Town of NewSalem Selectboard
July 2, 2018
Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355
Convened: 7:00 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, chair, Wayne Hachey, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Ken Bright; Ron Lunn, Lovers Lane; Jean Derderian, Historical Commission;
Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:
Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants
Ø Singing of Election Worker Appointment Slips
Consultant Agreement for Municipal Aggregation Program
Nancy reported that the Annual Town Meeting has approved the Selectboard to seek out an aggregation contract for electricity. She made some recommendations on who to partner with on this subject noting the experience of the Town of Wendell. The costs of these partner’s help is recouped via fees to the electricity provider that is ultimately selected, so there is no cost to the town itself. The Selectboard was pleased and agreed to sign the contract.
Representatives to FRCOG
Nancy recommended that the designated representative to FRCOG’s Regional Emergency Planning Committee should be Joe Cuneo who is both the towns Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director. She noted that FRCOG requests that the town also name an alternate and requested the Selectboard consider it. The Selectboard determined Joe would be fitting and so designated.
Maintenance of Lovers Lane and Road to Tennis Court & Overlook
Ron started off by noting he has lived at 17 Lovers Lane for the last 10 years. He then spoke about some of the issues that Lovers Lane has been facing. The road is in rough shape, despite the determined efforts of the Highway Department. Wayne noted that the road probably should be paved for at least a section of it with some culverts added. Ron responded that it clearly was paved at one point in time. Regardless, the road needs maintenance. He conceded that it is likely a nuisance given how much maintenance is required and the frequency it is needed. It isn’t the entire road, just a section of it. Still, 6 houses are on the road and something needs to be done to resolve it. Whether that involves any paving or not, it likely will require a culvert. Randy suggested discussion be had with the Highway Chief about possible solutions to reduce the necessity of maintenance and improve the roads use to those that traverse it. Nancy noted that the road often sees maintenance before Old Home Day, which is pending. Wayne again suggested that a portion or part of the road be paved noting that one of the worst sections of the road is hard to maintain as a dirt road. There was then discussion regarding the access road to the recreation fields and the general state of the tennis courts. Ron noted that the tennis courts need some repairs including replacement of the net, although the fields have been mowed regularly and remain usable for soccer and other events. Randy noted that it appears there has been a lack of use of some of the facilities, like the tennis courts and basketball courts, in recent years which is likely why they have gone a bit unnoticed for a maintenance for a while. Nancy suggested that the Recreation Commission could take a look and perhaps use some funds available to it to do some maintenance. Discussion ended shortly thereafter.
16 Lovers Lane
Ron spoke briefly about the situation at 16 Lovers Lane, noting that many of the issues have persisted for the entire time he’s live at 17 Lovers Lane. Nancy noted that there has been a renewed complaint about the property. Ron reported that what he and his wife have heard from the property owners is that they intended to clean up the property with the plan of selling it. Nancy suggested the property may have already fallen into tax title. Randy inquired generally what the Board of Health has done in relation to the property. Nancy responded that it was last addressed by a prior incarnation of the Board of Health and she would ask the current Board of Health to look into it. Wayne stated that to his knowledge the matter has been moving slowly on tax title in the courts for the last 4 years. He then noted that the town has the authority to deem the building derelict and have it torn down, the problem is the town would have to pay for the expense of tearing the building down. It was unclear if this would fall under the Board of Health’s purview or the Building Inspector as both can condemn buildings, but under different legal schemes. Ron noted that there has, to his knowledge, been an offer to buy the property with the condition that the house be torn down. That provision appears to have stood in the way of any sale. Wayne further spoke about the cost of any demolition which prompted discussion of how the property could be torn down. Nancy agreed to determine where the property stands in Land Court and to consult with Town Counsel about the legal procedure for any action by the town to condemn the property. Randy asked some clarifying questions as to the condition of the property and the history behind it. Ron addressed some of them and spoke briefly about the family that owns the property. The inside of the house is a mess and is likely unsafe. It is unlikely that the house could be cleaned and restored at this point. Randy pointed out the various constraints upon the town and outlined the challenges being faced in relation to this property and others. Discussion ended with Nancy agreeing to talk to the various bodies and officials relating to any action on the property.
Final FY18 Vendor Warrant & Needed Year End Transfers
Nancy reported on the end of year transfers. They would need to be signed no later than July 15th, 2018 as required under MGL.
Website Committee Resignations
A new town website has been professionally designed and gone live. Kathy and MaryEllen are pleased with the website, but have determined it wise to depart from the Website Committee due to the demands of their participation on the Broadband Committee.
Remote Participation in Meetings
Nancy spoke about the rules for remote participation. Any member participating remotely would not count towards quorum and all votes would have to be by roll call. Members also cannot do it solely for convenience. It was decided in Lisa’s absence to table the adoption of a formal policy until another meeting.
Agenda Items for Next Meeting
Randy requested that the prices for cellphones for employees be provided. Some citizens in the town have asked for more information and there is a general feeling that the town is paying too much. Nancy reported that the town is on the Mass State Contract. As of this year, Sprint has signed a new such contract with the Commonwealth so we may be able to get prices down. Randy noted it appears the town is paying several thousand more than it should be per year. Nancy responded that Sprint suggested that the price could drop about $140 per month. Randy then suggested that in relation to cellphones, the town should consider adopting a cellphone policy. Discussion then shifted to appointments. There has been a request for an appointment to the Board of Assessors. Since they are an elected body, the Selectboard will have to meet jointly with the Board of Assessors to make the appointment. Nancy promised to add all three topics to the next meeting’s agenda for Selectboard.
The Selectboard adopted the minutes from June 18th, 2018.
A motion to adjourn at 7:40 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed by majority vote.
Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk