner, For a statement to be libelous, it would have to be demonstrably false. Sorry, all of the documentation and actions of GuardUp support my assertion that GuardUp acted in bad faith. Also, I believe the ConsCom has already told GuardUp what they can and cannot do. They can buy the necessary insurance that they committed to when signing the lease agreement or they can vacate the camps. Seems pretty cut and dry. You cannot bid on a proposal, win it, sign it, then change the terms in your favor. In the real world (as opposed to the world of a fantasy role play summer camp) that would be considered bad faith. Feigning ignorance as GuardUp has doesn't change anything.
Meghan Gardner August 20, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Our actions were not in "bad faith". We provided all paperwork that was requested of us. We made a mistake - as humans are capable of doing - and attempted to rectify that mistake the moment it was brought to our attention. There are many emails documenting this. Your assertions that we lied or purposely deceived ConsCom are false allegations. The statement that we did not meet the lease requirements is true. We admit to this mistake. However, you are throwing accusations around regarding intent that have no foundation and are libelous in nature. We are assessing our options which include trying to comply with the requirements or allowing the termination of the lease.
Meghan Gardner August 20, 2012 at 08:18 PM
There are some additional points that should be covered regarding this issue: 1) Thus far, we have been told by two insurance vendors that the insurance policy requirements for this lease are not only far in excess of industry standards, it is not possible to meet these requirements without a custom policy. 2) The cost of this policy would be in excess of the cost of the lease itself (which is $22,000) for 5 weeks of operation. 3) It seems that none of the other lessees of the East Boston Camps are required to hold the same insurance requirements that are listed in the lease - including the 5th Grade Camp and the Boy Scouts of America. These points do not change the fact that we mistakenly failed to meet the requirements. But they shed some light on the shared responsibility in this matter. We are trying to find a solution that will meet the requirements of the lease. But the lease, as it stands right now, does not seem to be feasible for any organization of our size.
R Gagnon August 20, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Westford is not responsible for GuardUp's mistakes. The fact that GuardUp signed the lease agreement with or without an understanding of the terms of the lease is on GuardUp. We have already heard all these from Mr. Wegman. Seems he was pretty well versed on all the reasons that GuardUp did not have the required level of insurance within a day of being notified of the lease violation. And oh by the way, there was in fact a reportable incident during the 2011 camp season that he just happened to learn of at the very same time the CC put GuardUp on notice. Coincidence? I don't believe in them. You can keep on insisting this was no more than a simple mistake but I, for just one, am not buying it. GuardUp insists on access restrictions for the safety of the kids but fails to carry the required insurance that protects Westford from those same types of problems!!?? And it isn't until GuardUp is called on it that they now say the insurance is cost prohibitive. Do you really think people are that gullible? There is no comparison between Boy Scouts/5th grade camp and a for profit business operation like GuardUp. The town has their insurance and the Boy Scouts have theirs. Those points are totaly irrelevant to the issue of lease violation by GuardUp.
Meghan Gardner August 20, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Mr. Gagnon, All actions taken by Guard Up are public record via emails sent to the ConsCom and reports filed with the state of Massachusetts. You can choose to not believe that this was a mistake - but your public accusations regarding intent are false and inflammatory. We have done everything in our power to correct our mistake. You would prefer to think that we are less than honorable because of your own agenda. I will continue to refute your claims because they are wrong... not because I believe that you will change your mind. You have made your ill intentions towards our company quite clear.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) August 20, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Okay, I think things are getting out of hand here. Closing comments.

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