Town of NewSalem Selectboard
October 9, 2018
Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355
Convened: 7:07 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, Wayne Hachey, Selectboard; MaryEllen Kennedy, Kathy Soule-Regine, Broadband Committee; Ken Bright; Mary Anne Palmieri, Friends of the New Salem Library
Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:
Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants
Ø Letter to Town Clerk Regarding Special Election for Selectboard Vacancy
Ø November 2018 Election Warrant
Kathy started off by reporting that the biggest thing that hasn’t yet been announced is that the program that Westfield Gas & Electric applied to has resulted in fruit. The town might get $52,000 dollars a year for the next 10 years. This would be from the FCC to help pay for the building of the broadband network. Westfield Gas & Electric did all of the work for free, which was huge given how beastly this process was. Wayne asked if this was form the Net Neutrality settlement. Kathy responded that it was. She further noted that the town doing fiber was an advantage. Towns like Royalston that are pursuing wireless have not fared as well in this program. MaryEllen then updated on an opportunity she had to speak at a roundtable event with Governor Baker. The program was heavily focused on Westfield Gas & Electric and their hard work. Lieutenant Governor Polito was there as well and demonstrated that she remains heavily committed to broadband. Meanwhile, Kathy reported the pole placements are continuing to move forward. Work is being done Mondays through Thursdays and will continue for some weeks. They’ve completed some roads like Nielson Rd. Wayne inquired about how many police details have been required. Kathy responded that so far there haven’t been a lot that have been required. MaryEllen outlined what steps the Police Department have been taking to keep details affordable. This has included recommendations regarding weather and when to defer work because of it. The Highway Department has also been helpful with Tom Swan providing insights on the roads as well as the removal of trees that have been in the way. This has also included clearing brush out of the way as well.
MaryEllen noted how volunteers have helped with the brush removal as well. Easements continue to be a difficulty. There are two private holdouts still. This is costing a lot and delaying the overall project. Wayne suggested ways to address one of the holdouts concerns. As for the other, the matter is between lawyers. Meanwhile, DCR is requiring an environmental notification form. A hydrologist and environmental engineer were procured by the Broadband Committee and the MLP to satisfy this. This is in addition to the legislative action that is being taken by the General Court to allow the easement over DCR land. MaryEllen outlined what all of this means for the process. The issue is going okay, but it’s still a challenge to be dealt with. There will be other challenges in all likelihood, but it appears that the certificate for moving forward will be issued by DCR and the Commonwealth as a whole. Kathy then turned to the hut that was previously approved. That should be delivered next month. Westfield Gas & Electric will assist in placement. There were changes at the fabricating company that have slowed this. Wayne inquired about the crane that will be needed for this hut. MaryEllen responded that the crane will be the towns responsibility. Kathy stated that work is being done with Wendell to hopefully coordinate and lower costs. This is too big a matter to have Highway Department do, this has to be hired out. Wayne suggested there might be a local crane that can do it. MaryEllen responded if there isn’t, the next nearest would be located in Vermont. Kathy then went over some of the logistics and the challenges that the crane operator will face in placement. So the crane operator will need to be experienced. Kathy then updated on where things stand with additional funding for make ready cost overruns. The town will definitely need those funds.
Unfortunately, this will likely be several hundred thousand over. Thankfully the Governor’s Office is pursuing additional funds. The biggest challenge for New Salem with this will be fully explaining to the Commonwealth all the private roads and easements and get into the details of all the expenditures that are unique for New Salem. In the meantime, the town will likely have to borrow funds for the cost overruns. Work is being done with the Town Treasurer to procure that. Meanwhile, Broadband will be meeting with the Commonwealth’s representatives to see how long the cost overrun funds will be provided by the Commonwealth. Beacon Hill understands that this process is going to be expensive. All of the towns are experiencing cost overruns. So far the State House is mulling an additional $12 million. MaryEllen then reported on some of the experiences of some of those other towns in relation to make ready challenges with National Grid. Kathy then reported on where Wired West is now. It is working with Westfield Gas & Electric. The focus is to now setup multi town support. Wayne noted that the town has already signed on for Wired West in its new role. Kathy then reported on some work being done with Leverett, Shutesbury, and Wendell to work together to lower costs and provide some redundancy. MaryEllen built on that by explaining how this would provide savings all around and increase bandwidth. Wayne asked what the finish date should be. Kathy responded that right now New Salem is ahead of Shutesbury, but the dates are likely to be pushed out. MaryEllen noted homes should, fingers crossed, be wired in July 2019.
License Agreement with Friends of New Salem Public Library
Nancy started off by reporting on where the donation and license agreement stand and what has been put together to allow for the donation of the labor. Mary Anne reported that the Friends are helping with this to ensure that it is done properly so as to avoid any procurement or prevailing wage concerns. Mary Anne then provided the Selectboard with drawings that demonstrate what the changes will be. Randy expressed the hope that this work won’t uncover any larger problems. Mary Anne responded that this work really is minimal and the donation’s total value is about $10,000. Nancy asked that an original copy with all the requisite signatures be returned to her office for the Selectboard’s records.
Police Department Electronics Insurance Claim
A few weeks ago the town had a bad electric storm which damaged a number of town computers. MIIA will be covering the damage. The cost is running over $2,000. The biggest concern has been the CJIS computer which was damaged.
Randy noted that it should be encouraged, given the water issues the Police Station has been experiencing, that maintenance should be prioritized for the department’s budget going forward. Wayne agreed noting some of the issues with the building, suggesting that the Stowell Building in general should probably have a bigger maintenance budget going forward. Nancy then reported on some work she’s done to get information and cost estimates for gutter replacements. Wayne then elaborated on some work he’s done to clean out the existing gutters to reduce any damage that might occur in the meantime.
Stowell Building Annex
Wayne reported on where things stand on this subject and the need to see a small amount of asbestos removed. Nancy advised on the applicable MGL. As long as the cost is under $10,000, sound business practices are what apply rather than procurement.
By-Law Compilation Project
Nancy reported she has gotten through about two decades of by-laws, which she has organized. She has been typing them up in digital files so that they are in a searchable database. It is slow going, but she continues to work on it. She started in the 1970’s and is working to current.
Town Coordinator’s Schedule Weeks of October 8-12, October 15-19
Nancy reported on her upcoming vacation dates.
November 2018 Election Warrant
The Selectboard signed the November Election Warrant.
Letter to the Town Clerk Regarding Special Election for Selectboard Vacancy
Nancy asked the Selectboard if a special election should still be held. Wayne was uncertain whether it is prudent to hold one. Randy inquired about the cost and date. Nancy outlined the rules and noted that the timeframe would likely be mid-December. Wayne suggested it shouldn’t be before or during the holidays. Nancy reported that the cost could be as much as $1,000. Randy noted that the last time this kind of vacancy occurred, the town was able to work with only two Selectmen for several months. There was a question about whether there are any alternatives. Nancy noted that 20 percent of registered voters in town could sign a petition to force a special election. Currently that would be about 120 signatures. Nancy suggested directly asking the Town Clerk what the cost would be. There was also discussion of what it would look like in May with two Selectboard seats up. Randy finished by suggesting that if the town can’t afford to replace the gutters on the Stowell Building it may not be wise to spend money on a special election. So knowing the exact cost will be critical to this decision.
The Selectboard tabled the minutes from September 24th, 2018 to be taken up at the next meeting.
A motion to adjourn at 7:50 pm was made by Randy. The motion was seconded by Wayne and carried without objection.
Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk