Town of New Salem Selectboard

Meeting Minutes

 September 21, 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; David Cramer, Planning Board; Jen Potee, Cam Dunbar, Board of Health; Phil Delorey, Building Inspector; Chuck Hartwell, Finance Committee; Rosemary Lyman; Jackson Goddard; Jeanne Clayton; Ken Holmberg, Assessors

Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:

  • Payroll & Vendor Warrants
  • Cultural Council Appointments
  • Eagle Scout Congratulation Letter

Discussion Items

Radio System Migration Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

Joe started off by asking the Selectboard to approve the MOU with FRCOG to allow for proceeding with the acquisition for the radios for the new radio system. Everything is moving quickly now and the radios should be here relatively soon, with distribution in part by end of year. Within a year the system should be fully implemented. Every community in Franklin County that is participating, which is most if not all of them, has to approve the MOU. This would supersede any prior agreements regarding this system. Randy noted that the town doesn’t have a lot of options and this is one of the better ones. Joe confirmed reminding that this will replace the towns current system. Randy asked what the monthly or yearly service charges will be. Joe responded the current assessment will continue for the next 3 years or so. After that the Commonwealth will have an assessment that will replace it. There will be no concurrent assessment, i.e. no FRCOG and Commonwealth one at the same time. Still there will always be a charge for use of the system. The current system will continue to run for a while, but will be decommissioned eventually. Wayne expressed confidence that this is the best on offer.

A motion was made by Wayne to authorize the chair to sign the Memorandum of Understanding with FRCOG for this radio system. Randy seconded the motion and it passed without objection.

Proposed Marijuana Host Community Agreement – Update

Nancy updated on an email from Ancient Growth. They thanked the town for the continued engagement and expressed hope to be back before the Selectboard to sign a final agreement in October. They are on the next agenda. Nancy noted she’d hoped to have the Host Community Agreement ready by now, but it can wait two weeks.

Proposed Change Order to Window/Door Project at Swift River Elementary – Interior Doors

Nancy reported on that the window and door project is done and has come in under budget. After reviewing the building and interior doors it became apparent that the interior doors should be done. This work cannot be done under the state grant, but could be done by the towns and would cost roughly $50,000 to be split. Nancy then reported on her request for Chief Cuneo and Phil Delorey to review the building to help assist in the towns own assessment of the need. Phil then reported on the review. He and Joe looked at the interior doors. In fact, every year both officials inspect the building and issue certificates regarding safety for various things like fire exits, egress, and fire alarms among other considerations. Now interior doors aren’t really part of the inspection for a number of practical reasons. The doors they usually look at are the egress ones for fire safety purposes. There are 22-24 separate interior doors in the building. At least 4 have been deliberately cut to fit the structure back in the 1980’s. Turns out beams were in the way and the doors had to be cut at the top leaving a small gap. He felt the doors compromised and not installed properly, but that took place 30 plus years ago. There are a few other issues that are more current. Some locking issues have arisen for any lock down circumstances. There are 4-5 doors where the doors are delaminating, meaning the face of the door is separating from the actual structure of the door. So the doors are not entirely functioning as they should. This can be viewed as a maintenance issue, or as a safety issue. So yes, in his view the doors need some repairs and some replacements. He didn’t feel any of it worthy of shutting the building down. It is up to the towns to therefore evaluate how immediate the problem is. Joe noted he’s in line with Phil’s opinion. There are no direct fire violations. Most issues that have to do with doors are all building code related. His job is to report any problems with egress to the Building Inspector. Still, the doors need work. Wayne noted that there should likely be some doors that shut in the event of a fire. Phil responded that he’s not aware of any of the doors in the building doing this. He then elaborated on various requirements for doors to close in certain ways and how they should close. Meanwhile, the new doors on the exterior are functioning very well. It really is the interior ones. Wayne asked what the consensus was. Phil responded that the doors are in clear need of maintenance. Wayne submitted that since the towns have done better than originally expected it may make sense to do this project.

Randy asked about what funds would be available and what options the town might have to be reimbursed. Nancy responded the Commonwealth will not reimburse for this. They are very specific. Because a certain number of dollars were authorized for borrowing and the project came in under, there is room for borrowing to do this. The benefit to the school is that if they do all of this now they don’t have to go back out to bid as it’s a change order to the current project. She suggested if this isn’t something that has to be done right away the towns could address this in other ways such as replacing two doors a year. In Wendell there is some displeasure at how this has come to light. Wayne suggested waiting. Chuck agreed submitting from a Finance Committee view there isn’t much information aside from what’s being reported here. Assuming no code violation or safety issues, he saw no reason not to keep with something like what Nancy proposed, i.e. replacing two doors a year. Phil noted he’s spoken with some Wendell officials in his capacity as a private citizen of that town and the main issue for Wendell’s Finance Committee is that no alternatives have really been explored. Randy submitted that there should be a plan. We should not just spend funds because we can. Jean asked whether anyone from the school has any plans to present this. Nancy responded the school is obviously in favor of this, but if it is not a pressing need as it does not appear to be it may be worth waiting. Now there are some benefits to doing it now, not having to go out to bid again, perhaps it may be cheaper to do it now, that sort of thing. Jean noted it might not hurt to vet the costs a bit more before a final answer. This assuming the school wants to move on this sooner rather than later. If they’re fine with waiting that would be fine too. She suggested making sure we know all the facts. Nancy suggested inviting officials from the school to the next Selectboard meeting to discuss this further. Wayne asked if there is some kind of deal on offer from the contractor, noting some concerns with the process if that is the case. Chuck felt that really, for a project of this size we probably should want multiple quotes. Randy submitted there isn’t enough to support this right at this moment. He compared it to a sale at a store on something you don’t really need. If you still buy it, you’re spending money you didn’t have to spend thus not truly saving. Nancy agreed to speak with school officials.

Issues with Last Special Town Meeting Article 2; Need to Schedule Another Special Town Meeting

Randy asked about Article 2 adopted at town meeting. Nancy reported on conversations had with various officials and it appears that some amendments made by New Salem may be illegal and must be reviewed. If in fact they are, the town will need to hold another Special Town Meeting. The motion itself related to that article is being called into question. Chuck asked for the basis of the illegality. Nancy explained that it was called into question in part for being out of line for the regionalization agreement between the towns. Though ultimately it really comes down to language of an amendment to the motion for the article that is problematic. A date for a new Special Town Meeting could be in October and she noted two dates that could work for the Town Clerk. The Town Clerk is asking for a morning meeting due to issues with election preparations. Both dates are Saturdays. Wayne expressed some concern with a morning meeting. Randy noted that there is nothing new. This wasn’t a close vote and all that needs to be done is a change of wording. Nancy noted that sadly the Library’s related request was tied into this, so they will need a revote as well. It was agreed to visit this again after review from the various legal counsels is concluded.

Tennis Court Upgrades

Wayne reported he was unfortunately not able to get quotes for this in time for the meeting. Jean urged that the town try again. There is a matching grant that could help. Both agreed to work together to get updated quotes to pursue all funding options. Jean noted that this sport has been sanctioned as safe during this pandemic, and is one of the few. Since there is a promising grant it should be pursued. 

Update on Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Community Resilience Building Workshop

Nancy reported on the workshop and the date that it was scheduled for.

Reminder of September 29 Flu Clinic at Town Hall & General Board of Health Update

There is a flu clinic scheduled. There are 23 people signed up to date. Board of Health will be making calls to Seniors to remind them and encourage those who haven’t signed up to sign up. Jen stressed that everyone should be seeking out the flu shot this year and urged residents, even those who aren’t Seniors, to sign up. Board of Health will be there throughout taking shifts between the members. She then briefly turned to the Library reopening plan and noted that some changes were asked for in light of the Commonwealth’s guidelines. The plan was somewhat confusing and not concise enough. Nothing has been heard from them since. She then turned to Halloween noting that Board of Health will be addressing that at its next meeting. Wayne then briefly reported on one of the junkyard properties noting that the owner of this particular property does appear to have obtained a dumpster and it is half full. Jen suggested including Phil next time. She noted the Board of Health’s Agent would also be happy to go as well. Their Agent would like to get access to the house to ensure it is safe for winter. This is 210 Wendell Rd. 

Resignation of Tree Committee Member & Request to Appoint New Member

Nancy reported that Joe Nawrocki has resigned and the Tree Committee has requested the appointment of Matt Jenks to replace him. The Selectboard saw no reason not to approve the appointment and determined to do so.

Old Library – Request to Clean up Garden Areas in Front of the Building

Nancy reported on a call from some parties that want to clean up the gardens. This building is also known as the Annex. Randy asked if there are any restrictions on volunteers doing this. Nancy felt it unlikely that there would be. She noted there’s a lot of overgrowth plantings. Jean asked if this area is under the Selectboard’s authority or the Cemetery Commissions or some other body. Nancy felt it likely under the Selectboard. Wayne noted some of the aging of the brick pathways around there. Jean submitted that she doesn’t have any problems with volunteers doing maintenance so long as whatever body is over this area is advised. Randy felt it unlikely that there is any specific body that oversees this. It was agreed to allow the volunteers to do the work. 

Cultural Council Appointments

Nancy reported on a request for Mary-Ann Palmieri and Jan Doody be appointed to the Cultural Council. The Selectboard saw no reason not to do so. Both were appointed.

Eagle Scout Congratulation Letter

Nancy informed the Selectboard of Andrew Ohlson, Jr.’s recent obtainment of Eagle Scout status and requested the Selectboard approve and sign a letter of congratulation. The Selectboard did so and formally congratulated Andrew for his achievement.

Grant Update & Town Accountant Update

Nancy gave a brief report on some prior grants that the town sought and the options the town still has. These are mostly about municipal preparation for things like climate change and other related topics. Nancy then turned to the Town Accountant. His printer died mid printing of checks for the vendor warrant. That will hopefully be settled in the next business day. Wayne then asked about expense reports noting he hasn’t seen any in a while. Nancy reported her thoughts on why this is, and how departments are dealing with it. Randy expressed some concern and asked about Free Cash and how to remind FRCOG that the town needs to see that certified in a timely manner. The lateness of recent years really isn’t acceptable and if there are already issues with inputting the FY21 budget that is a concern. Nancy agreed to speak with the head of the program to remind him.

Minutes

The Selectboard considered the minutes for August 24 which were tabled at the last meeting. It was determined to approve them. It was also agreed to table the minutes from September 8.

Jean made a motion to approve the minutes for August 24. The motion was seconded by Wayne and passed without objection.

A motion to adjourn at 7:47 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Jean and passed without objection.

Respectfully Submitted

Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk