Selectboard Minutes 11/02/20

Town of New Salem Selectboard

Meeting Minutes

 November 2, 2020

Held Virtually via Zoom

Convened: 7:00 pm

Present: Randy Gordon, Wayne Hachey, Jean Derderian, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Joe Cuneo, Fire Chief & Emergency Management Director; Jen Potee, Cam Dunbar, Board of Health; David Cramer, Planning Board; Nancy Slator, New Salem News; Bradford Randall, Barznab Khan, Ancient Growth; Judith Northrup Bennett; Bruce Spencer; Jan Doody; Tom Doody; Jackson Goddard; George Perides; Rosemary Lyman; Pete D’Agostino, Tenax; Adam Braillard, counsel for Ancient Growth; Laurie Cardosi

Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:

  • Payroll & Vendor Warrants

Discussion Items

Cooleyville Road Bridge

Randy noted that the Highway Chief was not present for this meeting. Still, those present for this item were invited to speak. Bruce started off by explaining his perspective as to the bridge. To him it is safe to use. He has lived near it for 20 years and watched its deterioration. Still he feels the bridge remains stable. He asked if the bridge has been tested or not. Having the bridge closed has created some difficulties as it forces residents to use the intersection with Rt. 202 which can be hairy. Wayne noted he’s been trying to get DOT to send engineers down to inspect it. His main concern was the walls that hold it up. They’re pretty sturdy but still. It was FRCOG that brought this up while doing a survey for the town. They brought it up as a potentially dangerous bridge. Wayne and the then Highway Chief looked at it and determined it could be a problem for the town if something happened. Potentially liability. Still he’s working to get the bridge corrected. He’s also pursued private engineers, but with the pandemic it has been difficult. That said he should hear back from DOT in the next few days. If we can get something that says the bridge is acceptable for light traffic and winter plowing there shouldn’t be an issue. But it needs to be certified. He then took a moment to note the other bridge on Cooleyville Rd. That bridge is in Shutesbury, but it was agreed by the towns for New Salem to maintain it. He didn’t think that was legal as the bridge is in Shutesbury. Bruce noted there is a third bridge where the boarder is actually down the middle of that bridge. Shutesbury has also done repairs and maintained the entirety of that bridge despite half of it being in New Salem. He cautioned therefore disputing the existing agreements between the towns. Wayne then acknowledged the difficulties for residents to use the intersection with Rt. 202. Bruce thanked him and noted the letter carrier for the Post Office doesn’t like using that intersection due to safety concerns. Wayne expressed hope that FRCOG might be able to help find funding if the bridge needs any substantial fixing. Bruce disputed that there is any actual need for major repairs to the bridge. Wayne submitted if an engineer can agree to that position then he would see no issue with reopening that bridge.

Host Community Agreement for Proposed Marijuana Retail Operation

Bradford started off by briefly recapping since the last meeting when Ancient Growth appeared. They are now back. Adam, Ancient Growth’s counsel, then addressed the Selectboard. He reported on his work with Town Counsel. They have been able to get there on the HCA as of this last Friday. It was therefore submitted that the Selectboard can approve the HCA as currently drafted subject to Town Counsel’s final approval. Jean noted she never received a copy of the final agreement. So she asked that this not be approved at this stage. Randy concurred noting that he has only seen a single document and was uncertain if it was the latest draft. Nancy noted that these have been sailing back and forth and she has asked Town Counsel for the final version. She hasn’t heard back from him as of yet. Adam noted he has the final version but didn’t feel it appropriate to send it over himself. Jean submitted it can still be discussed so that it can quickly be approved at the next meeting provided the Board agrees to it. Adam agreed and proceeded to elaborate on the final changes. A lot of time was spent on this. Most of the changes were small, but most of the more difficult changes where in Section 8 referencing accounting and review. Both sides wanted to ensure that they were getting what they needed to ensure that gross sales were accounted for. This also included audit and other related matters. Nonetheless a resolution was found. Bradford felt that it is perfectly reasonable to have a chance to review the document and thanked the Selectboard for its due diligence. So he asked that this go on the next meeting’s agenda. It was so agreed. Randy noted it was clear that attempts were made to send the file over, but it just didn’t happen in time for this meeting. Wayne thanked Ancient Growth for its patience throughout this process. Barznab then asked about offline communications. Nancy outlined what could occur legally, but cautioned that discussion would have to be very limited in order not to constitute deliberations.

New Radios – Costs & Options for Payment

Joe started off by reporting on some documents he and the Police Chief have sent along. The main thrust of this is that there will be some additional unanticipated costs. There is an existing appropriation that will substantially fund this, but the cost overruns won’t be insubstantial. The projection is an overage of around $8,000. The Town Treasurer has already been alerted as has the Town Accountant. The idea would be to expend the appropriated funds, then use existing department budget lines to fund the overage and then seek end of year transfers to cover or an action at a town meeting if need be. Randy and Jean both noted they had not received any documents from either Chief as to this. Nancy reported on her discussions with both departments and the Finance Committee. These don’t have to be bought right away. Wayne concurred submitting that this will likely straddle FY21 and FY22. So we may be able to cover some with end of year transfers and defer some of the buying until FY22. Additionally, FRCOG is doing its best to find additional funding. Joe noted the bulk of the radio costs are really being born by the Commonwealth. He then went into some detail about how the ordering will be done. The grant funding will have to be expended by end of fiscal year. The pricing otherwise on equipment is good for 3 years. There are also some discounts that incentivize buying sooner rather than later, plus for functionality it’s often best to buy things together. So it’s the radio’s and the accessories for the radios, spare batteries, vehicle chargers, and installation. The Commonwealth will help with the installation costs guaranteeing $300 for each installation. Jean asked for some of the materials prior to any votes or further action. Joe responded that no further votes really need to be taken. It’s more an issue of just alerting the Selectboard to the need to identify funding to cover the overage. The Finance Committee will ultimately have to determine how to go about paying for it. Randy then asked how many radios’ the town ends up with. Joe responded it’s 12 portable radios and 8 mobile radios. Jean asked if the radios will be owned by the town and what happens if one becomes damaged or lost. Joe responded the radios will come with 3 year warranties. The sustainability costs will fall within existing budgets for repair, maintenance, and replacement. Just like the existing radios in use.

Update on COVID-19 CARES Act Round 2 Reimbursement

Nancy reported on the latest request. Sometime in December there will be a reconciliation period to catch up on things not completely billed and the town will continue to move forward.

Update/Snow Removal on Private Roads

Nancy reported on a letter sent out that told people on private roads that they need to have them ready and in shape for plowing. Wayne then reported on work he did with the Highway Chief to assess private roads in town. Michael Lane has clearly been making an attempt to fill in potholes but the soil being used isn’t terribly well suited. Gravel would be more advisable. Most of the other roads are in good shape. Stone Hill Road, just beyond the bridge there is a paved driveway that has a runoff issue that is undercutting the gravel road. That should be looked at. A little trenching could resolve it. He noted a few roads that will need a little work specifically for winter plowing. Steps will need to be taken to ensure that things are in place the way they should be before the road freezes up solid. Laurie then asked about a tree that was fallen near Michael Lane. Wayne responded that it was clearly limbed up. Jan noted that last year there were problems with the towns plow coming down the last part of the road where there are 6 houses. Residents were understandably concerned about plowing. They have worked to mitigate the issues Highway Dept. has had with being able to get down there and turn around. Wayne responded by outlining what he’s seen about this and what Highway Dept. is planning. The philosophy is the same as last year. If the driver plowing determines that the hill is iced to the point of danger for the truck, then they won’t plow there. This being because the truck once sliding would not be stoppable without an outside force. Wayne noted that part of the turning around problem is a shed that was installed. Laurie acknowledged the shed is hers, but also asserted that it’s been there for 5 years and wasn’t a concern until last winter. Wayne noted that while he is pleased all parties are willing to work together, that doesn’t entirely mitigate the concern about the icing and potential for the truck to slide. Laurie interjected to elaborate on work being done by residents to ensure there is sufficient space for turning around. This includes changing how residents park during winter. It was agreed that leaving it to the driver’s discretion makes sense as to the ice concern. Otherwise all parties will do the best they can to accommodate. Tom noted that after last year’s discussions we really didn’t have another snow storm after it to test it. Still it appears that all parties are committed to making this work as best as possible and for that he expressed thanks. Wayne agreed noting that with any luck we’ll have a mild winter.

Fraud Notice Regarding Department of Unemployment Assistants (DUA)

Nancy reported on issues that have arisen with DUA. There are a lot of fraudulent claims. This includes a number of town employees. There is a link that is being sent out to the proper website with DUA to dispute the claim. This will include vigilance by employees on their credit as well as the claims being filed indicate that the fraudsters may have social security numbers and other personal data.

Loan & Green Community Paperwork

Nancy reminded that some loan paperwork needs to be signed by the Board as well as grant paperwork for Green Community.

Emerald Ash Borer

Jackson asked about the current status of efforts by the town noting that he’s been unable to get much of a response from the Tree Committee on this. It was recommended by a member of that committee to him that the town might add a tab on its website about the ash borer and any sightings of it. Wayne agreed to look into the matter and to talk to the Tree Committee. Nancy noted she has reached out to them and briefly reported on what she’s heard from the Tree Committee. They report that Jackson needs to speak to an arborist about the trees on his property. As for a tab on the website, they’ve been working on putting together the resources and materials for it. Randy expressed hope that this can proceed and stressed that Tree Committee needs to be involved in this as it is really their purview and expertise.

Minutes

The Selectboard considered the minutes for October 5, 2020 and October 19, 2020. It was agreed to table the minutes from October 19 and to approve the minutes from October 5 as written.

A motion was made by Jean to approve the minutes of October 5, 2020, as written. The motion was seconded by Wayne and passed unanimously.

A motion to adjourn at 8:00 pm was made by Jean. The motion was seconded by Wayne and passed without objection.

Respectfully Submitted

Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk